According to a public statement by the USGS, at approximately 11:30 p.m. yesterday evening, November 27, an eruption began in Maku‘āweoweo, the summit caldera of Mauna Loa, inside Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
At this time, lava flows are contained within the summit area and are not threatening downslope communities. Winds may carry volcanic gas and possibly fine ash and Pele’s hair downwind. Earthquakes were reported by residents.
Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes – Hualālai (extinct), Kohala (extinct), Mauna Kea (active), Mauna Loa (active) and Kilauea (active) – that together make up the Big 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 largest and makes up about half of the island’s land mass. It’s enormous size may allow it to store more magma, leading to larger lava flows when an eruption occurs.
Mauna Loa is also one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, erupting 33 times since 1843, with the most recent eruption happening in 1984. First tremors recorded in early October suggested that magma was on the move beneath the volcano. Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can be very dynamic and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.
If the eruption remains in Moku‘āweoweo, lava flows will most likely be confined within the caldera walls. However, if the eruptive vents migrate outside its walls, lava flows may move rapidly downslope.
Residents at risk from Mauna Loa lava flows should review preparedness and refer to Hawai‘i County Civil Defense information for further guidance.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) is in close consultation with emergency management partners and will be monitoring the volcano closely to provide further updates on activity. As soon as possible, HVO will conduct aerial reconnaissance to better describe the eruption and assess hazards.
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