Mauna Loa eruption - latest: Satellite captures view of advancing lava from space as crowds flock to volcano

A satellite has captured stunning images of the Mauna Loa eruption from space, as crowds flock to the Hawaii volcano to watch the rare event.

The photos, taken when the eruption began on 28 November, were released after the US Geological Survey warned there was a “high probability” a stream of molten lava would reach a main highway on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Officials are preparing for the possibility that the Daniel K Inouye Highway, which connects the communities of Hilo and Kona, could be shut down within the week despite the flow slowing its advance.

“It’ll probably come around the north side of Pu’u Huluhulu, which is right at the Mauna Kea turnoff on Saddle Road,” said Ken Hon, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge, at a news conference Wednesday.

The lava flow was previously moving at a rate of 130 meters an hour, but as of Thursday night, Mr Hon confirmed that it had slowed to just 30 yards per hour as the lava hit flat terrain.

Key Points

  • USGS warns ‘high probability’ lava could reach highway

  • Tourists flock to see volcano erupting and pose for selfies

  • Rare dual-eruption event as pair of volcanoes light up the sky

  • Residents shared concerns weeks before eruption

  • Videos and photos show red glow from volcano eruption

  • New map shows path of eruptive activity

  • Hawaii officials warn about risks of air quality hazards

Satellite photos capture Mauna Loa eruption from space

19:01 , Megan Sheets

Stunning satellite images of the Mauna Loa eruption - the volcano’s first in nearly four decades - have been captured by Maxar Technologies.

The photos, taken just after the eruption began on Hawaii’s Big Island on Monday, show molten red lava flowing from the volcano’s caldera.

A satellite image shows lava flowing from Hawaii's Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii (via REUTERS)
A satellite image shows lava flowing from Hawaii's Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii (via REUTERS)
In this satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies, lava flows from the Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii on Monday 28 November (AP)
In this satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies, lava flows from the Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii on Monday 28 November (AP)
A handout satellite image made available by Maxar Technologies shows a night time overview of lava flows from Mauna Loa (EPA)
A handout satellite image made available by Maxar Technologies shows a night time overview of lava flows from Mauna Loa (EPA)

The European Space Agency also released its own captivating image of the eruption, showing lava at the centre and smoke rising from the peak.

This image from a European Space Agency satellite shows the Mauna Loa eruption on 28 November (European Space Agency)
This image from a European Space Agency satellite shows the Mauna Loa eruption on 28 November (European Space Agency)

The US Geological Survey issued a brief update on Friday morning, saying that the eruption is ongoing at the Northeast Rift Zone.

A more comprehensive update is expected later in the day.

Is climate change impacting the Mauna Loa eruption?

14:00 , Johanna Chisholm

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on the planet, has erupted for the first time in nearly four decades.

The eruption on the state’s Big Island began at around 11.30pm local time on Sunday in Mokuaweoweo, the summit caldera of the volcano, according to the National Weather Service.

Lava flows are contained to the summit area, around 2.5miles above sea level, with no threat to communities downslope but the situation is being closely monitored as it can change rapidly.

While the eruption of Mauna Loa is a rare occurrence, the climate crisis could lead to more volcanic activity, some scientists say.

The greenhouse gas emissions heating the planet are melting glaciers and in turn destabilizing mountains, creating conditions for volcanic eruptions that were previously restrained.

Louise Boyle has more.

How does climate change impact volcanic eruptions?

Native Hawaiians say Mauna Loa eruption is symbolic of larger struggle for land

13:00 , Josh Marcus

The eruption of Mauna Loa is about more than just geology, according to some Native Hawaiians.

It represents the island pushing back against centuries of colonization and exploitation.

“The Native people have been saying this isn’t your place to extract and profit from anymore,” Kaniela Ing, former state legislator and co-founder of Native Hawaiian-focused organization Our Hawaii, told NBC News. “You don’t have authority to shape our sacred lands.”

Mr Ing, refering to the Hawaiian volcano deity, said the eruption was “Pelehonuamea saying, ‘They’re right. My people are right.’”

Advancing lava from Mauna Loa slows as officials expect it to hit highway within week

11:52 , Johanna Chisholm

The US Geological Survey warned there was a “high probability” a stream of molten lava would reach a main highway on Hawaii’s Big Island within the week even as the momentum seemed to slow overnight.

Officials are preparing for the possibility that the Daniel K Inouye Highway, which connects the communities of Hilo and Kona, could be shut down within the week despite the flow slowing its advance.

“It’ll probably come around the north side of Pu’u Huluhulu, which is right at the Mauna Kea turnoff on Saddle Road,” said Ken Hon, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge, at a news conference.

The lava flow was previously moving at a rate of 130 meters an hour, but as of Thursday night, Mr Hon confirmed that it had slowed to just 30 yards per hour as the lava had hit a flat terrain.

Dramatic photos show flying lava at Mauna Loa

11:00 , Josh Marcus

As Mauna Loa continues to erupt, Hawai’i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources is sharing a number of dramatic views of the volcano in action.

Here are some of the most striking pictures and videos.

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ICYMI: What’s happening at Mauna Loa right now?

10:00 , Josh Marcus

Hawaii’s National Weather Service branch has issued an ashfall warning after an eruption began on Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth, on the state’s Big Island.

The eruption, the volcano’s first in nearly four decades, has triggered dozens of earthquakes of more than 2.5 magnitudes on the Richter scale, one of them clocking in at 4.2.

According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, the eruption began at approximately 11.30pm Hawaii time on Sunday night. The service warned that “winds may carry volcanic gas and possibly fine ash and Pele’s Hair downwind”.

We’ve got all the details you need to know.

What’s happening at Mauna Loa right now?

VIDEO: Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano is erupting

09:00 , Johanna Chisholm

How many people are in danger?

08:00 , Associated Press

Although there is no immediate danger to communities on Hawaii’s Big Island, officials have warned residents to be ready for the worst.

Many current residents weren’t living there when Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago. The US Geological Survey warned the roughly 200,000 people on the Big Island that an eruption “can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.”

The eruption began late Sunday night following a series of fairly large earthquakes, said Ken Hon, the scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

There’s been a surge of development on the Big Island in recent decades — its population has more than doubled, from 92,000 in 1980.

Most of the people on the island live in the city of Kailua-Kona to the west of the volcano, which has about 23,000 people, and Hilo to the east, with about 45,000. Officials were most worried about several subdivisions about 30 miles to the south of the volcano, which are home to about 5,000 people.

AP

Governor concerned about car accidents as tourists flock to island to catch sight of rare volcano eruption

07:00 , Johanna Chisholm

Hawaii Governor David Ige has reiterated that it’s “completely safe” to come visit the state’s Big Island to catch a glimpse of Mauna Loa’s eruption, noting that since the “eruption site is high up the mountain, and it’s in a relatively isolated location.”

But Gov Ige has cautioned that the uptick in tourists on the island, particularly as main highways are at risk of being shutdown, could increase the risk for another kind of hazard: car accidents.

“We are concerned because visitors and residents are stopping along the highway, and sometimes drivers are not paying attention fully,” he said, adding that distracted drivers gawking at the volcano and drivers parking illegally on main thoroughfares could create a potentially lethal combination.

For instance, just hours after Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth banned parking alongside the highway, a car was hit as it was driving off the shoulder to the main road.

Parking along the road is currently prohibited between mile markers 16 to 31, and any vehicles left there could be towed or ticketed with a $1,000 fine.

“So we are concerned about traffic control on the highway,” added Gov Ige.

Where is Mauna Loa?

06:00 , Associated Press

Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that together make up the Big Island of Hawaii, which is the southernmost island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It’s not the tallest (that title goes to Mauna Kea) but it’s the largest and makes up about half of the island’s land mass.

It sits immediately north of Kilauea volcano, which is currently erupting from its summit crater. Kilauea is well-known for a 2018 eruption that destroyed 700 homes and sent rivers of lava spreading across farms and into the ocean.

Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago. In written history, dating to 1843, it’s erupted 33 times.

The Big Island is mostly rural and is home to cattle ranches, coffee farms and beach resorts. It’s about 200 miles (320 kilometers) south of Hawaii’s most populous island, Oahu, where the state capital Honolulu and beach resort Waikiki are both located.

AP

Scientists assure public following worries about South Kona community

05:05 , Associated Press

Officials were initially concerned that lava flowing down Mauna Loa would head toward the community of South Kona, but scientists later assured the public the eruption had migrated to a rift zone on the volcano’s northeast flank and wasn’t threatening communities.

The lava was flowing “not super fast” at less than 1 mph, Ken Hon, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said Tuesday. It was moving downhill about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from Saddle Road, which connects the eastern and western sides of Hawaii’s Big Island.

The flow was likely to slow down about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from the road, when it hits flatter ground.

It was not clear when or if the lava will reach the road.

The smell of volcanic gases and sulfur was thick Tuesday along Saddle Road, where people watched the wide stream of lava creep closer. Clouds cleared to reveal a large plume of gas and ash rising from a vent on the mountain.

USGS warns ‘high probability’ lava could reach highway

04:05 , Johanna Chisholm

The US Geological Survey warned during a Wednesday evening press conference that there was a “high probability” that the lava crawling from the erupting Mauna Loa volcano could reach a main highway on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Officials are preparing for the possibility that the Daniel K Inouye Highway, which connects the communities of Hilo and Kona on the island, could be shut down within days as the molten lava continues to flow across the terrain.

“It’ll probably come around the north side of Pu’u Huluhulu, which is right at the Mauna Kea turnoff on Saddle Road,” said Ken Hon, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge, at a news conference Wednesday, according to Hawaii News Now.

The lava flow was previously moving at a rate of 130 meters an hour, which if maintained, means it could reach the main thoroughfare by Friday, the USGS said.

But as of 7pm local time on Wednesday, Mr Hon had confirmed that it had slowed to just 24 metres per hour, as the lava had hit a flat terrain.

“The terrain is what is slowing it down. There’s no doubt about it also getting more distant from vent... we’re seeing more crystal... they get hard and like block start providing resistance,” he explained.

Officials within the state were preparing for the seemingly inevitable shutdown of the highway as they mapped out routes for diverting traffic, if needed.

Hawaii Governor David Ige had previously said that, should this shutdown come, he plans to activate the Hawaii National Guard to help set up critical infrastructure and “support planning for alternative routes and help with making available bypass routes if that becomes necessary.”

PHOTOS: Spectators flock to Hawaii to view eruption

03:05 , Johanna Chisholm

People pose for a photo in front of lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
People pose for a photo in front of lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Ingrid Yang, left, and Kelly Bruno, both of San Diego, take a photo in front of lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Ingrid Yang, left, and Kelly Bruno, both of San Diego, take a photo in front of lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Kelly Ann Kobayashi raises her hands as she poses for a picture for Chad Saito, left, while standing on hardened lava rock from a previous eruption as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts, behind, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Kelly Ann Kobayashi raises her hands as she poses for a picture for Chad Saito, left, while standing on hardened lava rock from a previous eruption as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts, behind, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)

Medical professionals in Hawaii warn of possible hospital influx from vog-related illness

02:05 , Johanna Chisholm

Though officials in Hawaii have yet to chance the risk posed to communities because of Mauna Loa’s eruption, medical officials on the Big Island are sounding the alarm over another possible threat: vog-related illnesses.

“Those who are have respiratory illnesses and distress, this is the time to prepare and work with your primary care provider to make sure your medication supplies are filled and refilled,” said Elena Cabatu, Director of Public Affairs for Hilo Medical Center, in an interview with Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Department of Health warned earlier in the week about the risks of air quality hazards such as vog conditions, ash in the air, and rising levels of sulfur dioxide.

And though hospitals in the area haven’t experienced any influx in patients experiencing these symptoms, they caution that there is a possibility that could come later.

A Vog Measurement and Prediction Program at the University of Hawaii shows there are currently traces of the hazardous sulfur dioxide hanging in the air around Mauna Loa.

“Very much a familiar smell in terms of eruption,” Cabatu said. “It’s an early warning signal for us to take precaution.”

Hawaii governor says he plans to activate National Guard if lava reaches highway

01:05 , Johanna Chisholm

As a stream of molten lava continues inching towards a main highway on Hawaii’s Big Island, threatening to shut down the thoroughfare and reroute traffic between two main communities, officials in the state are saying they’re urging residents to be prepared for delays.

Hawaii Governor David Ige said Wednesday that he plans to activate the Hawaii National Guard to help set up critical infrastructure and “support planning for alternative routes and help with making available bypass routes if that becomes necessary.”

Ed Sniffen, the deputy director of highways for the state department of transportation, confirmed that the state’s agencies are preparing for a probably necessary shut down when and if the lava reaches the highway, known more commonly as Saddle Road.

“All the equipment necessary to shut down the road where it was necessary, to put a message board, so we can alert everyone in advance of the shutdowns, and that we can clear the Hamakua coast of any lane restrictions that we have on that area,” said Mr Sniffen.

Officials discuss diversion efforts as lava flow creeps closer to main highway

00:05 , Johanna Chisholm

Talmadge Magno, of the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency, told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday that officials on the island have already begun discussing whether a diversion of the lava flowing from Mauna Loa could be implemented, but nothing has been set in stone.

“Past examples did not work and we are going to be getting info from USGS as far as scenarios where there was success around diversion around the globe,” Magno said, according to Hawaii News Now.

Such efforts that the civil defence official was perhaps pointing back to include a diversion that was attempted back in 1935 when the Big Island volcano was erupting, and a lava flow was threatening to spill into a vital water resource for residents.

At that time, Thomas Jaggar, the founder of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, called on the military to take action against the volcano as it threatened to spoil the Wailuku River, which supplied water for Hilo residents.

A bombing of the volcano was ordered by Gen George Patton and though the flow did wane over the course of the next few days, its overall direction was not changed in a significant manner, prompting scientists to theorise that the bombing hadn’t been what actually stopped it.

‘Spectacular’: Tourists flock to Hawaii to see volcano erupting for first time in 38 years

Thursday 1 December 2022 23:00 , Johanna Chisholm

Tourists have flocked to Hawaii to witness the world’s largest active volcano erupting, with fountains of lava being spewed out reaching over 100 feet high.

This is the first eruption of Mauna Loa in 38 years, with eruptive activity at the site last seen in 1984. Smaller nearby volcano, Kilauea, has been erupting since 2021, so both can be viewed from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

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The park is open 24 hours a day and, as reported by Stuff, tourists have seen the best views at night and before sunrise.

Spokesperson for the National Park, Jessica Ferracane, said: “The viewing has been spectacular,” before adding that, “this is a rare time where we have two eruptions happening simultaneously.”

Helen Wilson-Beevers has more details here.

Tourists flock to Hawaii to see ‘spectacular’ volcano eruption

Volcano knocks Mauna Loa carbon monitoring station offline

Thursday 1 December 2022 22:00 , Johanna Chisholm

The eruption of Hawaii‘s Mauna Loa volcano has temporarily knocked off power to the world’s premier station that measures heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but officials Wednesday say it won’t be a problem.

There are hundreds of other carbon dioxide monitoring sites across the globe. The federal government is looking for a temporary alternate site on the Hawaiian island and is contemplating flying a generator to the Mauna Loa observatory to get its power back so it can take measurements again, said officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Monitoring Lab in Colorado that operates the station.

The Hawaiian station goes back to 1958 and is the main site for the famous Keeling Curve that shows rising carbon dioxide levels from burning of coal, oil and natural gas that tracks with rising temperatures. Levels of carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa have increased 33 per cent since 1958.

The Independent has more here about Mauna Loa’s carbon monitoring station.

Volcano knocks Mauna Loa carbon monitoring station offline

Watch: Raging Mauna Loa eruption captured in stunning aerial footage

Thursday 1 December 2022 21:00 , Johanna Chisholm

Stunning aerial footage has captured the scarily-beautiful sight of lava being fired high into the air as Mauna Loa rages in Hawaii.

Paradise Helicopters shot this video while flying overhead the dramatic scene on Tuesday (29 November), showing the roaring red eruption.

It is the first time the world’s largest active volcano has blown in 38 years.

Lava was fewer than five miles away from the island’s main highway on Wednesday morning.

Hawaii’s County Civil Defense Agency, however, said communities were not under threat as things stand.

Watch the full clip here.

Raging Mauna Loa eruption captured in stunning aerial footage

A flare and a spare: Hawaii volcano visitors see 2 eruptions

Thursday 1 December 2022 20:00 , Johanna Chisholm

The first eruption in 38 years of Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, is drawing visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is open 24 hours a day.

“The viewing has been spectacular,” especially at night and before sunrise, park spokesperson Jessica Ferracane said.

Visitors to the park are currently able to witness two eruptive events: the glow from Kilauea’s lava lake and lava from a Mauna Loa fissure.

“This is a rare time where we have two eruptions happening simultaneously,” Ferracane said.

Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984. The current eruption is its 34th since written history began in 1843. Its smaller neighbor, Kilauea, has been erupting since September 2021.

Read more about the duelling eruptions with The Independent.

A flare and a spare: Hawaii volcano visitors see 2 eruptions

Prayers? Bombs? Hawaii history shows stopping lava not easy

Thursday 1 December 2022 19:00 , Johanna Chisholm

Prayer. Bombs. Walls. Over the decades, people have tried all of them to stanch the flow of lava from Hawaii‘s volcanoes as it lumbered toward roads, homes and infrastructure.

Now Mauna Loa — the world’s largest active volcano — is erupting again, and lava is slowly approaching a major thoroughfare connecting the Big Island’s east and west sides. And once more, people are asking if anything can be done to stop or divert the flow.

“It comes up every time there’s an eruption and there’s lava heading towards habited areas or highways. Some people say ‘Build a wall’ or ‘Board up’ and other people say, ‘No don’t!,’” said Scott Rowland, a geologist at the University of Hawaii.

Humans have rarely had much success stopping lava and, despite the world’s technological advances, doing so is still difficult and dependent on the force of the flow and the terrain. But many in Hawaii also question the wisdom of interfering with nature and Pele, the Hawaiian deity of volcanoes and fire.

Attempts to divert lava have a long history in Hawaii.

Read more on The Independent here.

Prayers? Bombs? Hawaii history shows stopping lava not easy

USGS warns ‘high probability’ lava could reach highway

Thursday 1 December 2022 18:00 , Johanna Chisholm

The US Geological Survey warned during a Wednesday evening press conference that there was a “high probability” that the lava crawling from the erupting Mauna Loa volcano could reach a main highway on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Officials are preparing for the possibility that the Daniel K Inouye Highway, which connects the communities of Hilo and Kona on the island, could be shut down within days as the molten lava continues to flow across the terrain.

“It’ll probably come around the north side of Pu’u Huluhulu, which is right at the Mauna Kea turnoff on Saddle Road,” said Ken Hon, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge, at a news conference Wednesday, according to Hawaii News Now.

The lava flow was previously moving at a rate of 130 meters an hour, which if maintained, means it could reach the main thoroughfare by Friday, the USGS said.

But as of 7pm local time on Wednesday, Mr Hon had confirmed that it had slowed to just 24 metres per hour, as the lava had hit a flat terrain.

“The terrain is what is slowing it down. There’s no doubt about it also getting more distant from vent... we’re seeing more crystal... they get hard and like block start providing resistance,” he explained.

Officials within the state were preparing for the seemingly inevitable shutdown of the highway as they mapped out routes for diverting traffic, if needed.

Hawaii Governor David Ige had previously said that, should this shutdown come, he plans to activate the Hawaii National Guard to help set up critical infrastructure and “support planning for alternative routes and help with making available bypass routes if that becomes necessary.”

Governor concerned about car accidents as tourists flock to island to catch sight of rare volcano eruption

Thursday 1 December 2022 17:00 , Johanna Chisholm

Hawaii Governor David Ige has reiterated that it’s “completely safe” to come visit the state’s Big Island to catch a glimpse of Mauna Loa’s eruption, noting that since the “eruption site is high up the mountain, and it’s in a relatively isolated location.”

But the Gov Ige has cautioned that the uptick in tourists on the island, particularly as main highways are at risk of being shutdown, could increase the risk for another kind of hazard: car accidents.

“We are concerned because visitors and residents are stopping along the highway, and sometimes drivers are not paying attention fully,” he said, adding that distracted drivers gawking at the volcano and drivers parking illegally on main thoroughfares could create a potentially lethal combination.

For instance, just hours after Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth banned parking alongside the highway, a car was hit as it was driving off the shoulder to the main road.

Parking along the road is currently prohibited between mile markers 16 to 31, and any vehicles left there could be towed or ticketed with a $1,000 fine.

“So we are concerned about traffic control on the highway,” added Gov Ige.

USGS finds Pele’s hairs many kilometres away from erupting volcano fissures

Thursday 1 December 2022 16:00 , Johanna Chisholm

The USGS confirmed on Wednesday that a geology field team had already begun finding Pele’s hairs - volcanic glass formation made from cooled lava stretched into thin strands - many kilometres away from the erutping fissures on Mauna Loa.

“#HVO‘s geology field team reports they are finding Pele’s hairs (small filaments of quenched lava) draped across older lava flows near Saddle Road, just past Pu‘u Huluhulu cinder cone. Hairs deposited many km (mi) from active vents by the windblown eruption plume,” tweeted the USGS on Wednesday.

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VIDEO: Mauna Loa volcano spews lava in mesmerising flyover footage

Thursday 1 December 2022 15:00 , Johanna Chisholm

Mesmerising footage captured from the skies shows Mauna Loa volcano spewing ash and lava into the air.

The world’s largest active volcano started erupting on Sunday night (27 November) in Hawaii for the first time in 38 years.

No populated areas were under threat, the US Geological Survey said on Monday, but officials will provide ongoing updates if that changes.

Dozens of earthquakes were triggered by the eruption, one of a 4.2 magnitude on the Richter scale.

Volcano knocks Mauna Loa carbon monitoring station offline

Thursday 1 December 2022 14:00 , Johanna Chisholm

The eruption of Hawaii‘s Mauna Loa volcano has temporarily knocked off power to the world’s premier station that measures heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but officials Wednesday say it won’t be a problem.

There are hundreds of other carbon dioxide monitoring sites across the globe. The federal government is looking for a temporary alternate site on the Hawaiian island and is contemplating flying a generator to the Mauna Loa observatory to get its power back so it can take measurements again, said officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Monitoring Lab in Colorado that operates the station.

The Hawaiian station goes back to 1958 and is the main site for the famous Keeling Curve that shows rising carbon dioxide levels from burning of coal, oil and natural gas that tracks with rising temperatures. Levels of carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa have increased 33% since 1958.

The station at 11,300 feet high (3,444 meters), has a 131-foot (40-meter) tower that collects air to measure levels of carbon dioxide, radiation and other materials. Even though the flow of lava isn’t near the station it cut off power lines further down the mountain, officials said.

“This is sort of our flagship station,” said Colm Sweeney, the monitoring lab’s associate director. “The scientific value of Mauna Loa is really in what it stands for. It also is one of the cleanest signals that we have.”

Read more:

Volcano knocks Mauna Loa carbon monitoring station offline

Hawaii governor says he plans to activate National Guard if lava reaches highway

Thursday 1 December 2022 13:00 , Johanna Chisholm

As a stream of molten lava continues inching towards a main highway on Hawaii’s Big Island, threatening to shut down the thoroughfare and reroute traffic between two main communities, officials in the state are saying they’re urging residents to be prepared for delays.

Hawaii Governor David Ige said Wednesday that he plans to activate the Hawaii National Guard to help set up critical infrastructure and “support planning for alternative routes and help with making available bypass routes if that becomes necessary.”

Ed Sniffen, the deputy director of highways for the state department of transportation, confirmed that the state’s agencies are preparing for a probably necessary shut down when and if the lava reaches the highway, known more commonly as Saddle Road.

“All the equipment necessary to shut down the road where it was necessary, to put a message board, so we can alert everyone in advance of the shutdowns, and that we can clear the Hamakua coast of any lane restrictions that we have on that area,” said Mr Sniffen.

‘Spectacular’: Tourists flock to Hawaii to see volcano erupting for first time in 38 years

Thursday 1 December 2022 12:05 , Johanna Chisholm

Tourists have flocked to Hawaii to witness the world’s largest active volcano erupting, with fountains of lava being spewed out reaching over 100 feet high.

This is the first eruption of Mauna Loa in 38 years, with eruptive activity at the site last seen in 1984. Smaller nearby volcano, Kilauea, has been erupting since 2021, so both can be viewed from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

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The park is open 24 hours a day and, as reported by Stuff, tourists have seen the best views at night and before sunrise.

Spokesperson for the National Park, Jessica Ferracane, said: “The viewing has been spectacular,” before adding that, “this is a rare time where we have two eruptions happening simultaneously.”

USGS warns ‘high probability’ lava could reach highway

Thursday 1 December 2022 11:22 , Johanna Chisholm

The US Geological Survey warned during a Wednesday evening press conference that there was a “high probability” that the lava crawling from the erupting Mauna Loa volcano could reach a main highway on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Officials are preparing for the possibility that the Daniel K Inouye Highway, which connects the communities of Hilo and Kona on the island, could be shut down within days as the molten lava continues to flow across the terrain.

“It’ll probably come around the north side of Pu’u Huluhulu, which is right at the Mauna Kea turnoff on Saddle Road,” said Ken Hon, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge, at a news conference Wednesday, according to Hawaii News Now.

The lava flow was previously moving at a rate of 130 meters an hour, which if maintained, means it could reach the main thoroughfare by Friday, the USGS said.

But as of 7pm local time on Wednesday, Mr Hon had confirmed that it had slowed to just 24 metres per hour, as the lava had hit a flat terrain.

“The terrain is what is slowing it down. There’s no doubt about it also getting more distant from vent... we’re seeing more crystal... they get hard and like block start providing resistance,” he explained.

Officials within the state were preparing for the seemingly inevitable shutdown of the highway as they mapped out routes for diverting traffic, if needed.

Hawaii Governor David Ige had previously said that, should this shutdown come, he plans to activate the Hawaii National Guard to help set up critical infrastructure and “support planning for alternative routes and help with making available bypass routes if that becomes necessary.”

Lava tumbles slowly towards Saddle Road

Thursday 1 December 2022 11:00 , The Associated Press

The lava was tumbling slowly down the slope and was about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the highway known as Saddle Road. It was not clear when, or if, it would cover the road, which runs through old lava flows.

The road bisects the island and connects the cities of Hilo and Kailua-Kona. People traveling between them would need to take a longer coastal road if Saddle Road becomes impassable, adding several hours of drive time.

Ken Hon, scientist in charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said at current rate of flow, the soonest the lava would get to the road is two days, but he added that things could change.

Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984. The current eruption is its 34th since written record keeping began in 1843. Its smaller neighbor, Kilauea, has been erupting since September 2021, so visitors to the national park were being treated to the rare sight of two simultaneous eruptive events: the glow from Kilauea’s lava lake and lava from a Mauna Loa fissure.

Abel Brown, a visitor from Las Vegas, was impressed by the natural forces on display. He planned to take a close-up helicopter tour later in the day — but not too close.

“There’s a lot of fear and trepidation if you get really close to it,” Brown said. “The closer you get, the more powerful it is and the more scary it is.”

PHOTOS: Spectators flock to Hawaii to view eruption

Thursday 1 December 2022 10:00 , Gustaf Kilander

Spectators watch the lava flow down the mountain from the Mauna Loa eruption, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Spectators watch the lava flow down the mountain from the Mauna Loa eruption, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Brian Lichtenstein, of San Diego, takes a photo in front of lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Brian Lichtenstein, of San Diego, takes a photo in front of lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Abigail Dewar, of Alberta, Canada, holds a stuffed animal as she walks over hardened lava rock from a previous eruption as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts, behind, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Abigail Dewar, of Alberta, Canada, holds a stuffed animal as she walks over hardened lava rock from a previous eruption as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts, behind, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Kelly Ann Kobayashi raises her hands as she poses for a picture for Chad Saito, left, while standing on hardened lava rock from a previous eruption as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts, behind, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Kelly Ann Kobayashi raises her hands as she poses for a picture for Chad Saito, left, while standing on hardened lava rock from a previous eruption as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts, behind, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
People pose for a photo in front of lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
People pose for a photo in front of lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Ingrid Yang, left, and Kelly Bruno, both of San Diego, take a photo in front of lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)
Ingrid Yang, left, and Kelly Bruno, both of San Diego, take a photo in front of lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii (AP)

Viewers flock to eruption of world’s largest volcano

Thursday 1 December 2022 09:00 , The Associated Press

The world’s largest volcano oozed rivers of glowing lava Wednesday, drawing thousands of awestruck viewers who jammed a Hawaiian highway that could soon be covered by the flow.

Mauna Loa awoke from its 38-year slumber Sunday, causing volcanic ash and debris to drift down from the sky. A main highway linking towns on the east and west coasts of the Big Island became an impromptu viewing point, with thousands of cars jamming the highway near Volcanoes National Park.

Anne Andersen left her overnight shift as a nurse to see the spectacle Wednesday, afraid that the road would soon be closed.

“It’s Mother Nature showing us her face,” she said, as the volcano belched gas on the horizon. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Gordon Brown, a visitor from Loomis, California, could see the bright orange lava from the bedroom of his rental house. So he headed out for a close-up view with his wife.

“We just wanted … to come see this as close as we could get. And it is so bright, it just blows my mind,” Brown said.

The lava was tumbling slowly down the slope and was about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the highway known as Saddle Road. It was not clear when, or if, it would cover the road, which runs through old lava flows.

Scientists assure public following worries about South Kona community

Thursday 1 December 2022 08:00 , The Associated Press

Officials were initially concerned that lava flowing down Mauna Loa would head toward the community of South Kona, but scientists later assured the public the eruption had migrated to a rift zone on the volcano’s northeast flank and wasn’t threatening communities.

The lava was flowing “not super fast” at less than 1 mph, Ken Hon, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said Tuesday. It was moving downhill about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from Saddle Road, which connects the eastern and western sides of Hawaii’s Big Island.

The flow was likely to slow down about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from the road, when it hits flatter ground.

It was not clear when or if the lava will reach the road.

The smell of volcanic gases and sulfur was thick Tuesday along Saddle Road, where people watched the wide stream of lava creep closer. Clouds cleared to reveal a large plume of gas and ash rising from a vent on the mountain.

Concerns grow that lava is moving towards road

Thursday 1 December 2022 06:30 , Gustaf Kilander

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A flare and a spare: Hawaii volcano visitors see 2 eruptions

Thursday 1 December 2022 05:30 , The Associated Press

The first eruption in 38 years of Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, is drawing visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is open 24 hours a day.

“The viewing has been spectacular,” especially at night and before sunrise, park spokesperson Jessica Ferracane said.

Visitors to the park are currently able to witness two eruptive events: the glow from Kilauea’s lava lake and lava from a Mauna Loa fissure.

“This is a rare time where we have two eruptions happening simultaneously,” Ferracane said.

Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984. The current eruption is its 34th since written history began in 1843. Its smaller neighbor, Kilauea, has been erupting since September 2021.

Read more:

A flare and a spare: Hawaii volcano visitors see 2 eruptions

VIDEO: Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano is erupting

Thursday 1 December 2022 04:30 , Gustaf Kilander

Why didn’t Mauna Loa explode like Mount St Helens?

Thursday 1 December 2022 03:30 , Johanna Chisholm

Fifty-seven people died when Washington state’s Mount St Helens erupted in 1980 and blasted more than 1,300ft (400m) off the top of the mountain. Steam, rocks and volcanic gas burst upward and outward. A plume of volcanic ash rose over 80,000ft (24,384m) and rained down as far as 250 miles (400km) away.

Hawaii volcanoes like Mauna Loa tend not to have explosion eruptions like this.

That’s because their magma is hotter, drier and more fluid, said Hannah Dietterich, a research geophysicist at the US Geological Survey’s Alaska Volcano Observatory.

The magma in Mount St Helens tends to be stickier and traps more gas, making it much more likely to explode when it rises.

The gas in the magma of Hawaii’s volcanoes tends to escape, and so lava flows down the side of their mountains when they erupt.

Hawaii’s volcanoes are called shield volcanoes because successive lava flows over hundreds of thousands of years build broad mountains that resemble the shape of a warrior’s shield.

Shield volcanos are also found in California and Idaho as well as Iceland and the Galapagos Islands. Alaska’s Wrangell-St Elias National Park has eight shield volcanoes including Mount Wrangell.

Volcanoes like Mount St. Helens are called composite or stratovolcanoes. Their steep, conical slopes are built by the eruption of viscous lava flows and rock, ash and gas. Japan’s Mount Fuji is another example of a composite volcano.

AP

How are volcanic eruptions impacted by climate change?

Thursday 1 December 2022 02:30 , Johanna Chisholm

While the eruption of Mauna Loa is a rare occurrence, the climate crisis could lead to more volcanic activity, some scientists say.

The greenhouse gas emissions heating the planet are melting glaciers and in turn destabilizing mountains, creating conditions for volcanic eruptions that were previously restrained.

“Imagine the ice like some sort of protective layer – when the ice melts away, the mountain is free to collapse,” Gioachino Roberti, a PhD student researching volcanic activity at the University of Clermont Auvergne, previously told The Independent. “If your mountain is a volcano you have another problem. Volcanoes are a pressurised system and if you remove pressure by ice melting and landslide, you have a problem.”

Louise Boyles reports.

How does climate change impact volcanic eruptions?

Hawaii transport agency issues guidance to air passengers

Thursday 1 December 2022 01:30 , Johanna Chisholm

The Hawaii Department of Transportation has issued guidance to air passengers in light of the eruption of Mauna Loa as the situation develops.

Hawaii Island Passengers with flights to Hilo International Airport (ITO) or the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) should check with their airline prior to heading to the airport due to the volcanic activity at Mauna Loa.

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How many people are in danger?

Thursday 1 December 2022 00:30 , Johanna Chisholm

Although there is no immediate danger to communities on Hawaii’s Big Island, officials have warned residents to be ready for the worst.

Many current residents weren’t living there when Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago. The US Geological Survey warned the roughly 200,000 people on the Big Island that an eruption “can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.”

The eruption began late Sunday night following a series of fairly large earthquakes, said Ken Hon, the scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

There’s been a surge of development on the Big Island in recent decades — its population has more than doubled, from 92,000 in 1980.

Most of the people on the island live in the city of Kailua-Kona to the west of the volcano, which has about 23,000 people, and Hilo to the east, with about 45,000. Officials were most worried about several subdivisions about 30 miles to the south of the volcano, which are home to about 5,000 people.

AP

One month ago: Hawaii’s Big Island gets warning as huge volcano rumbles

Wednesday 30 November 2022 23:30 , Johanna Chisholm

Authorities warned Hawaii residents to prepare one month ago...

Hawaii officials are warning residents of the Big Island that the world’s largest active volcano, Mauna Loa, is sending signals that it may erupt.

Although an eruption isn’t imminent, scientists are on alert because of a recent spike in earthquakes at the volcano’s summit. Experts say it would take just a few hours for lava to reach homes closest to the volcano, which last erupted in 1984.

Hawaii's Big Island gets warning as huge volcano rumbles