The US Geological Survey (USGS) raised its alert level after an eruption began at Moku‘āweoweo, the summit caldera of Mauna Loa on Sunday night. It upgraded its alert level to “warning” from an “advisory” and the color code was “red.” 

“At this time, lava flows are contained within the summit area and are not threatening downslope communities,” the USGS volcanic summary said. 

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The Mauna Loa lava’s potentially-impacted residents were advised to ensure their preparedness and reach Hawaii County Civil Defense for further guidance.

In the last two hours, over a dozen earthquakes of more than 2.5 magnitudes were triggered in the region, according to the USGS. One of them measured 4.2 in magnitude. There had been a recent spike in earthquakes at the summit of the volcano. 

The warning also said that the early stages of eruption at Mauna Loa can be dynamic, based on past events. The location and direction of lava flow also change swiftly.

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The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), being in touch with emergency management partners will closely monitor the volcano, providing further updates on the activities. It would conduct aerial reconnaissance to closely monitor and describe the eruption.

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Mauna Loa is the world’s largest active volcano, located on the south-central part of Hawaii island, Hawaii state, United States. It is also a part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Mauna Loa rises to 13,677 feet (4,169 meters) above the Pacific Ocean, consequently tales over half of the island’s area.

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Mauna Loa, frequently snowcapped in winters, is a shield volcano that has erupted multiple times since its first well-documented eruption in 1843. The majority of its eruptions are confined within Moku‘āweoweo, while others are lower flank eruptions along northeast or southwest fissure zones.

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The last eruption of Mauna Loa occurred in March-April of 1984, before its longest period of dormancy in recorded history. This eruption descended to the doorstep of Hilo, the population center of Hawaii. Other substantial eruptions occurred in 1935, 1942, 1950, and 1975. During eruptions in 1935 and 1942, US military planes bombed the area attempting to divert the flow of lava, preventing the threat to Hilo city. The attempts were partially successful.