World’s Largest Active Volcano Erupts for the First Time in 38 Years


Etna Volcano Paroxysmal Eruption Jan 12 2011 - Creative Commons by gnuckx/gnuckx/flickr/CC0 1.0

This Is a severe volcanic eruption taking place. It is similar to the Mauna Loa volcanic eruption.

Tally Meer, Staff Writer

The world’s largest active volcano is Mauna Loa, located on the island of Hawaii, and it’s been very quiet for almost four decades. But on Nov. 28, 2022, the natural wonder erupted for the very first time since 1984 at approximately 11:30 p.m. local time. This eruption is the volcano’s 34th on written record, which began in 1843.

The volcano had been showing signs of unrest since Sept. 2022. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Federal Agency which monitors these natural phenomena, experts have suspected that the volcano would erupt soon, so they had recently updated the alert level to “warning.”  

Moana Loa is located on the largest island of the state of Hawaii and is visible from a popular area for tourists, Kona. The volcano has a height of over 4,169 meters. This is no surprise since Moana Loa means “long mountain” in the Hawaiian language.  

The bright lava of the volcano illuminated the night sky on Nov. 28, and enough lava was flowing throughout the big island that it could potentially threaten roadways. Lava slowly tumbled down the volcano’s slope and was measured only about 6 miles from a highway known as Saddle Road. Saddle Road bisects the island and connects two cities on the island known as Hilo and Kona. Since they are popular tourist destinations and very populated areas, the volcano added several extra hours of drive time for travelers as some roads became impassable. 

Nobody on the island was required to evacuate, but there were two shelters opened. Lava did begin flowing out of the northeast rift zone. The Hawaii Department of Health is alerting the citizens and visitors of Hawaii that there will be a change in the air quality. The air will potentially be filled with ash and levels of sulfur dioxide. 

Those with sensitive health including the elderly, children, and people with health conditions are being strongly encouraged to either limit their time outside to very little or none at all. This toxic air quality can damage not only those with sensitive health, but anyone that takes the risk of going outside. 

The air from this eruption is also causing aviation flights to be canceled due to the ash clouds impeding visibility. Southwest Airlines stopped operations from Hilo International (an airport in Hawaii) on Monday because of the eruption. Additionally, five flights have also been canceled by Southwest airlines from Honolulu because of the eruption as well.  

An additional hazard that the eruption will most likely cause is earthquakes. The earthquakes will be caused by horizontal and vertical movements of the volcano’s flanks as it continues to inflate. Severe ground motion will also possibly occur. And since Mauna Loa is an active volcano, it can and will erupt again.