March 21, 2023

Audrey McAvoy | Related Press

HONOLULU — Lava rises 100 to 200 ft into the air as Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest lively volcano, erupts for the primary time in almost 40 years.

Right now, the lava doesn’t threaten any houses or communities, and no evacuation orders have been issued. Lava might ultimately attain areas because it flows downhill, though it could take per week or extra for the molten rock to achieve human settlements.

Mauna Loa spews sulfur dioxide and different volcanic gases. They kind volcanic smog, or vogue, when combined with fumes, oxygen, and dirt within the solar. In consequence, authorities well being authorities are urging folks to chop again on outside train and different actions that trigger respiratory difficulties.

Mauna Loa final erupted in 1984. Its smaller and extra lively neighbor, the Kilauea Volcano, has been erupting repeatedly for over a 12 months since September 2021.

The place is Mauna Loa situated?

Mauna Loa is without doubt one of the 5 volcanoes that make up the Huge Island of Hawaii, which is the southernmost island of the Hawaiian archipelago. It’s not the best (this identify belongs to Mauna Kea), however it’s the largest and makes up about half of the island’s land mass.

It’s situated immediately north of the Kilauea Volcano, well-known for its 2018 eruption that destroyed 700 houses and despatched rivers of lava by means of farms and into the ocean.

Mauna Loa final erupted 38 years in the past. The present eruption is the thirty fourth since recorded historical past started in 1843.

The massive island is generally rural, with livestock farms and low farms, however can also be dwelling to a number of smaller cities, together with the county seat of Hilo, with a inhabitants of 45,000.

It is about 200 miles south of Hawaii’s most populous island, Oahu, dwelling to the state capital of Honolulu and the seaside resort of Waikiki.

Mauna Loa’s quantity is estimated to be no less than 18,000 cubic miles, making it the biggest volcano on this planet when measured from the ocean ground to its summit.

The place does Mauna Loa erupt from?

The eruption started on Sunday night time at its summit after a sequence of robust earthquakes. Then it unfold to the vents shaped within the rift zone, the place the mountain splits, and it’s simpler for the magma to flee.

These vents are on the northeast facet of the mountain, and the lava flowing out of them can head in direction of Hilo, which is on the east facet of the island.

Ken Hon, chief scientist on the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, stated he doesn’t anticipate extra vents to kind within the volcano’s southwestern rift zone throughout this eruption. Which means that the communities within the west shall be freed from lava flows this time.

Mauna Loa additionally erupted from the northeast in 1984. Then the lava headed in direction of Hilo, however stopped just a few miles from the town.

Traditionally, every Mauna Loa eruption lasted a number of weeks. Hon expects the present eruption to observe this sample.

Mauna Loa is exploding like Mount St. Helens?

Mauna Loa would not explode like Mount St. Helens in Washington state in 1980, killing 57 folks. This eruption despatched ash rising to over 80,000 ft and raining as much as 250 miles.

Magma on Mount St. Helens tends to be stickier and maintain extra fuel, making it extra more likely to explode because it rises. It is a kind of compound volcanoes that kind concave cones.

Mauna Loa magma tends to be hotter, drier, and extra liquid. This permits the magma fuel to flee and the lava to move down the facet of the volcano, because it does now. Mauna Loa is a protect volcano, so named as a result of the lengthy, broad slopes constructed by repeated lava flows give it the looks of a warrior’s protect.

In 1989, Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano, one other composite volcano, erupted an 8 mile ash cloud that blew all 4 engines of a Royal Dutch Airways KLM plane. The aircraft crashed from 13,000 ft earlier than all engines had been restarted and the aircraft landed with out damage to the 245 folks on board.

This time, Mauna Loa launched some ash, however on a a lot smaller scale than these examples from compound volcanoes.

What are the hazards of the Mauna Loa eruption?

• Lava: Molten rock can coat homes, farms, or neighborhoods, relying on the place it flows. However lava from the northeast rift zone will possible take no less than per week to achieve settlements, giving folks time to evacuate if mandatory.

• volcanic fuel: Mauna Loa emits volcanic gases, primarily sulfur dioxide. The gases are current within the highest concentrations within the rapid neighborhood of the crater or summit vents. However additionally they mix with different particles to kind vogue, which might unfold throughout the Huge Island and even attain different islands within the state.

Vog may cause burning eyes, complications and sore throats in wholesome folks. He can ship folks with bronchial asthma or different respiratory issues to the hospital.

• Glass particles: When scorching lava bursts out of a fissure and cools quickly, it kinds glassy particles referred to as “Pele’s hair” and “Pele’s tears” after the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes.

Particles usually do not fly removed from volcano vents — perhaps just some hundred yards or miles — and will not threaten many individuals, stated Aaron Petrushka, an affiliate geoscientist on the College of Hawaii.

“It actually seems to be like strands of hair. And it’s right here that the liquid lava is stretched by the wind, forming lengthy skinny threads,” Petrushka stated.

Glass shards – from just a few millimeters to a couple inches – may be sharp.

“You wouldn’t need to dig into it since you would possibly reduce your self,” Petrushka stated.

An N95 or KF94 masks will defend towards these glass particles, however not towards volcanic fuel, stated Dr. Libby Char, director of the state Division of Well being.

Samples of “Pele’s hair” after the Kilauea eruption may be seen within the Hawaiian Volcanoes Nationwide Park.

How important are Mauna Loa’s greenhouse fuel emissions?

In keeping with the US Geological Survey, Mauna Loa emitted about 15,000 tons of carbon dioxide per day throughout the 1984 eruption.

That is equal to the annual emissions from 2,400 SUVs.

Scientists say that each one of Earth’s volcanoes mixed emit lower than one % of the carbon dioxide that people produce every year.

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