Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, was seen spewing hot lava nearly 200 feet into the air on Monday, just one day after it began erupting late Sunday night and prompted warnings from officials to residents who live nearby.
The eruption on Sunday marks the first time the volcano has gone off in 38 years, with officials warning residents to prepare in case the lava begins spilling toward nearby towns. Although there is no risk to any neighborhoods or property as of Tuesday morning, officials have noted the situation is “very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.”
The eruption has also spewed volcanic gas and ash into the air, prompting health officials to urge residents to avoid outdoor exercise or activities that require heavy breathing.
The eruption comes after the active volcano was put into a “state of heightened unrest” due to a magnitude 5.0 earthquake that hit in mid-October. Although the volcano did not erupt in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, it’s unclear whether that incident contributed to the eruption on Sunday.
Officials will continue monitoring the eruption and provide updates as things develop, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843, with its last eruption being recorded in 1984. During that incident, lava flow from the volcano came within 4.5 miles of the island’s largest town, Hilo, Hawaii, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will coordinate with other emergency management partners to monitor the volcanic activity, it said in the emergency alert. Officials also confirmed they would conduct an overflight to assess future hazards.