Scientists say eruption of Mauna Loa volcano continues to ease

  • Just days, ago, lava was full in the channels from the fissure 3 eruption on Mauna Loa’s Northeast Rift Zone. Over the past two days, the eruption output has greatly reduced, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported Saturday. A pond of lava in the fissure 3 cone feeds short lava flows that extended only 1.6 miles from the vent. The channels below this point appear drained of lava and no longer feed the main flow front. (USGS image by K. Mulliken/Special to West Hawaii Today)

HONOLULU — The eruption of the Mauna Loa volcano continues to ease, scientists said Sunday, reinforcing an earlier pronouncement that the mountain’s first flare-up in nearly 40 years might soon end.

“We have good news to report,” Ken Hon, the scientist in charge of the U.S. Geological Survey at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, said during a briefing Sunday. “The eruption is still at an extremely low level at this point.”


Hon said the eruption is contained entirely within the volcano’s cinder cone. The USGS said a small amount of light remained visible at night through a vent in the cone, but the channels below that vent “appear drained of lava.”

The inactive front of the lava flow may inch northward very slowly as it continues to settle, the agency said. It remained about 1.7 miles from Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road, as of last measurement on Saturday.

Hon said Mauna Loa’s eruption appears to be ramping down and that nearby Kilauea has now reached a “full pause,” with its lava lake stagnant and crusted over.

“The inactive main flow front still glows at a few spots at night and may inch northward very slowly as it continues to settle,” the observatory’s update read.

Mauna Loa began spewing molten rock Nov. 27 after being quiet for 38 years. The incandescent spectacle drew onlookers and set some nerves on edge among people who’ve lived through past eruptions.

Sunday’s update came a day after scientists lowered the alert level for the volcano from a warning to a watch and said the eruption could be in its final days.

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