For the first time in nearly four decades, the biggest active volcano on Earth is erupting. Lava flows from Mauna Loa, at the heart of Hawaii’s Big Island, could threaten some roadways, but otherwise authorities said there was no immediate danger to populated areas.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the eruption started around 11:30 p.m. local time in Mokuaweoweo, the summit caldera of Mauna Loa. It was visible from Kona, a popular tourist destination on the island’s west coast. Mauna Loa’s last eruption was in 1984.
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No evacuation orders had been issued by late Monday morning, but shelters were opened as a precaution, Hawaii County officials said. And authorities advised that winds could carry volcanic gas and fine ash downwind.
Thermal image of Mauna Loa eruption acquired at midnight HST.
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While the eruption was initially limited to the volcano’s summit, USGS said in a 7:20 a.m. update that lava had also begun flowing out of the northeast side of the volcano, in what scientists refer to as its northeast rift zone.