Hawaii’s Mauna Loa erupting near a key highway

By Brock Fortman

Live view of the eruption via Reuters.

Mauna Loa is one of the five volcanoes that make up the big island of Hawaii. On November 27, the initial eruption occurred alerting scientists to keep a close eye on the rift zone of the volcano. A rift zone is where the mountain is splitting apart. The rock is cracked and relatively weak and it is easier for magma to emerge, according to The Associated Press.

Mauna Loa, which is now the world’s largest active volcano, is persistently oozing lava at a slow rate near one of the main highways of Hawaii. Daniel K. Inouye Highway connects two sides of the Big Island and is a key highway.

“There are many variables at play and both the direction and timing of flow advances are expected to change over periods of hours to days, making it difficult to estimate when or if the flow will impact Daniel K. Inouye Highway,” Mike Zoeller of the US Geological Survey said.

As of Wednesday, the lava flow is about 1.8mi (2.9km) and is progressing at an average rate slower than 20 feet (6 meters) per hour during the 24-hour period prior to this morning. The US Geological Survey had the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory set up a new webcam to view the main flow.

Kilauea, another volcano on the Big Island, has been erupting since last year. The combination of these two volcanic eruptions has gathered quite a crowd, with tourists and local residents flocking to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Monday, Governor David Ige and Maj. General Kenneth Hara activated 20 National Guard members to assist Hawai’i County with traffic control and other duties concerning the Mauna Loa eruption.

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