Guide to Mauna Loa Volcano Eruption In Hawaii
Update December 13 1:25 PM HST: Volcano alert level reduced from Warning to Watch. Activity has returned to pre-eruption levels. That’s all folks!
Looking to keep up-to-date on the latest happenings of the Mauna Loa Hawaii Volcano eruption? This guide has all of the resources you need to stay on top of the latest updates.
In This Guide
Currently there are 2 spots or “sites” on Mauna Loa volcano where the eruption has recently occurred. The impact map shows the latest location of the lava flow. The lava is flowing north towards the low lying saddle area between Mauna Loa And Mauna Kea.
Based on past eruptions it is likely this one will last one to two weeks.
Mauna Loa Caldera – Inactive
Northeast Rift Zone – Inactive
Mauna Loa Summit Caldera
There is currently no active lava at the summit caldera.
All Mauna Loa Eruptions begin at the summit in the caldera and this one is no different.
The Mona Loa Hawaii volcano eruption began Sunday November 27th at 11:30 PM on the summit of Mauna Loa in the caldera. The activity is captured via webcam perched on the edge of the caldera. The caldera is essentially a massive crater at the very top of the volcano which is the world’s largest.
While it can sometimes be difficult to see lava in broad daylight thermal cameras like this one on the caldera rim make it easier to spot the lava with a thermal range of 0 (black) to 500 (white) degrees Celsius. That’s 932 degrees Fahrenheit.
Northeast Rift Zone
There is currently no activity at the rift zone.
Click here to see a video of the fissure opening up and lava flowing
Located east of the summit this is where the 1984 eruption of Mauna Loa occurred. It has since become active again and lava is heading down the north flank of Mauna Loa towards the saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. At times the lava has been seen fountaining between 100 – 200 feet in the air. The progress of the lava here remains around 7,000 ft elevation and about 2 miles from the saddle road. It is ever so slowly moving towards saddle road. Find out more about viewing the lava.
Hawaii County Hazard update – The latest news from the county on what to do.
Hawaii Tourism Authority – Travel Updates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I see the lava?
As of now there are helicopter tours going from Kona and Hilo to see the lava. Weather permitting you could also potentially see it from the saddle road (Daniel K. Inouye Hwy) which connects Kona and Hilo. If you’re in the Kona area you may be able to see a faint glow at night. You can check the impact map for the latest location of the lava. This is one of the best times to witness a Hawaii volcano eruption in action.
Parking can be challenging. We were able to get a good view of the lava and avoid the road closure by driving a bit up Mauna Kea Access Road and parking on the side,
When did Mauna Loa Last Eruption occur?
Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984 sending lava down the south east and north eastern flank towards Hilo. The lava stopped within 5 miles of the city. This was due to the shallow slope of the mountain combined with dense vegetation, low temperature of the lava, and the decrease in the rate of eruption. Click here to learn more from USGS.
What Volcano Just Erupted in Hawaii?
Mauna Loa Volcano erupted at 11:30 PM on Sunday November 27th 2022. For the latest updates check out Volcano Updates from the federal Government.
When was the last time the volcano in Hawaii erupted?
Kilauea Volcano (Volcano National Park) has been erupting since September 2021 and Mauna Loa has been erupting since November 2022.
Are there 2 volcanoes in Hawaii?
There are currently 4 volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii that are active, 1 that is dormant, and one that is extinct. Listed from oldest to newest.
- Kohala – Extinct
- Mauna Kea – Dormant
- Hualalai – Active (Last eruption 1801)
- Mauna Loa – Active (Erupting since November 2022)
- Kilauea – Active (Erupting since September 2021)
- Loihi – Active Underwater
What do I need to do to be prepared for evacuation?
At this time there is no need for evacuation. For up-to-date information regarding hawaii volcano eruption alerts visit the Hawaii County Civil Defense Page. Check out the impact map showing the latest location of the lava. Should lava continue to flow for the next several days or weeks here is a map of the inundation zones where the lava could end up.
How long could the Mauna Loa Lava flow last?
Based on past eruptions on Mauna Loa it’s likely that this eruption could last one to two weeks according to the head scientist Ken Hon of Hawaii Volcanoes observatory.
There is currently no lava flowing on Mauna Loa.
One of the most special facts about Big Island is that visitors and residents can simply drive and step out of their car to see new earth being formed right in front of them. There are very few places on the planet that allow you to do this safely. It is possible to see it from air and that allows you to get closer and have a better vantage point. There is currently a flight restriction in place of 1500ft above ground level.
Hawaii is one of the few places on the planet that literally grows rocks! The big island of Hawaii is a hot spot in the middle of the pacific techtonic plate. This means that as the plate moves the lava comes out in a line over time. This is how the Hawaiian islands formed. As of today the lava is coming out of the pacific plate near the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. This means there’s more activity there with a new volcanic island being formed under the ocean called Loihi and some recent activity in Kilauea and Mauna Loa with the more western side of the island being dormant.
Pictures from the side of the saddle road from a cell phone on the night of Tuesday November 30th.
If you want to see lava up close and personal it’s a pretty amazing site. Not only is it extremely hot but the glow can be intense at night. During the day it’s difficult to see the glow and combined with the intense sun it can become an unpleasant endeavor to approach the lava.
- Check with the latest updates
- Plan your approach
- Be Prepared
- Just go
Check the Latest Updates
To see the latest info about the lava you can check with the USGS Volcanos website. Currently the only active site with lava is Kilauea. Should Mauna Loa begin erupting again you’re going to want to check out Hawaii Volcanoes USGS Mauna Loa Updates site.
Plan your approach
Use maps to locate where to go and how to get out should the flow change. Having GPS is important for this especially at night. Check for parking warnings and speed reduction for the areas nearest the flow.
If getting close enough requires hiking bring plenty of water, lights, and sturdy shoes, pants and jacket. Extra food is good if you’ll be hiking for more than a few miles. The lava can look deceivingly close at night.
It’s important to ensure you’re prepared for the unknown. The lava flow can change and so you must be ready to adapt or scrap your plans. Weather, location, and time of day can all play a part in how the situation changes. If the wind direction changes it can blow SO2 (sulphur dioxide) you direction. It’s a poisonous gas that can harm or even kill you.
At this point it is just a seamount or underwater mountain at a depth of approximately 1000 meters (3000 feet) below the surface of the ocean and 3000 meters (9000 feet) tall above the seafloor. Loihi is the newest of the Hawaiian volcanos and will someday form a new Island next to the Big Island when it finally reaches the surface of the ocean.