Hawaii Blows its Top: The Mauna Loa eruption

Madds Whisenant, News Editor

The citizens of Hawaii watched on Nov. 27 as Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano violently erupted causing burning hot lava to pour down and ash to pollute the air. Mauna Loa erupted in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Mauna Loa is referred to as a shield volcano with round slopes and takes up 51 percent of the island. On average, there has been an eruption every five years since 1843 for a total of 33 eruptions. The worst eruption took place in 1868, killing 77 people along with causing a tsunami.
The eruption has lasted for weeks with no signs of ending. The vast, hot lava has streamed towards the northeast to major highways, such as the Daniel K. Inouye highway, bringing together some parts of the island. Thankfully, no one is in harm’s way as the lava flow has slowed due to inclines.
“Though the advance rate has slowed over the past several days, the lava flow remains active with a continuous supply from the fissure three vent,” the US Geological Survey reported.
Some experts have said that the lava could cover the entire highway, but is a couple of miles away. To further monitor the eruption, the Hawaii Defense Department(HDD) deployed the National Guard to aid in traffic control.
“With the lava being where it’s at, we feel pretty certain that the lava won’t impact any populated areas,” said Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth in an interview with Hawaii News Now.
Mauna Loa’s eruption has added to the eruption of Kilauea, located towards the south of the island. Kilauea began spewing out lava and ash in 2021 and is still erupting. The two eruptions have become a rare occurrence and sparked memories of the Kilauea eruption in 2018. Dorothy Thrall, a Hawaiian citizen, explained to CNN how Mauna Loa brought back memories of hardship during Kilauea.
“I thought I was doing pretty good, my neighbor called me Day 2 [of Mauna Loa’s eruption], and she was in tears. She says, ‘I have PTSD and I didn’t even know it.’ And I started crying, too, and I said, ‘I guess I do too.”
Hawaii’s officials are doing their best to reassure citizens that there is nothing to worry about and that they are not in any danger and continue to take action to protect the island from any damage. Due to the amount of volcanic ash and gases in the eruption, children, elderly residents and those with respiratory issues are advised to remain indoors and limit outdoor activities. Considering the long duration of the eruption, hopefully there is an end in sight and Hawaiian citizens will return to normalcy.