Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, has erupted for the first time in nearly 40 years, US authorities said, as emergency crews went on alert early Monday.
Lava flows remained “contained” within Mauna Loa’s summit caldera, but the eruption could pose a threat to nearby residents if conditions change, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported. English) at 11:45 pm local time on Sunday (9:45 pm). GMT Monday) about 15 minutes after the eruption inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
“At this time, the lava flows are contained within the summit area and do not threaten hillside communities,” the USGS said on its website, noting area residents should review preparation procedures.
While the eruption on the main island of the remote US state in the Pacific remains confined within the basin at the top of the volcano, called the caldera, “if eruptive vents migrate outside its walls, lava flows they can move rapidly downhill,” according to the USGS.
Hours later, on Monday morning, the USGS Volcano Monitoring Office tweeted: “Lava appears to have flowed out of the caldera, but for now the eruptive vents remain confined to the caldera.”
The agency said the Hawaii Volcano Observatory was in consultation with emergency management personnel and that its staff would conduct an aerial reconnaissance over the 13,674-foot (4,168-meter) volcano as soon as possible.
Hawaii authorities said no evacuation orders have been issued, though the summit area and several roads in the region were closed.
A USGS webcam on the northern edge of Mauna Loa’s summit showed long, bright eruptive fissures within the volcanic crater, contrasted against the darkness of night.
The Hawaiian Islands are home to six active volcanoes. Mauna Loa, the largest on Earth, has erupted 33 times since 1843, according to the USGS.
The most recent eruption, in 1984, lasted 22 days and produced lava flows that reached about four miles (7 kilometers) from Hilo, a city that is home to about 44,000 people today.
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