Mauna Loa erupts after nearly 40 years of quiet: World in Photos


World in Photos: Mauna Loa erupts into a magnificent show after a four-decadelong rest

It hadn’t happened in nearly 40 years. Hawaii’s Mauna Loa may be one of the world’s most active volcanoes — according to the U.S. Geological Survey, there had been 33 eruptions recorded since 1843 — but recently it’s been in a kind of slumber. Sunday’s eruption was the first since 1984.

Mauna Loa is also the world’s largest active volcano, and so while an eruption is always a stunning thing to look at, the images in this World in Photos are particularly dramatic.

Of course, volcanoes are also dangerous. Reports from Hawaii and the USGS suggest that lava flows are moving toward the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, a main link between Hilo and Kona. It’s a slow-moving flow; the USGS said it might be several days before lava reaches the highway. But its scientists also warned that lava flows “can destroy everything in their path.” And on an island with few large roads, commerce and essential traffic could be severely impacted. On Thursday, Democratic Hawaii Gov. David Ige said he would call on the Hawaii National Guard to help if and when lava reached the highway.

As Grid’s Dave Levitan reported earlier this week, the eruption has also cut power lines to the Mauna Loa Observatory, which sits on one side of the volcano, and caused the shutdown of the world’s leading measurement site for global carbon dioxide levels. There are also concerns for air quality in the vicinity of the volcano.


As you see here, that hasn’t stopped some people from trekking as close as they can get with their cameras. Again, whatever one’s vantage point, it’s a stunning sight to see.

Lava bubbles and creates rivers that flow down the sides of Mauna Loa near Hilo.
Mauna Loa seen from the sky: Lava fissures flow in molten rivers down the north flank of the volcano.
Erupting Mauna Loa emits a moving wall of lava.
Rivers of lava flow away from the rising smoke of Mauna Loa.
As Mauna Loa erupts fro the first time since 1984, people watch the lava flow down the mountain like rivers.
A spectator watches lava flow from Mauna Loa in Hawaii from a safe distance, from the side of the road.
Molten lava bubbles and flows from Mauna Loa in November 2022.
In Hawaii, Mauna Loa's fire and steam create gorgeous but scary looking red clouds.
People line up from a safe distance to watch Mauna Loa as the Hawaiian volcano erupts for the first time since 1984.
People watch Mauna Loa erupt at night.

  • Tom Nagorski
    Tom Nagorski

    Global Editor

    Tom Nagorski is the global editor at Grid, where he oversees our coverage of global security, U.S.-China relations, migration trends, global economics and U.S. foreign policy.

  • Jake Garcia
    Jake Garcia

    Associate Producer, Multimedia

    Jake Garcia is a documentary filmmaker and multimedia producer for Grid.