Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano erupts for 1st time in 40 years
The United States Geological Survey reports that lava flows are contained within the summit area and are not threatening downslope communities, noting that the area's residents have to review preparedness procedures.
For the first time in about 40 years, the largest active volcano on Earth, Hawaii's Mauna Loa, has erupted, US authorities said, as emergency crews went on alert early Monday.
Flows of lava remained "contained" within the summit caldera of Mauna Loa, but if conditions change, the eruption could pose a threat to nearby residents, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) stated at 11:45 pm local time on Sunday (9:45 GMT Monday) some 15 minutes after the eruption inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
"At this time, lava flows are contained within the summit area and are not threatening downslope communities," the USGS wrote on its website, noting that the area's residents have to review preparedness procedures.
While the eruption on the remote US state's main island in the Pacific remains confined within the basin at the volcano's top, called the caldera, "if the eruptive vents migrate outside its walls, lava flows may move rapidly downslope," according to the USGS.
"Lava does seem to have flowed outside the caldera, but for now the eruptive vents remain confined to the caldera," the USGS volcano monitoring office tweeted hours later on Monday morning.
The agency said that the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory was consulting with emergency management personnel, and its staff would conduct an aerial reconnaissance over the 13,674-foot (4,168-meter) volcano as soon as possible.
No orders to evacuate have been given, although the summit area and many roads in the area were closed, the Hawaii authorities said.
Long bright eruptive fissures within the volcanic crater, contrasted against the dark of night were seen by a USGS webcam on Mauna Loa summit's north rim.
The Hawaiian islands are home to six active volcanoes. Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843, according to USGS.
The most recent eruption took place in 1984 and lasted for 22 days, producing lava flows which reached to within about seven kilometers (four miles) of Hilo, a city which is home to about 44,000 people today.
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