Photos: Mauna Loa Eruption Continues on Hawaii's Big Island

Photos: Mauna Loa Eruption Continues on Hawaii's Big Island

The volcano began spewing in late November—for the first time in 40 years—and it hasn't stopped since.

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A woman watches the eruption of the Mauna Loa volcano on December 04, 2022 near Hilo, Hawaii.
A woman watches the eruption of the Mauna Loa volcano on December 04, 2022 near Hilo, Hawaii.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, began erupting in Hawaii in late November for the first time since 1984. Eruptions have continued for nearly two weeks, creating spectacular, slow-moving lava flows that so far have not threatened any local communities.

Earlier this week, officials worried that one of the lava flows would reach the Daniel K. Inouye Highway. But as of Thursday, the Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory said that’s no longer a concern, Hawaii News Now reported. Lava coming out one of the volcano’s fissures stopped feeding into the flow that was moving toward the highway. No one on the island faces immediate danger from the lava flows, Hawaii Emergency Management tweeted on Thursday.

“Mauna Loa and the Hawaiian volcanoes typically produce very, very runny, very effusive eruptions,” volcanologist Jess Phoenix recently told Earther. “So we’re not worried about a giant explosion—essentially, what people imagine is the worst-case scenario in Yellowstone.”

According to Phoenix, some volcanic eruptions can go on for over a year. The last time the Big Island volcano erupted was in 1984, and lava flows reached within four miles of Hilo’s city limits, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Mauna Loa is the largest of the five major volcanoes found on the Big Island, and it has erupted 33 times since modern records began in 1843. Its name means “long mountain,” which is fitting because it stretches about 10.5 miles from base to summit. It covers half of the surface area of Hawaii’s Big Island, according to the USGS.

Signs of a potential eruption were noticed by the agency in mid-September after the number of earthquakes below the Mauna Loa summit increased. The U.S. Geological Survey is tracking where the lava flows are going and how fast they are moving. This eruption has seen lava spew 200 to 500 feet in the air, the U.S. Geological Survey tweeted.

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Tower of Molten Earth

Tower of Molten Earth

In an aerial view, lava shoots up from a fissure of Mauna Loa Volcano as it erupts on December 05, 2022 in Hilo, Hawaii.
In an aerial view, lava shoots up from a fissure of Mauna Loa Volcano as it erupts on December 05, 2022 in Hilo, Hawaii.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)
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Spewing Lava

Spewing Lava

Lava shoots up from a fissure of Mauna Loa Volcano as it erupts on December 05, 2022 in Hilo, Hawaii.
Lava shoots up from a fissure of Mauna Loa Volcano as it erupts on December 05, 2022 in Hilo, Hawaii.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)
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Lava Stream

Lava Stream

Lava flows from a fissure of Mauna Loa Volcano as it erupts on December 05, 2022 in Hilo, Hawaii.
Lava flows from a fissure of Mauna Loa Volcano as it erupts on December 05, 2022 in Hilo, Hawaii.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)
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Red Skies

Red Skies

Clouds glow orange from the glow of lava that is flowing from the Mauna Loa volcano on December 03, 2022 near Hilo, Hawaii.
Clouds glow orange from the glow of lava that is flowing from the Mauna Loa volcano on December 03, 2022 near Hilo, Hawaii.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)
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Illuminating the Darkness

Illuminating the Darkness

Lava flows from the Mauna Loa volcano on December 04, 2022 near Hilo, Hawaii.
Lava flows from the Mauna Loa volcano on December 04, 2022 near Hilo, Hawaii.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)
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Extreme Selfie

Extreme Selfie

A group of people take a photo as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts behind them on December 04, 2022 near Hilo, Hawaii.
A group of people take a photo as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts behind them on December 04, 2022 near Hilo, Hawaii.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)
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Multiple Lava Flows

Multiple Lava Flows

In an aerial view, lava flows from a fissure of Mauna Loa Volcano as it erupts on December 05, 2022 in Hilo, Hawaii.
In an aerial view, lava flows from a fissure of Mauna Loa Volcano as it erupts on December 05, 2022 in Hilo, Hawaii.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)
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Molten Rock River

Molten Rock River

Lava flows from a fissure of Mauna Loa Volcano as it erupts on December 05, 2022 in Hilo, Hawaii.
Lava flows from a fissure of Mauna Loa Volcano as it erupts on December 05, 2022 in Hilo, Hawaii.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)
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Volcanic Views

Volcanic Views

A man talks on a phone in his car alongside Saddle Road as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii.
A man talks on a phone in his car alongside Saddle Road as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii.
Photo: Gregory Bull (AP)
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Night Watch

Night Watch

The Mauna Loa volcano erupts Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii.
The Mauna Loa volcano erupts Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii.
Photo: Gregory Bull (AP)
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