HomeOutdoorsNewsHawai’i Volcanoes National Park Experiences Some Closures as Mauna Loa Erupts

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Experiences Some Closures as Mauna Loa Erupts

by Craig Garrett
Aerial view of the crater of the Mauna Loa volcano on Big Island, Hawaii - stock photo

Although a new eruption on Mauna Loa volcano occurred late Sunday night, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park remains open. The eruption migrated from the mountain to the northeast rift zone Monday morning, the National Park Service reports.

The park closed Mauna Loa Road from the gate at Kīpukapuaulu to vehicles Monday morning for everyone’s safety. Mauna Loa has been closed off to the public since early October due to increasing seismic activity and unrest. This includes the summit, cabins, high-elevation areas, as well as Mauna Loa Observatory Road outside of the park boundaries.

The recent eruption from Mauna Loa is the first since the 1980s, and scientists expect it will attract many tourists to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. At sunrise, people in viewing areas around Kīlauea caldera could see a bright red glow emanating from Mauna Loa’s own caldera as well as Mokuʻāweoweo (13,677 ft.), which is an inactive lava lake inside Halemaʻumaʻu (4,009 ft.) at the summit of Kīlauea volcanoes. Footage of the ongoing eruption was shared on YouTube.

At present, neither eruption is impacting homes or infrastructure. Kīlauea volcano has been erupting since Sept. 29, 2021 and the lava activity is currently restricted to the summit lava lake only.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is keeping an eye on Mauna Loa

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Superintendent, Rhonda Loh elaborated on the situation. “Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is keeping close watch on Mauna Loa in tandem with our colleagues at USGS and Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense,” explained Loh. “The park is currently open, but visitors should be prepared and stay informed,” Loh said. 

The park urges all visitors to check the website for closure updates, safety alerts, and air quality reports. The website also includes links to the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webcams and eruption updates.

The Federal Aviation Administration has created a Temporary Flight Restriction that affects all flights five nautical miles around Mauna Loa summit and 5,000 above ground level. The only exception are emergency response flights that have been approved.

33 times the volcano had erupted since 1843, but it hadn’t blown its top in almost 37 years. Scientists had been closely monitoring the volcano for months, as it showed increased signs of seismic activity. Due to these dangerous conditions, the Mauna Loa summit, cabins and high-elevation areas have been closed off to the public for weeks.

Based on events that have already occurred, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can be very unpredictable. If the lava flow remains in Moku’āweoweo (the summit caldera), it will most likely stay within the walls confining it. However, if vents begin to form outside of these walls, the lava may make its way downslope rapidly. In 1950 when Mauna Loa erupted in its Southwest Rift Zone, three hours was all it took for lava to reach the ocean.