HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK – Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano is continuing to erupt, but scientists say the lava flows have been slowing down as they reach relatively flat areas around the rumbling mountain.
According to the United States Geological Survey, two active fissures have been feeding lava flows downslope, with lava from fissure 3 flowing to the north toward the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road).
Scientists say fissure 3 remains the dominant source of the largest lava flow, and the movement slowed during the day on Wednesday to about 0.02 mph or 78.7 feet per hour.
The flows have reached a relatively flat area and slowed down, and as that happens, scientists say the flow will spread out and inflate.
It may take about two days for the lava flows to reach the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, which was about 3.6 miles away as of Wednesday afternoon.
The USGS says fissure 4 is also still active, with lava flowing to the northeast.
In addition to the lava, the eruption of Mauna Loa is sending volcanic gas plumes high into the air, and Pele’s Hair is falling in the Humu’ula Saddle area.
Pele’s Hair refers to thin strands of volcanic glass fibers formed from gas amid explosions within the turbulent cauldron.
The USGS says tremors are continuing at a high rate, which indicates magma is still being supplied to the active fissures on Mauna Loa. Activity is likely to continue as long as those tremors persist.
Scientists say they don’t anticipate eruptive activity outside the Northeast Rift Zone, and no property is currently at risk.
Mauna Loa history
Since 1843, Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times, averaging an eruption every five years.
However, most eruptions before 1950 had an average frequency of 3.5 years. Since 1950, there have only been two eruptions – a summit eruption in 1975 and a rift eruption in 1984.
It had been the longest quiet period on record for Mauna Loa before Sunday night’s eruption.