Hawaii volcanoes Mauna Loa and Kilauea stop erupting
By April Rubin
Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the world’s largest active volcano, which began erupting recently for the first time in nearly four decades to the delight of residents and tourists alike, has ceased doing so, scientists announced earlier this week.
Situated on the Big Island, Mauna Loa stopped erupting Saturday, the day after Kilauea, another volcano on the Big Island, stopped erupting, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Scientists were not sure whether the timing was coincidental. The two volcanoes share the same magma source.
“The volcanoes are not directly connected, but might ‘feel’ one another via stress effects,” the U.S. Geological Survey said on Twitter. “Mauna Loa’s eruption could have allowed Kilauea to ‘relax.’ That said, Kilauea’s eruption was already pretty tenuous, occurring at very low rates.”
Lava flow from Mauna Loa’s eruption, which began Nov. 27, posed little danger to the surrounding communities, stalling about 1.7 miles from Daniel K. Inouye Highway. As such, it became an attraction for both locals and visitors to the Big Island.
Raymond Naeyaert, who moved to the Big Island about a year ago, said in an interview Tuesday that the eruption was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He and his wife drove 60 miles to witness it closely on Nov. 28, the day after it began.
“It was really, truly one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen,” he said. “There was a presence about it that is kind of hard to put in words, but witnessing it with my wife, I was just kind of awe-struck.”
Not everyone had the same luck. David Dorn, who has lived on the island of Maui for 30 years, traveled to the Big Island to see the volcanic action. He and his wife were supposed to take a helicopter tour to see the top of Mauna Loa on Sunday, but they canceled when they got word that the eruption had stopped.
Next time, he said Tuesday, they will travel as soon as they learn about an eruption rather than wait.
“You have to respect nature,” he said. “Sometimes it reveals itself to you and sometimes it doesn’t. If it does, it’s a blessing.”
For many Native Hawaiians, who account for about 13% of the Big Island’s residents, Mauna Loa’s eruption represented a cycle of destruction and rebirth.
The volcano’s eruptions aren’t expected to resume soon, scientists said, but the lava may remain incandescent as it cools.
Kilauea could potentially start erupting again, scientists said. They warned that significant hazards remain in the area closed to the public because of crater wall instability, rockfalls and the potential for earthquakes.
Kilauea, smaller than Mauna Loa, erupted almost continuously from 1983 to 2018, when it set off the most destructive eruption of its recorded history. The eruption that just ceased began in September 2021, according to the Geological Survey.
Most of Mauna Loa’s eruptions occurred before 1950, according to scientists. The 38 years between the last eruption and this year’s was the longest quiet period on record.