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.