MAUNA LOA, WORLD’S LARGEST VOLCANO, ERUPTS FOR FIRST TIME IN NEARLY 40 YEARS
Volcanos are fascinating and scary. They are incredibly powerful manifestations of the pressures beneath the earth, which we have only been able to “see” in recent years with devices that measure vibrations, and even more recently with resonance scans. In other words, Volcanos are still a mystery in many ways. We might have some idea that one is about to erupt. Or, we might not at all. And now, the world’s largest active volcano, Mauna Loa, is erupting again for the first time in almost 40 years on the Big Island in Hawaii. It started this past weekend.
SO FAR, DANGEROUS MAUNA LOA LAVA FLOWS REMAIN IN THE SUMMIT CALDERA
40 years marks the volcano’s longest quiet period in recorded history. So yes, that means that Mauna Loa far, far predates when we humans started writing down the whens and whats of its activities. But that 40 years also highlights the mysteries that come with volcanos, as despite that long duration of inactivity, Mauna Loa was and is still the world’s largest active. Fortunately, this time (so far!) the lava flows don’t pose any danger to communities downslope. The eruption began in Moku‘āweoweo, which is the summit caldera, and the molten lava is contained there so far.
MAUNA LOA ERUPTION ALSO BRINGS ASH WARNING, WHICH CAN CAUSE SERIOUS INJURIES
But there was an ash fall advisory that ended Monday morning from the National Weather Service, warning that as much as a ¼ inch of ash could fall on large portions of the Big Island. And that ash can be dangerous, as it is comprised of small particles of sand that have very shard edges. In other words, if you breathe that in, it can be really dangerous even if you are strong and healthy. And, of course, Mauna Loa lava flows could still pose a threat, from one moment to the next. It has had 33 eruptions since 1843, with lava reaching as far as the ocean 8 times. In 1950, the eruption was so powerful that lava flows made it 15 miles to the ocean in only 3 hours.
So as you can imagine, locals are paying close attention again, for the first time in 40 years.