Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano erupts, sending ash nearby

Magma moved to the surface, although the lava flows were located in the peak area and did not threaten neighboring communities.

HONOLULU — A wave of orange, glowing lava and smoky ash spewed out Monday from the world’s largest active volcano, and people living on Hawaii’s Big Island have been warned to be ready if debris threatens. threaten the community.

The Mauna Loa eruption didn’t threaten the towns immediately, but officials told residents to get ready for worse.

Many people didn’t live there when Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago. The United States Geological Survey has warned about 200,000 people on the Big Island that an eruption “can be very dynamic, and the location and evolution of lava flows can change rapidly.”

Bobby Camara, a Lifelong Big Island resident, who lives in Volcano Village, said everyone on the island should stay alert and watch the eruption.

“I think people should be a little concerned,” he said. “We don’t know where the flow is going, we don’t know how long it will last.”

He says he’s seen three Mauna Loa eruptions in his life and knows people need to be nimble.

Ken Hon, the scientist in charge of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, said the eruption began Sunday night after a series of sizable earthquakes.

There has been a wave of development on the Big Island in recent decades — its population has more than doubled, from 92,000 in 1980.

The largest cities on the island are Kailua-Kona to the west of the volcano, with about 23,000 people, and Hilo to the east, with about 45,000. Officials are most worried about some subdivision about 30 miles south of the volcano, home to about 5,000 people.

A time-lapse video of the eruption during the night shows lava lighting up an area, moving through the area like waves in the ocean.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the eruption had moved to a rift zone on the northeastern flank of the volcano. Rift zones are where mountain rock is fractured and relatively weak – making it easier for magma to emerge.

An eruption from the northeast could bring lava to the county seat of Hilo or other towns in Eastern Hawaii, but lava could take weeks or months to reach populated areas. It is possible that the eruption could then shift to a rift zone on the southwest flank. Lava emerging from this area can reach neighboring communities in hours or days.

“We don’t want to try and guess what the volcano is all about,” Hon said. “We have to let it really show us what it’s going to do and then we inform people of what’s happening as soon as possible.”

The Hawaii County Civil Defense announced that they were opening shelters because they received reports of people evacuating along the coast.

The average Mauna Loa eruption is usually short-lived, lasting several weeks, Hon said.

“Typically, Mauna Loa eruptions start with the greatest mass first,” said Hon. “After a few days, it started to calm down a bit.”

The USGS warned residents at risk from the Mauna Loa lava flow to reconsider their eruption preparations. Scientists have been put on alert because of recent earthquakes spiked on top of the volcano, which last erupted in 1984.

Parts of the Big Island are covered by ash recommendations issued by the National Weather Service in Honolulu, which say up to 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) of ash can accumulate in some areas. .

Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that together make up the Big Island of Hawaii, the southernmost island of the Hawaiian archipelago.

Mauna Loa, 13,679 feet (4,169 meters) above sea level, is Kilauea’s much larger neighbor, which erupted in a residential area and destroyed 700 homes in 2018. Some of its slopes are steep. much more than Kilauea, so lava can flow much faster when it erupts.

During a 1950 eruption, the mountain’s lava traveled 15 miles (24 km) out to sea in less than three hours.

Tourism is Hawaii’s economic engine, but Roth predicted some problems for vacationers during the eruption.

“It would be spectacular anywhere, but the chances of it actually disrupting tourism — very, very slim,” he said.

For some, the eruption could cut some travel time, even with more volcanic smoke due to higher sulfur-dioxide emissions.

“But the good thing is you don’t have to drive from Kona to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see the eruption anymore,” says Roth. “You just have to look out the window at night and you’ll be able to see Mauna Loa erupting.”

Julia Neal, owner of Pahala Plantation Cottages, said the eruption brought relief after many preparatory meetings and many wondering what the volcano would do.

“It was interesting,” she said. “It’s a relief that it’s happening and we’re not expecting it to happen.”

Several prospective visitors from the continental United States phoned Neal “ask me to make a prediction, which I couldn’t,” she said. So I said, just stand by.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/hawaiis-mauna-loa-volcano-eruption/507-551aa228-aca9-49fa-a8bf-630bc7b7f058 Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano erupts, sending ash nearby

Edmund DeMarche

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