June 17, 2024

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Here’s what you need to know about the eruption of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano

Here’s what you need to know about the eruption of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano

HONOLULU (AP) — Lava is taking pictures 100 feet to 200 toes (30 to 60 meters) into the air as Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s premier active volcano, erupts for the very first time in nearly 40 decades.

Read Much more: Hawaii’s Mauna Loa begins to erupt, spewing ash and debris

For now, lava is not threatening any residences or communities and no evacuation orders have been issued. Lava could at some point achieve neighborhoods as it flows downhill even though it could consider a 7 days or more for molten rock to attain populated spots.

Mauna Loa is spewing sulfur dioxide and other volcanic gases. They sort volcanic smog, or vog, when they mix with vapor, oxygen and dust in sunlight. As a result, point out overall health officials are urging people to reduce again on out of doors exercise and other routines that lead to major respiratory.

Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984. Its scaled-down, more active neighbor, Kilauea volcano, has been erupting continually for a lot more than a calendar year since September 2021.

In which IS MAUNA LOA?

Mauna Loa is 1 of five volcanoes that collectively make up the Huge Island of Hawaii, which is the southernmost island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It’s not the tallest (that title goes to Mauna Kea) but it’s the major and helps make up about half of the island’s land mass.

It sits right away north of Kilauea volcano, which is perfectly-recognised for a 2018 eruption that wrecked 700 houses and sent rivers of lava spreading across farms and into the ocean.

Mauna Loa past erupted 38 a long time back. The present eruption is its 34th since created history commenced in 1843.

The Large Island is mainly rural and hosts cattle ranches and espresso farms but it is also property to a number of smaller cities, such as the county seat of Hilo, which has a inhabitants of 45,000.

It’s about 200 miles (320 kilometers) south of Hawaii’s most populous island, Oahu, the place the condition cash, Honolulu, and beach vacation resort Waikiki are both equally positioned.

Mauna Loa’s volume is estimated to be at minimum 18,000 sq. miles (75,000 sq. kilometers), generating it the world’s biggest volcano when calculated from the ocean flooring to its summit.


The eruption began Sunday night at its summit soon after a collection of substantial earthquakes. It then unfold to vents that fashioned in a rift zone wherever the mountain is splitting aside and it’s simpler for magma to emerge.

These vents are on the mountain’s northeast aspect and lava emerging there could head toward Hilo, which is on the east aspect of the island.

Ken Hon, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, reported he does not hope supplemental vents to sort on the volcano’s southwest rift zone throughout this eruption. That suggests communities to the west would be spared lava flows this time.

Mauna Loa also erupted from the northeast in 1984. That time, lava headed toward Hilo but stopped a handful of miles brief of the metropolis.

Traditionally, every Mauna Loa eruption has lasted a handful of months. Hon expects the existing eruption to follow this pattern.


Mauna Loa is not exploding like Washington state’s Mount St. Helens did in 1980, killing 57 people. That eruption despatched ash soaring more than 80,000 ft (24,384 meters) and raining down as significantly as 250 miles (400 kilometers) away.

The magma in Mount St. Helens tends to be stickier and traps a lot more gasoline, creating it a lot a lot more most likely to explode when it rises. It’s of a wide range named composite volcanoes, which form concave cones.

Mauna Loa’s magma tends to be hotter, drier and additional fluid. That permits the magma’s gasoline to escape and lava to flow down the aspect the volcano the way it is starting off to do now. Mauna Loa is a protect volcano, named due to the fact the extended, broad flanks constructed by repeated lava flows give it the look of a warrior’s defend.

In 1989, Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano, a further composite volcano, belched an 8-mile cloud of ash that clogged all 4 engines of a KLM Royal Dutch Airways jet. The plane fell 13,000 toes before all engines restarted and the aircraft landed with out injuries to the 245 people today aboard.

Mauna Loa introduced some ash this time but on a vastly scaled-down scale than these examples from composite volcanoes.


  • Lava: Molten rock could cover houses, farms or neighborhoods, dependent on the place it flows. But lava from the northeast rift zone will most likely just take at the very least a week to reach populated areas, making it possible for folks time to evacuate if essential.
  • Volcanic gas: Mauna Loa is releasing volcanic gases, primarily sulfur dioxide. The gases are present in their maximum concentrations in the speedy place all over the summit crater or vents. But they also incorporate with other particles to form vog, which can spread throughout the Significant Island and even waft around to the state’s other islands.

Vog can give healthier men and women burning eyes, headaches and sore throats. It can ship all those with bronchial asthma or other respiratory difficulties to the medical center.

  • Glass particles: When very hot lava erupts from a fissure and rapidly cools, it forms glass particles named “Pele’s hair” and “Pele’s tears” soon after the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes.

The particles tend not to travel much from volcanic vents — it’s possible only a few hundred yards or a mile — and will not threaten lots of people today, explained Aaron Pietruszka, an associate specialist at the University of Hawaii’s Division of Earth Sciences.

“It just practically seems to be like hair strands. And that is wherever the fluid lava is stretched by the wind to make lengthy, skinny strands,” claimed Pietruszka.

The glass bits — as shorter as a number of millimeters or as extensive as a few inches — can be sharp.

“You would not want to be digging your palms in it because you could get a cut,” Pietruszka reported.

An N95 or KF94 mask would safeguard in opposition to these glass particles but not against volcanic gas, reported Dr. Libby Char, the director of the point out Office of Well being.

“Pele’s hair” specimens from Kilauea volcano’s eruption are noticeable at Hawaii Volcanoes Countrywide Park.


Mauna Loa released about 15,000 tons of carbon dioxide per day for the duration of its 1984 eruption, in accordance to USGS knowledge.

Which is equivalent to the once-a-year emissions from 2,400 sport utility automobiles.

Researchers say all of Earth’s volcanoes put together emit considerably less than one particular p.c of the carbon dioxide that humans make just about every year.