The summit caldera at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano started erupting around 11:30 p.m. Sunday.
Mauna Loa is the world’s largest active volcano, and is expected to send a layer of ash over the islands throughout the coming days as the eruption ramps up, according to Reuters. Notifications from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) were sent out to residents Sunday night that noted that “at this time, lava flows are contained within the summit area and are not threatening downslope communities.”
The @NWSHonolulu has issued an Ashfall Advisory for all of Hawai‘i island until 6 a.m. HST Monday. Up to a quarter-inch of ash is expected around and downwind of Mauna Loa. People with breathing difficulties should stay indoors, and cover nose/mouth with cloth or a mask. pic.twitter.com/iCX3er0Onb
— Hawaii EMA (@Hawaii_EMA) November 28, 2022
Using previous event modeling, USGS continued to note that the early stage of Mauna Loa’s eruptions can be “dynamic” and the “advance of lava flows can change rapidly.” While the hope is that the eruption will be contained inside of the Moku‘āweoweo caldera, there is a risk it may breach and send lava flows downslope.
Rapid increases in earthquakes around the volcano alerted residents and researchers to the impending eruption over three weeks ago, according to local reports. Fine ash, volcanic gas and fibers of volcanic glass are expected to be carried downwind, Newsweek noted. (RELATED: A Beer Shortage Is Brewing Thanks To Problem With Extinct Volcano)
Mauna Loa is more than half the size of the Big Island in Hawaii, and hasn’t erupted since March and April of 1984, Reuters noted. It’s almost impossible to predict the degree of the potential destruction from Sunday’s eruption, as previous ones have thrown massive amounts of lava out into the surrounding area in a short period of time.