Mauna Loa, French for “long mountain,” erupted Sunday night for the first time in nearly 40 years. Spectacular, its fury doesn’t threaten homes for now, but officials and experts should be wary.
After a 40-year hiatus, one of the world’s largest volcanoes is spewing lava again since Sunday evening.
This eruption carries molten rock to the top of the volcano. This causes thick clouds of smoke above Hawaii, the largest American island in this Pacific archipelago. According to the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS), the coils are visible for more than 70 kilometers around.
Call with caution
Lava that was originally in the summit crater now flows through fissures on the flanks of Mauna Loa. No evacuations have been ordered by authorities, but the area near the summit and some roads on the island have been closed as a precaution.
“The eruption of Mauna Loa migrated from the summit to the Northeast Rift Zone, where fissures feed several lava flows,” the USGS explained on its website.
There is currently no danger to homes under the eruption zone, according to the agency that warns against the instability of the volcano, which covers half of Hawaii Island.
The last eruption was in 1984
“The early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption may move quickly, and the location and progression of lava flows may change rapidly,” the USGS warned.
According to the institute, the wind can also transport “volcanic gas and Pele’s hair,” volcanic glass fibers named after the Hawaiian fire goddess that form when volcanic droplets stretch into thin fibers under the influence of storms. As sharp as razor blades, they are dangerous to skin and eyes.
The US Weather Service (NWS) warned that volcanic ash and debris could accumulate around the volcano. It can cause breathing difficulties for occupants or disrupt the operation of machinery or electronic systems.
Mauna Loa, or “Long Mountain” in French, has not erupted since 1984. It then spewed lava for 22 days, creating a failed lava flow seven kilometers from the town of Hilo.
Peaking at 4169 meters above sea level, Mauna Loa is one of six active volcanoes in the Hawaiian archipelago. It has erupted 33 times since 1843.
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