The first images of the eruption of Mauna Loa: the largest volcano in the world threatens Hawaii

A river of lava flows from Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano erupted Monday for the first time in 38 years. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) (Marco Garcia/)

The mauna loa of Hawaiithe volcano largest active in the world, erupted for the first time in almost 40 years, and its wash reach up to 30 and 60 meters in height.

For now, the lava does not threaten any home or community and no evacuation orders. The lava could eventually reach neighborhoods as it flows downhill, although the molten rock It could take a week or more to reach populated areas.

mauna loa sheds sulfur dioxide and others volcanic gases that are part of volcanic smog when mixed with steam, oxygen and dust in sunlight. As a result, state health officials are urging people to reduce outdoor exercise and other activities that cause shortness of breath.

mauna loa volcano
People watch the eruption of Mauna Loa, (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) (Marco Garcia/)

Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984. Its smaller and more active neighbor, the Kilauea volcanohas been erupting continuously for over a year since September 2021.


Mauna Loa is one of the five volcanoes that together form the big island of hawaiiwhich is the southernmost island of the hawaiian archipelago. It’s not the tallest (that title goes to Mauna Kea), but it is the largest, making up about half of the island’s land mass.

It is located immediately north of Kilauea volcanowhich is well known for a 2018 eruption that destroyed 700 homes and sent lava rivers that spread across the farms and out to the ocean.

mauna loa volcano
A view of the Mauna Loa volcano

Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago. The current eruption is the 34th since recorded history began in 1843.

The Big Island It is mostly rural and home to cattle ranches and coffee farms, but is also home to a few small cities, including the county seat of Hilo, which has a population of 45,000.

It is about 320 kilometers south of the most populous island of Hawaii, oahuwhere the state capital, Honoluluand the resort of Waikiki beach.

mauna loa volcano
Mauna Loa volcano erupting

Mauna Loa’s volume is estimated to be at least 75,000 square kilometers, making it the world’s largest volcano when measured from the ocean floor to its top.

The eruption began Sunday night at its summit after a series of big earthquakes. It then spread to vents that formed in a rift zone where the mountain is splitting and it’s easier for the sea to emerge. magma.

These vents are on the northeast side of the mountain, and lava flowing there could be heading toward Hilo, which is on the east side of the island.

mauna loa volcano
The glow of the Mauna Loa eruption is seen from Kona Bay (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) (Marco Garcia/)

ken honscientist in charge of Hawaii Volcano ObservatoryHe said he does not expect additional vents to form in the volcano’s southwestern rift zone during this eruption. That means communities to the west would be spared from lava flows this time.

Mauna Loa also erupted from the northeast in 1984. At this time, the lava headed toward Hilo but stopped a few miles from the city.

Historically, each Mauna Loa eruption has lasted a few weeks. Hon expects the current eruption to follow this pattern.

mauna loa volcano
Mauna Loa Volcano

Mauna Loa’s magma tends to be hot, dry, and fluid. That allows gas from the magma to escape and lava to flow down the side of the volcano the way it is starting to do now. Mauna Loa is a shield volcanoso named because the long, broad flanks built up by repeated lava flows give it the appearance of a warrior’s shield.

In 1989, the Alaskan Redoubt Volcanoanother composite volcano, spewed an 8-mile cloud of ash that clogged all four engines of a jetliner. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The plane dropped 13,000 feet before all engines were restarted and the plane landed without injuring all 245 people on board.

Mauna Loa spewed some ash this time, but on a much smaller scale than these examples of composite volcanoes.

mauna loa volcano
Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, erupted for the first time in nearly 40 years (Photo by Handout/US Geological Survey/AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO/US Geological Survey ” – NO MARKETING – NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A CUSTOMER SERVICE (HANDOUT/)


Wash: The molten rock can cover houses, farms or neighborhoods, depending on where it flows. But lava from the northeast rift zone will likely take at least a week to reach populated areas, allowing people time to evacuate if necessary.

volcanic gas: Mauna Loa is releasing volcanic gases, mainly sulfur dioxide. The gases are present in their highest concentrations in the immediate area around the crater or summit vents.

-Glass Particles: When hot lava erupts from a fissure and cools rapidly, it forms glass particles called “Pele’s hair” Y “pele’s tears” in honor of the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes.

mauna loa volcano
A river of lava flows from Mauna Loa, (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) (Marco Garcia/)

The particles tend not to travel far from volcanic vents, perhaps only a few hundred meters, and do not threaten many people, he said. Aaron PietruszkaAssociate Specialist of Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Hawaii.

“It literally looks like strands of hair. And that’s where the wind stretches the flowing lava to form long, thin threads,” Pietruszka said.

Glass points, as short as a few millimeters or as long as a few inches, can be sharp.

mauna loa volcano
People watch the glow of lava erupting from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano, (AP Photo/Caleb Jones) (Caleb Jones/)

“You wouldn’t want to put your hands in it because you could cut yourself,” Pietruszka said.

A N95 or KF94 mask would protect against these glass particles but not against volcanic gassaid the Dr. Libby Chardirector of the state Department of Health.

Specimens of “Pele’s hair” from the Kilauea volcano eruption are visible in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.


Mauna Loa emitted about 15,000 tons of carbon dioxide per day during its 1984 eruption.

mauna loa volcano
Cars parked near an ancient lava field as a lava flow colors the sky over Mauna Loa (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) (Marco Garcia/)

That’s equivalent to the annual emissions of 2,400 sport utility vehicles.

Scientists say that all volcanoes of the Land combined they emit less than one percent of the carbon dioxide that humans produce each year.

(With AP information)

Keep reading:

The Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii erupted after 40 years: it is the largest in the world

Alarm in Hawaii: authorities changed the Mauna Loa volcano alert from “normal” to “precautionary”

A scientist, a World War II hero, a volcano with its lava flows and the curse of the goddess Pele