Mauna Loa, a natural wonder on the beautiful “Big Island,” Hawaii, has begun erupting and spewing lava. A gray, cloudy gas plume can be observed over the volcano, with streams of vivid orange lava flowing down its sides.
It marks the first time the volcano has erupted in 38 years. The fiery outburst began on November 27th, at around 11:30 pm. Fissures that feed the raging lava flows were discovered in the Northeast Rift Zone of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park the next morning, confirming the eruption. The United States Geological Survey doesn’t expect eruptions outside the Northeast zone. The eruption intensity has decreased steadily over the last two weeks, and geologists don’t expect the Big Island to turn into a Hollywood action movie set just yet. None of the 8 previous eruptions in this zone have ever reintensified after diminishing. The flows of lava have not encroached onto any main roads, as it has only crossed the Observatory Road and has yet to reach Hawaii State Route 200. Thankfully, no property is currently in danger, and the eruption has not required the enforcement of evacuation orders. Curious adventurers have been watching the lava outburst from a distance, many flocking to the Kilauea Visitor Center to observe the red-hot streams and ponds.
As of December 10th, the longest flow, stemming from Fissure 3, spans a distance of 12.1 miles. Lava has covered 16.5 square miles of the National Park so far. The dangerous sulfur dioxide has diffused at a decreasing rate into the Hawaiian air, with emission rates currently approximated at around 30,000 tons per day. Overall, it appears that this eruption will not be an alarming one, and won’t require extensive natural disaster resources from organizations like FEMA. However, while it may not be severely startling, it looks like the fissures will take their time to flow before running dry. Signals linked to fluid movements beneath the surface called tremors still roar beneath the spewing fissures. These tremors suggest that magma is still feeding the fissure, and the eruption won’t cease until it dies down. Mauna Loa’s rare eruption has caught the world’s attention, and while not extremely terrifying or threatening, it does present an intriguing subject for geologists and citizens alike.