U.S. Coast Guard Helps Monitor Mauna Loa's First Eruption in 38 Years
Mauna Loa, the world's largest volcano, is erupting for the first time in nearly four decades. Though it currently poses no threat to communities located downhill, it is attracting considerable attention, and the U.S. Coast Guard has been helping to keep an eye on it.
The eruption began in the volcano's summit caldera on Sunday morning at about 1130 hours, and it is centered on a rift zone on the northeastern slope. The flow is relatively small, but as a precautionary measure, the National Weather Service has issued an ashfall advisory for parts of Hawaii's Big Island. Two shelter locations have been opened up for residents if needed.
According to the Hawai'i Volcano Observatory, the fissures in the rift zone are two to three miles long and the lava fountains are under 200 feet in height.
"While it will be a big spectacular event, hopefully it will have relatively little impact on residents and visitors to the island,” observatory scientist-in-charge Ken Hon told local media.
The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency asked the Coast Guard to dispatch a C-130 for an aerial observation flight, along with experts from the U.S. Geological Survey and state and local officials, according to Lt. Eric Juback, District 14 command duty officer.
A C-130 Hercules aircrew from Air Station Barbers Point conducted a fly-over with Mayor Mitch Roth, Hawaii's Civil Defense Agency, the USGS and other officials to have a look at the lava flow. The aircrew used the plane's IR/optical camera to capture video of the eruption, below.