World’s Biggest Volcano Just Erupted In The United States, See It Happening

Hawaii's Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano, has begun erupting lava and ash for the first time in decades.

By Jennifer Asencio | Published

Lava from an unidentified volcano

Hawaii is hot right now as the Mauna Loa volcano started erupting early Monday morning. Tell Me Best reports that the eruption began at Moku’āweoweo, which is the volcano’s summit caldera, and was formed during a prior eruption. The last time Mauna Loa erupted was in 1984.

Fortunately for residents of the island, the lava seems to be contained to Moku’āweoweo and is far away from inhabited areas. However, this could change and emergency personnel are on standby as history has shown that conditions during an eruption are dynamic and could become dangerous without much warning. Residents of the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions, who saw lava flows and massive property damage in their neighborhoods in 2018 during the lower Puna eruption elsewhere on the island, are living proof of how quickly an eruption can become a disaster for human habitation.

The island has experienced earthquakes in recent weeks, including around a dozen tremors on Sunday prior to the eruption. The earlier earthquakes may have disrupted magma chambers beneath the volcano, whose movement would have caused the tremors preceding the eruption. The United States Geological Survey issued a warning, their highest classification of the status of active volcanoes.

Another concern for the island is ashfall, as the volcano spews ash into the air. Residents are warned to stay indoors or wear protective masks if they venture out. The ash mixes with the air and can easily be breathed in while outdoors.

Residents of the western side of the island have taken to social media with pictures of the volcano as it erupts. An eerie orange glow takes over the sky in one photo. Another user points out that while the eruption is taking place on Mauna Loa, elsewhere on the island Mauna Kea is capped with snow.

The name “Mauna Loa” means “long mountain” in the Hawaiian language and the volcano is one of five on the “big island” from which the state gets its name. The volcanoes hold a spiritual significance to Hawaiian natives to this day and numerous trails were constructed to honor them, especially during eruptions. Mauna Loa and the Moku’āweoweo caldera are seen as the throne of the goddess Pele, who is seen as the matron of volcanoes.

Mauna Loa also has the distinction of being the largest active volcano in the world. Other volcanoes, such as the Tamu Massif off the coast of Japan, were believed to be the largest but studies have indicated that the honor goes to the home of Pele. Eruptions from the largest volcano in the world will certainly be felt globally.

When volcanoes erupt, the ash they spew into the air mixes with the atmosphere to mingle with water vapor. Historically this has been a herald of colder winters, and there has already been another volcanic eruption this year in Hunga Tonga, an island in the South Pacific. The Mauna Loa eruption could complicate what is already going to be a frigid season by adding more ash to the Hunga Tonga eruption.