The Mauna Loa Volcanic eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii has paused for now; while USGS says the end could be in sight for the 2022 eruption, there is still plenty of activity they’re monitoring at the world’s largest volcano.
Officially the USGS and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) says that the Northeast Rift Zone eruption of Mauna Loa may still be active. Incandescence is restricted to the cone that formed around the fissure 3 vent, there was no observable activity anywhere on the rest of the flow field overnight.
In a press briefing hosted by USGS today, Dr. Ken Hon, Scientist-in-Charge of HVO, told reporters there’s still some slight activity at Fissure #3, a fissure that shot fountains of lava up into the air more than 500 feet just days ago. Hon said that eruptive activity has stopped, but there’s still a little bit of incandescence but no lava movement in the fissure 3 vent.
The inactive main flow front has stagnated about 1.7 mi from the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) when last measured yesterday morning, December 10. The inactive main flow front still glows at a few spots at night and may inch northward very slowly as it continues to settle. Earlier in the eruption there were fears that the lava would cover this critical east-west highway which connects the Hilo side of the Big Island to the Kona side. At this time, according to both USGS and Hawaii County Civil Defense, there is no threat to the highway for now.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates continue to be reduced; on December 9, the emission rate was approximately 20,000 tonnes per day (t/d), roughly 10% of what was emitted in the early days of this 2022 eruption which started less than 2 weeks ago.
USGS says tremor, a signal associated with subsurface fluid movement, is no longer detectable. This means magma isn’t currently being supplied to the last active fissure area.
However, USGS says that summit and Northeast Rift Zone inflation which started on December 7 is continuing today. The significance of the continuing inflation while the flow field is inactive is not yet clear; it is common for eruptions to wax and wane or pause completely, but none of the eight recorded eruptions from Mauna Loa’s Northeast Rift Zone returned to high eruption rates after those rates decreased significantly. Nevertheless, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continues to closely monitor the current activity and warns that while this eruption has paused, it may not be completely over.
Incredible nighttime lava show from the same viewpoint we shared during the daylight hours earlier today. #MaunaLoa, the world’s largest active volcano continues to erupt here on the Big Island of #Hawaii . #HIwx pic.twitter.com/dAbErFPa4R
— the Weatherboy (@theWeatherboy) December 8, 2022
View this post on Instagram