Smoke was visible in the Hawaiian night skies on Sunday night, glistening in bright red, signalling an eruption by the most active volcano.
Mauna Loa, which means “long mountain” in Hawaiian The eruption occurred at around 11.30 p.m. in the local time zone on Sunday. The volcano had been experiencing signs of instability since September, as per the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Federal agency has designated the volcano alert level “warning,” meaning “hazardous eruption is imminent, in progress or is suspected.”
In the early hours of Monday morning, there were no requests for evacuation. The Mayor of Hawaii County, Mitch Roth said that the eruption did not seem to be threatening any communities on the downslope. As a matter of precaution the Hawaii government opened shelters to those who want to evacuate in Ka’u gym in Pahala, the Old Kona Airport in Kailua-Kona and the Ka’u gymnasium in Pahala.
Mauna Loa is taller than Mount Everest
Mauna Loa is one of fifteen volcanoes that are located within the eight major Hawaiian islands. It is about five percent of the islands of Hawaii in accordance with the U.S. National Park Service. From the bottom of the ocean it is at 30,000 feet — which is over 1,000 feet higher than the summit that is Mount Everest. The majority of Mauna Loa is underwater, with just 13,000 feet above the sea level.
The earliest lava flows of the volcano are traceable back between 600,000 to a million years back. Scientists have estimated that Mauna Loa likely emerged above the sea surface around 300,000 years ago, and has grown rapidly since then.
The eruption comes to an end Mauna Loa’s longest silent period
Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since records of eruptions began in 1843. The last eruption took place in March 1984, and took three weeks to complete. Lava was able to move just five miles from Hilo which is the largest city of the archipelago’s biggest island.
One of the most destructive eruptions was one that took place at the beginning of the year 1868 where 4,000 acres of land were destroyed and 77 inhabitants were killed in landslides as well as the landslides and tsunamis caused by earthquakes. The lava flow lasted for five days and the eruption is regarded as to be among the most deadly natural catastrophes that have occurred in Hawaiian history.
Mauna Loa lava flow can change rapidly
At the time of Monday’s morning local time the lava appeared be contained and displayed no evidence of leaving the summit. However, Mauna Loa eruptions have a tradition of being active as well as the movement of lava may change quickly during the initial stages.
Mauna Loa also tends to release lava at a rapid rate, which could be extremely hazardous when it falls down the steep slopes of the volcano. It is able to cause “fast-moving and lengthy-traveled lava flows” that require an “quick reaction,” the U.S. Geological Survey declared.
There is also the chance that the winds could transport volcanic gas and fine ash to close communities.