Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world, has erupted for the first time in 38 years, triggering an ash fall warning and multiple earthquakes on Hawaii’s main island.
The eruption began in the summit caldera of Mauna Loa late on Sunday night. Currently, the US Geological Survey does not believe there is any risk of magma fall, but an ash fall advisory has been issued.
Some residents of the South Kona coast have begun to voluntarily evacuate, though no evacuation orders are in place yet.
Historically, the volcano’s lava rivers have flowed into different communities including Hilo, which has 45,248 residents, and Kukio – a billionaire’s paradise which has blossomed over the last 38 years and now counts some of the world’s richest people among residents.
In a statement, the NWS said: ‘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.
‘Residents at risk from Mauna Loa lava flows should review preparedness and refer to Hawai‘i County Civil Defense information for further guidance.
‘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.’
The last time the volcano erupted, inmates at the 200-bed minimum security Kulani Correctional Facility – which is at the foot of the volcano – were evacuated.
The lava rivers came within two miles of the prison.
A guard at the prison told DailyMail.com on Monday morning that they had not yet received an evacuation order, and that they couldn’t even see the lava from their side of the volcano.
‘We’re staying put for now,’ the guard said.
He confirmed there are currently 93 inmates at the facility.
The flow of the lava remains unpredictable.
‘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,’ The National Weather Service in Honolulu said in a warning this morning.
The NWS is warning residents with respiratory illness to stay indoors.
‘People with respiratory illnesses should remain indoors to avoid inhaling the ash particles and anyone outside should cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth.
‘Possible harm to crops and animals. Minor equipment and infrastructure damage. Reduced visibility. Widespread clean-up may be necessary.’
Residents awoke in the middle of the night to a bright orange sky. Many shared their photos and videos on Twitter, with some as far as Kona – on the coast – able to see the magma burning.
Over a dozen earthquakes of more than 2.5 magnitude struck the region in the last two hours, according to the USGS, with one measuring 4.2 in magnitude.
Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that together make up the Big Island of Hawaii, which is the southernmost island in the Hawaiian archipelago.
At 13,679 feet above the Pacific Ocean, it is 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 sits immediately north of Kilauea volcano, which is currently erupting from its summit crater.
Kilauea is well-known for a 2018 eruption that destroyed 700 homes and sent rivers of lava spreading across farms and into the ocean.
Some of Mauna Loa’s slopes are much steeper than Kilauea’s so when it erupts, its lava can flow much faster. During a 1950 eruption, the mountain’s lava traveled 15 miles to the ocean in less than three hours.
Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago in April 1984, sending a flow of lava within 5 miles of the city of Hilo. In written history, dating to 1843, it’s erupted 33 times.
Read the full story here.
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.