Mauna Loa Is Erupting

Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano located in Hawaii has erupted. The volcano in Hawaii means ‘Long Mountain’ is erupting for the first time in nearly 38 years. It is larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined and occupies half of the Big Island. Since the beginning of written history in 1843, there have been 34 eruptions, according to the USGS.

It creates open fissures and spews magma fountains that drape and drip down the mountain’s rocky sides. Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and fire, is said to live atop its lava lake summit, now one of the world’s most active volcano. According to tourist mythology and unofficial lore, the goddess will unfurl a curse on those who dare remove rock or lava from her sooty domain.

Mauna Loa started erupting around 11:30 p.m. local time Sunday on November 21, 2022 — the first time in 38 years. The eruption did not immediately endanger communities below, but the U.S. Geological Survey warned the roughly 200,000 people on the Big Island that it “can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.”

“At this time, lava flows are contained within the summit area and are not threatening downslope communities,” it said. “Winds may carry volcanic gas and possibly fine ash and Pele’s hair downwind.” The phenomenon known as Pele’s hair is named after Pelehonuamea, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and fire, who reputedly has the power to create through destruction.

“Her presence can be felt by those who visit her volcanic domain and lives within the hearts and minds of those who experience her power. The presence of Pelehonuamea is not necessarily approached with fear, but with respect,” according to the National Park Service.

The spewing lava did not threaten homes, U.S. government officials said — but there could be a risk as lava bubbles explode, sending delicate, golden strands of molten lava resembling human hair blowing downwind. Since they’re so light, the strands can become airborne and float on the wind, according to the Park Service. They cluster in low-lying areas to make dense mats that can become several inches deep. While they look like hair, officials warned that they are, in fact, glass.

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