Mighty Mauna Loa Awakens

Just the other day at 11:30 PM, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano erupted with fire and flames, spewing lava out of fissures in the caldera. As of today, Mauna Loa is the largest active volcano with a towering height of 13,679 feet and has been calm and collected for the past 38 years, last erupting in 1984 . Mauna Loa is located in the center of the large island of Hawaii, relatively far from major cities and towns. Unlike previous eruptions, the civilians haven’t been evacuated but given a thorough warning of the dangers which most residents have had experience with things like this, with the older residents having been alive when Mauna Loa erupted last in 1984. Some interesting things have happened recently though, earlier last night two smaller mountains started cascading lava down their slopes along with their neighbor.

 One of Loa’s lava flows has cut off the road and power to the Mauna Loa Observatory, which means they have lost power and the ability to maintain the climate measuring tool called “ Keeling Curve,” a device that has been recording daily atmospheric carbon dioxide numbers for the past 64 years, starting operations in 1958. “It’s a big deal. This is the central record of the present understanding of the climate problem,” says Ralph Keeling, a Geoscientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California in San Diego and son of the Keeling Curve creator. There has only been one other time that the Curve was interrupted, which was back during Mauna Loa’s 1984 eruption where scientists needed to bring a generator up to the observation post to keep the Keeling Curve powered and collect carbon data.

The eruption is also releasing momentous amounts of ash into the atmosphere and sky above Hawaii’s Island. All flights from a few airlines have been stopped because ash can gum up the engines, reduce visibility, and damage flight controls. Flying in these conditions can sometimes be a death wish because so many things can go wrong. The air quality also significantly dropped due to the ash, vog conditions*, and increased levels of sulfur dioxide will fluctuate all over the island and state. Because of this, sensitive groups of people, elderly, children, and people with weakened respiratory systems are advised to reduce outdoor activities and stay indoors with closed windows and doors to keep the ash and vog out.


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