Scientists declare that 2 volcanoes in Hawaii have stopped erupting

HONOLULU (AP) — U.S. scientists said Tuesday that two active volcanoes in Hawaii — one where lava destroyed hundreds of homes in 2018 and another where lava recently stalled before reaching a critical Big Island highway — have stopped erupting.

“Kilauea is no longer erupting,” the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a statement Tuesday, followed by a separate statement: “Mauna Loa is no longer erupting.”

Warning levels for both volcanoes were lowered from waiting to advisory.

Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano, began spewing molten rock on Nov. 27 after lying dormant for 38 years, drawing onlookers to take in the glowing spectacle and early on causing nerves among people experiencing destructive eruptions. have been through.

It was Mauna Loa’s longest dormancy, said Ken Hon, the observatory’s lead scientist.

Lava watchers at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park enjoyed the extra rare wonder of being able to see Mauna Loa’s smaller neighbor, Kilauea, erupt at the same time.

Kilauea had been erupting since September 2021. An eruption of Kilauea in 2018 destroyed more than 700 homes.

Mauna Loa lava posed no threat to communities, but came within 1.7 miles of a major highway connecting the east and west sides of the island.

Hon called the two-week spectacle, which is a typical time span for Mauna Loa, “my favorite eruption.”

“It was a beautiful eruption, and a lot of people saw it, and it didn’t cost major infrastructure and, most importantly, it didn’t impact anyone’s life,” he said at a briefing Tuesday.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Talmadge Magno said a one-way route opened to allow the movement of crowds watching the lava would close Thursday.

Magno and other county officials had warned that slow-moving lava could force the closure of Saddle Road, also known as Route 200 or Daniel K. Inouye Highway. That prompted motorists to brace for unrest from a closure that could add hours to travel times on alternative coastal routes.

“Whatever it is — luck, coincidence — this is probably the best situation we can ask of Mauna Loa,” Magno said.

For Native Hawaiians, volcanic eruptions have deep cultural and spiritual significance. During the Mauna Loa eruption, many Hawaiians participated in cultural traditions, such as singing, singing, and dancing in honor of Pele, the deity of volcanoes and fire, and leaving offerings known as “hookupu.”

Lava flow to a Mauna Loa fissure stopped Saturday, the observatory said, and volcanic tremors and earthquakes associated with the eruption “greatly reduced.”

“Plots of incandescence can persist for days or weeks near the vent, along channels, and at the flow front as the lava flows cool,” the observatory’s activity chart said. “However, eruptive activity is not expected to recur based on past eruptive behavior.”

Lava flow to Kilauea’s Halema’uma’u lava lake stopped on Friday, the observatory said: “There is still a possibility for this eruption to resume or the start of another eruption at or near Kilauea’s summit.”

The observatory will continue to monitor the volcanoes for signs of renewed activity.

Despite the final statements, Hon said there is generally a three-month “cooling off” period before scientists consider the eruption over.

But there has been no history of a Mauna Loa rift eruption pausing and starting again, he said: “So we’re pretty confident that this eruption has actually paused and is probably over.”

It was unclear what connection there might be with the volcanoes that stopped erupting around the same time. The volcanoes can both be seen at the same time from multiple spots in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park near Kilauea’s caldera.

“So, Kilauea may already be declining and the Mauna Loa eruption may have caused enough physical changes to stop it, or it may be just on its way to stopping on its own,” Hon said. “So we don’t really have a good answer to that right now.”

Scientists will review data to study the relationship between the two volcanoes, he said.

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