Mauna Loa eruption news: World’s largest volcano erupts in Hawaii triggering earthquakes

Related video: Mauna Loa Volcano Erupts

Sign up to our Evening Headlines email for your daily guide to the latest news

Sign up to our free US Evening Headlines email

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

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the eruption on the state’s Big Island began at approximately 11:30pm Hawaii time on Sunday in Mokuaweoweo, the summit caldera of the volcano.

Footage from US Geological Survey (USGS) webcams at the summit captured fountains of lava spewing from a long fissure and spreading across the caldera floor.

The USGS said the lava flows were initially contained in the summit area and do not pose a threat to communities downslope, but there are fears that could change.

The eruption has also already triggered dozens of earthquakes of more than 2.5 magnitude on the richter scale, one of them clocking in at 4.2.

The local NWS branch issued an ashfall warning which cautioned that “winds may carry volcanic gas and possibly fine ash and Pele’s hair downwind.”

Show latest update


Hawaii Tourism Authority says no flights affected so far amid ashfall alert

In an update Monday morning, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said that no flights have been affected thus far by the Mauna Loa eruption that began hours earlier.

“We are closely monitoring the eruption of Mokuʻāweoweo, which is not currently threatening communities downhill or affecting flights to the Island of Hawaiʻi,” the Twitter update read.

However, the organisation later reshared a warning from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency about ashfall.

“Up to a quarter-inch of ash is expected around and downwind of Mauna Loa,” it read. “People with breathing difficulties should stay indoors, and cover nose/mouth with cloth or a mask.”

Below is a map of where the eruption is taking place:


Megan Sheets28 November 2022 14:35


Mauna Loa is home to critical global CO2 monitoring site

On the north flank of the Mauna Loa Volcano sits the observatory holding the longest record of carbon dioxide (CO2) measurement in the atmosphere.

The measurements, started in 1958 by Charles David Keeling, a scientist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration facility, have been integral to the world’s understanding of the climate crisis.

The Mauna Loa Observatory is 11,135 feet above sea level making it an ideal location for gathering the data because of its remoteness from people and vegetation, and relatively undisturbed air.

CO2 is being pumped into the atmosphere mainly from burning fossil fuels. This heating of the planet is leading to increases in sea level rise and more extreme impacts like wildfires, floods and storms.

The last measurement of global daily CO2 was 418.05 parts per million (ppm) on 27th November, 2022 – and it continues to rise.

PPM refers to how many parts of carbon dioxide there are in one million parts of air. Climate scientists have suggested that around 350ppm would be a safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Louise Boyle28 November 2022 14:15


Warnings issued for weeks prior to eruption

For a typical day in mid-September, the site was experiencing approximately 20 quakes a day, but that number shifted up to 40 by the beginning of October.

In this four-tier advisory system, green is the lowest and equates to normal activity; yellow intimates that the “volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background activity”; orange is watch and means that there is “escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption”; and red means an eruption is “imminent, underway, or suspected”.

In October, the summit of Mauna Loa was closed to tourists in light of the heightened activity out of what the NPS called “a precautionary measure”.

Megan Sheets28 November 2022 13:55


Thermal image shows lava streaming from caldera fissure

The USGS released a thermal image that shows lava streaming from a long fissure in Mauna Loa’s caldera.

“At approximately 11:30 p.m. HST this evening, November 27, an eruption began in Moku‘āweoweo, the summit caldera of Mauna Loa, inside Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. At this time, lava flows are contained within the summit area and are not threatening downslope communities. Winds may carry volcanic gas and possibly fine ash and Pele’s hair downwind.

“Residents at risk from Mauna Loa lava flows should review preparedness and refer to Hawai‘i County Civil Defense information for further guidance.

“Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can be very dynamic and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.

“If the eruption remains in Moku‘āweoweo, lava flows will most likely be confined within the caldera walls. However, if the eruptive vents migrate outside its walls, lava flows may move rapidly downslope.

“HVO is in close consultation with emergency management partners and will be monitoring the volcano closely to provide further updates on activity. As soon as possible, HVO will conduct aerial reconnaissance to better describe the eruption and assess hazards.”

Megan Sheets28 November 2022 13:35


Website with information for Hawaii residents appears broken

The USGS shared a new update early Monday offering information for Hawaii residents – but the associated link appeared to be broken.

“Residents with questions about emergency response and resources that may be available to assist those at risk should consult” the update read followed by a link to a Hawaii County ArcGis site.

However, when clicked by The Independent, the link was broken.

The apparent tech issue could heighten tensions at a time when residents are eager for information about the eruption and the risk it could pose to them.

Megan Sheets28 November 2022 13:15


What is Mauna Loa and when did it last erupt?

In addition to Mauna Loa, Hawaii’s big island is made up of four major volcanoes: Kilauea, Mauna Kea, Hualalai and Kohala. Mauna Loa is by far the largest of the group and also holds the record among active volcanoes on the planet for being the biggest.

Mauna Loa – aptly named “Long Mountain” – stretches 13,679 feet into the air above the sea level where it covers half of the island’s length at 60 miles long and 30 miles wide. The summit caldera, called Mokuaweoweo, is itself three miles long.

The sky-scraping formation has been relatively quiet over the past few decades, as scientists celebrated the 30th anniversary of its last eruption on 25 March 2014.

Though the last one occurred in 1984, eruptions at Mauna Loa have been occurring for generations.

Since 1832, there’s been 39 eruptions documented while the USGS estimates that – on average – one has occurred every six years over the past 3,000 years.

Megan Sheets28 November 2022 12:55


USGS shares startling satellite view of eruption

The USGS  said the lava flows were initially contained in the summit area and do not pose a threat to communities downslope, but there are fears that could change.

The agency shared an infrared satellite view of the eruption on Twitter early Monday.

“It is looking like lava may be spilling out of the caldera. We’re trying to assess the extent. Eruptive fissures, however, remain confined to the caldera at this time,” the tweet read.

Megan Sheets28 November 2022 12:37


Ashfall warning triggered after Mauna Loa eruption begins

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

According to the National Weather Service, 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.”

The Independent’s Andrew Naughtie reports:

Megan Sheets28 November 2022 12:36

Leave a Comment