Hawaii’s Mauna Loa: What hazards are posed by the world’s largest active volcano?

HONOLULU: Lava is shooting from 100 feet to 200 feet (30 to 60 meters) into the air when Hawaii’s Mauna Loathe The world’s largest active volcanoerupted for the first time in nearly 40 years.
Currently, the lava does not threaten any homes or communities and no evacuation orders have been issued. Lava may eventually reach neighborhoods as it flows downhill although it can take a week or more for the molten rock to reach residential areas.
Mauna Loa is spewing sulfur dioxide and other volcanic gases. They form volcanic fumes, or vogs, when they mix with vapors, oxygen, and dust in sunlight. As a result, state health officials are urging people to limit outdoor exercise and other activities that cause labored breathing.
Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984. It was its smaller, more active neighbour, Kilauea . volcanohas been erupting continuously for more than a year since September 2021.
Where is Mauna Loa?
Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that together make up the Big Island of Hawaii, the southernmost island of the Hawaiian archipelago. It is not the tallest (that title goes to Mauna Kea) but it is the largest and covers about half of the island’s land area.
It lies just north of the Kilauea volcano, which is famous for its 2018 eruption that destroyed 700 homes and sent lava flows that spread across farms and into the ocean.
Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago. The current eruption is the 34th since written history began in 1843.
The Big Island is mostly rural and has cattle ranches and coffee farms but it is also home to several small cities, including the county seat of Hilo with a population of 45,000.
It’s about 200 miles (320 km) south of Hawaii’s most populous island, Oahu, home to the state capital of Honolulu and the beach resort of Waikiki.
Mauna Loa’s volume is estimated to be at least 18,000 square miles (75,000 square kilometers), making it the largest volcano in the world when measured from ocean floor to mountaintop.
Where does Mauna Loa erupt from?
The eruption began Sunday night at its peak after a series of major earthquakes. It then spread to vents that formed in the rift area where the mountain split and magma more readily emerged.
These vents are located on the northeast side of the mountain, and the lava that rises there could be directed towards Hilo on the east side of the island.
Ken Hon, chief scientist at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, said he did not expect additional vents to form over the southwestern rift area of ​​the volcano during this eruption. That means the communities in the west will avoid the lava flow this time.
Mauna Loa’s also erupted from the northeast in 1984. That time, the lava moved toward Hilo but stopped a few miles from the city.
Historically, each Mauna Loa eruption lasted several weeks. Hon expects the current eruption to follow this pattern.
How explosive is Mauna Loa? Mount St Helens?
Mauna Loa did not explode like Washington state’s Mount St Helens exploded in 1980, killing 57 people. That eruption sent flying ash more than 80,000 feet (24,384 meters) high and rained 250 miles (400 km) away.
Macma in Mount St. Helens tends to stick more and hold more gas, making it more likely to explode when raised. It belongs to a variety of so-called mixed volcanoes, forming concave cones.
Mauna Loa’s magma tends to be hotter, drier, and more liquid. That allows the magma’s gas to escape and the lava to flow down the side of the volcano the way it is starting to do now. Mauna Loa is a shield volcano, so named because of the long and wide slopes formed by repeated lava flows that make it look like a warrior’s shield.
In 1989, Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano, another fusion volcano, created an 8-mile cloud of ash that clogged all four engines of a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines jet. The plane crashed at 13,000 feet before all engines restarted and the plane landed without injury to the 245 people on board.
This time Mauna Loa released some ash but on a much smaller scale than these examples from fusion volcanoes.
What dangers posed by Mauna Loa’s eruption?
Lava: Molten rock can cover homes, farms, or residential areas, depending on where it flows. But lava from the northeast rift will likely take at least a week to reach densely populated areas, allowing people time to evacuate if needed.
Volcanic Gases: Mauna Loa is releasing volcanic gases, mainly sulfur dioxide. These gases are most concentrated in the area around the crater or top vent. But they also combine with other counties to form vogs, which can spread across the Big Island and even spread to other islands in the state.
Vog can cause eye burns, headaches and sore throats in healthy people. It can send people with asthma or other breathing problems to the hospital.
Glass Beads: When hot lava erupts from the rift and cools rapidly, it forms glass beads named “Pele’s hair” and “Pele’s tears” after the mountain goddess Hawaiian fire.
Aaron Pietruszka, an associate professor in the University of Hawaii’s Department of Earth Sciences, said the particles tend not to travel far from the crater – maybe just a few hundred yards or a mile and won’t pose a threat to many people.
“It literally looks like hairs,” says Pietruszka. And that’s where the liquid lava is stretched by the wind to form long, thin strands.”
Pieces of glass — as short as a few millimeters or as long as several inches — can be sharp.
“You wouldn’t want to get your hands on it because you could cut your hand,” says Pietruszka.
The N95 or KF94 mask will protect against these glass particles but not against volcanic gases, said Dr Libby Char, director of the state Department of Health.
A specimen of “Pele’s hair” from the Kilauea volcano eruption can be seen in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
How significant are Mauna Loa’s greenhouse gas emissions?
Mauna Loa emitted about 15,000 tons of carbon dioxide per day during its 1984 eruption, according to USGS data.
That equates to annual emissions from 2,400 sport utility vehicles.
All of the volcanoes on Earth combined, scientists say, emit less than one percent of the carbon dioxide humans produce each year.

Hawaiian volcano Mauna Loa eruption poses threat

Hawaiian volcano Mauna Loa eruption poses threat


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