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Hawaii’s Big Island receives warnings following the Mauna Loa eruption

The largest active volcano in the world, Mauna Loa, started erupting late on Sunday night after 38 years of calm. The USGS is keeping a careful eye on the volcano, so locals are being advised to check their contingency plans.

Hawaii's Big Island receives warnings following the Mauna Loa eruption
United States Geological Survey/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The largest active volcano in the world, Mauna Loa, erupted late Sunday night after going quiet for almost 40 years, according to the USGS’s volcanic activity programme. An ashfall warning was issued for the island and the nearby waters as a fire-orange glow lit up the sky over Hawaii’s Big Island.

According to the USGS, the eruption in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is “limited to the summit” and is not endangering towns below. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) is actively monitoring this volcano since its early eruption stages can be extremely dynamic and the location and advance of lava flows can alter quickly, the USGS said.

There was an ashfall warning in force for parts of Hawaii’s Big Island and the nearby waters due to the possibility of winds transporting volcanic gas and fine ash southward. Monday at 9 a.m. HST, the ashfall warning was withdrawn.

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The National Weather Service in Honolulu advised that anyone outside should cover their mouth and nose with a mask or piece of cloth to prevent breathing in ash particles if they have respiratory conditions.

Ashfall can harm structures and vehicles, taint water sources, interfere with sewage systems, and harm or kill plants, according to the NWS’s warning.

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Despite the fact that no evacuation orders have been issued, people of the South Kona coast were voluntarily leaving, and Hawaii County officials opened at least two shelters, according to Hawaii News Now. Residents who are in the path of Mauna Loa lava flows are advised to examine their preparedness strategies and contact Hawaii County Civil Defense for more details.

The eruption will remain in the Northeast Rift Zone, according to all indicators, the USGS said in an update at 6:30 a.m. HST. “Lava flows are not endangering any downslope settlements.”

Mauna Loa

Approximately 40 miles east of the volcano, near Hilo International Airport, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a travel warning. All travelers having flights to the approximately 35-mile-northwest-of-the-volcano Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport or Hilo International Airport are asked to verify with their airline before arriving at the airport.

Sam Spangler, a reporter for KHON2 in Honolulu, tweeted that Southwest Airlines had ceased operations at Hilo International Airport on Monday as a result of the ashfall advisory.

The volcano alert level was raised from an advisory to a warning on Monday morning.

According to a CNN story from late October, which noted an increase in seismic activity and earthquake rates, Mauna Loa has been in a “heightened state of instability.”

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Mauna Loa, World’s Largest Volcano, Erupting In Hawaii

According to the USGS, the number of earthquakes rose from five to ten per day in June 2022 to roughly ten to twenty per day in July and August. According to CNN, there were peaks of 100 earthquakes each day on September 23 and 29.

Since there has been an increase in seismic activity, Mauna Loa Summit has been off-limits to all backcountry hikers at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park until further notice.

Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since records began in 1843, with one eruption on average every five years.

However, the majority of eruptions took place before 1950, with an average interval of 3.5 years, according to research by the USGS on the volcano, which occupies more than half of Hawaii’s Big Island and soars 13,679 feet above the Pacific Ocean. There have only been two eruptions after 1950: a summit eruption in 1975, which occurred 25 years later, and a rift eruption in 1984, which occurred nine years later.

The longest period of silence in recorded history came to an end on Sunday.

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Kajal is an multi-media and communications graduate whose interests lie within the media industry and the best way for her to communicate is by writing about things she likes.

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