U.S. scientists announced on Tuesday that two active Hawaii volcanoes have ceased erupting. Lava from one of the volcanoes destroyed hundreds of homes in 2018 while lava from the other halted just short of a crucial Big Island highway.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory of the United States Geological Survey issued a statement Tuesday saying, “Kilauea is no longer erupting,” and another saying, “Mauna Loa is no longer erupting.”Both volcanoes’ alert levels were lowered from “watch” to “advisory.”
After being dormant for 38 years, the world’s largest volcano, Mauna Loa, resumed its molten rock spewing on November 27. The incandescent spectacle has attracted visitors from all over the world, but the eruption has also caused some concern among those who have experienced destructive volcanic activity in the past.
Mauna Loa had its longest rest in recorded history, according to observatory director and scientist Ken Hon. Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park were treated to a double wow when they saw both Mauna Loa and Kilauea erupting at the same time.
By September 2021, Kilauea had already been continuously erupting. During the 2018 eruption, more than 700 homes were lost.
Lava from Mauna Loa didn’t threaten any settlements, but it did come within 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) of a major highway that runs across the island’s middle. The event lasted for two weeks, which is about average for Mauna Loa, and Hon dubbed it “my favorite eruption.”
At a press conference on Tuesday, he said, “It was a beautiful eruption, and lots of people got to see it, and it didn’t take out any major infrastructure and, most importantly, it didn’t affect anybody’s life.”
According to Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Talmadge Magno, a one-way route opened to manage traffic from crowds of people watching the lava will be shut down on Thursday.
Saddle Road (also known as Route 200 or Daniel K. Inouye Highway) had been threatened with closure by Magno and other county officials due to slow-moving lava. Consequently, drivers have been preparing for disruption due to a closure that could make their commutes along alternative coastal routes significantly longer.
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If we could have asked for anything better from Mauna Loa, this would be it, Magno said.
Volcanic eruptions hold significant cultural and spiritual meaning for Native Hawaiians. Many Hawaiians participated in cultural traditions during the Mauna Loa eruption, such as leaving offerings called “hookup” and singing, chanting, and dancing in honor of Pele, the deity of volcanoes and fire.
A fissure on Mauna Loa has stopped receiving lava as of Saturday, according to the observatory, and associated volcanic tremors and earthquakes have “greatly diminished.”
According to the observatory’s activity summary, “spots of incandescence may remain near the vent, along channels, and at the flow front for days or weeks as the lava flows cool.” But past eruption behavior suggests that we shouldn’t expect any more explosive activity anytime soon.
“Potential remains for resumption of this eruption or initiation of a new eruption at or near the summit of Kilauea,” the observatory said on Friday after lava supply to Kilauea’s Halema’uma’u lava lake ceased.
The volcanoes will remain under the observatory’s watchful eye for any signs of renewed activity.
Despite these unwavering assertions, Hon said that scientists typically wait three months for the volcano to “cool off” before declaring an eruption over.
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The activity summary from the observatory noted that even after the lava flows have cooled, there may be bright spots near the vent, along channels, and at the flow front. Recent history of eruptions, however, indicates that no further eruptions are imminent.
The observatory reported on Friday that the lava flow to Kilauea’s Halema’uma’u lava lake had stopped, but that the possibility of a new eruption at or near the volcano’s summit still existed.
The volcanoes will remain under the observatory’s watchful eye as they look for signs of renewed activity.
Hon stated that regardless of the absolute statements, scientists typically wait three months for the eruption to cool down before declaring it over.
In contrast, he noted, there is no record of a pause followed by a resumption of activity at the Mauna Loa rift, leading scientists to conclude that the current eruption is likely to be complete.
How the volcanoes’ eruptions could have suddenly ceased at the same time was a mystery. In multiple locations throughout Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, close to Kilauea’s caldera, you can see both volcanoes simultaneously.
Hon speculated that Kilauea was already on the decline before the Mauna Loa eruption caused enough physical changes to halt it. So, there isn’t a great solution to that problem that we can think of right now.
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The Volcanoes Will Remain Under The Observatory’s Watchful Eye For Any Signs Of Renewed Activity
Despite the absolute claims, Hon said the “cooling off” period typically lasts for three months before scientists can declare an eruption over.
In contrast, “so we feel pretty confident that this eruption has, in fact, paused and is probably over,” he said, “because there is no history of a Mauna Loa rift eruption pausing and restarting.”
There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for the volcano’s sudden silence. Multiple locations within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park allow for simultaneous views of the two volcanoes, particularly those closer to Kilauea’s caldera.
According to Hon, “Kilauea may have been diminishing already and the Mauna Loa eruption may have caused sufficient physical changes to stop it,” or the volcano may have naturally ceased its activity. Accordingly, “we don’t have a really good answer for that right now.”
He added that data will be analyzed by scientists to determine the nature of the connection between the two volcanoes.
All of the islands in the Pacific are composed of volcanoes that erupted deep below the surface of the water before finally rising to the surface. At the moment, six volcanoes in Hawaii are erupting.