Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, has begun erupting, sending ash and volcanic debris down nearby, authorities said Monday.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the eruption began late Sunday night at the crater on top of a volcano on the Big Island. Early Monday, it said the lava flow was contained in the summit area and did not threaten neighboring communities.
“However, lava flows can be seen in the peak area from Kona. There is currently no indication of the eruption’s movement into the rift area,” the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said. in a statement. The rift zone is where the mountains are split, the rock is cracked and relatively weak, and magma is more easily raised.
Miel Corbett, a spokesman for the USGS, said how long the volcano erupted and whether it could cause lava to flow to residential areas on the island is impossible to predict.
“But I can tell you, we are currently in regular contact with the Hawaii Civil Defense Force and they are providing updates to community members,” she said.
The USGS warned residents at risk from the Mauna Loa lava flow to reconsider their eruption preparations. Scientists have been put on alert because of recent earthquakes spiked on top of the volcano, which last erupted in 1984.
Parts of the Big Island are covered by ash recommendations issued by the National Weather Service in Honolulu, which say up to 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) of ash can accumulate in some areas. .
Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that together make up the Big Island of Hawaii, the southernmost island of the Hawaiian archipelago.
Mauna Loa, 13,679 feet (4,169 meters) above sea level, is a much larger neighbor of the Kilauea volcano, which erupted in a residential area and destroyed 700 homes in 2018. Some of the slopes of the Kilauea volcano. it is much steeper than Kilauea so when it erupts its lava can flow much faster.
During a 1950 eruption, the mountain’s lava traveled 15 miles (24 km) out to sea in less than three hours.