World's largest active volcano erupts in Hawaii
This image is from a research camera positioned on the northern rim of the caldera atop Mauna Loa volcano.
The world's largest active volcano, Mauna Loa, located in Hawaii, erupted for the first time in almost 40 years: spectacular, its fury does not threaten homes for the moment, but authorities and experts urge caution.
The eruption, which began at 11:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, according to the United States Institute of Geophysics (USGS), is carrying torrents of molten rock to the top of the volcano.
It also causes thick clouds of smoke high above the American island of Hawaii, the largest of this Pacific archipelago. The scrolls are thus visible for more than 70 kilometers around, according to the USGS.
Originally contained in the summit crater, lava is now flowing through fissures on Mauna Loa's flanks, and specialists are monitoring the situation closely.
No evacuations have been ordered by authorities, but the area near the summit and some roads on the island are closed as a precaution.
Mauna Loa's eruption migrated from the summit into the northeast rift area, where fissures are feeding multiple lava flows, the USGS explained on its website.
There is currently no risk for homes below the eruption area, according to the institute, which puts However, cautions against the volatility of this volcano, the largest in the world – it covers half the island of Hawaii and exceeds in area that of all the other islands in the combined; archipelago added.
“The early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can move quickly, and the location and advancement of lava flows can change rapidly. »
— American Institute of Geophysics
According to the institute, the winds could also carry volcanic gas and Pele hair, volcanic glass fibers, named after the Hawaiian goddess of fire, which form when droplets of lava stretch. at the end of the filaments under the effect of the gusts. Sharp as razor blades, they are dangerous for skin and eyes.
The US Weather Services (NWS) has warned that volcanic ash and debris may accumulate around the volcano. This can cause breathing difficulties in the inhabitants or disrupt the operation of engines or electronic systems.
Mauna Loa, or Long Mountain in Hawaiian, had not erupted since 1984. It then spewed lava for 22 days, producing lava flows that washed ashore just seven kilometers from the town of Mauna Loa. x27;Hilo, located northeast of the volcano.
“The fact that this is a dangerous mountain that hasn't erupted since 1984 – the longest eruptive pause in its history – is why we should all have an eye on it. »
— Robin George Andrews, volcanologist
According to him, the lava flows that escape through newly formed crevices on the northeast flank of the volcano represent a dangerous new dimension [of] the eruption. But unless there is a dramatic increase in their flow, the city of Hilo and its 44,000 people should be preserved.
Mauna Loa rises to 4169 meters and is one of six active volcanoes in the Hawaiian archipelago. It has erupted 33 times since 1843.
The main island of the archipelago is also home to a slightly taller volcano, Mauna Kea, which measures 4207 meters.
Just southeast of Mauna Loa, the Kilauea volcano is experiencing very sustained activity, with almost uninterrupted eruptions between 1983 and 2019. Its latest, minor, has been going on for several months.