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Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa
Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa Long Mountain is one of the five volcanoes that make up the island of Hawaii in the United States. Pacific Ocean. The largest subduction volcano in both mass and volume (as opposed to a subduction volcano), Mauna Loa is historically considered the largest volcano on Earth, dwarfed only by the Tamu Massif. It is an active shield volcano with relatively gentle slopes, with a volume of 18,000 cubic miles (75,000 km3), although its summit is about 125 feet (38 m) lower than that of its neighbor, Mona Kea. Lava eruptions from Mauna Loa are silica poor and very fluid and non-explosive.

Mona Lava has probably been erupting for at least 700,000 years and may have risen above sea level about 400,000 years ago. The oldest dated rocks are no more than 200,000 years old. Volcanic magma comes from the Hawaiian hotspot, which has been responsible for the creation of the Hawaiian island chain for tens of millions of years. The slow drift of the Pacific plate will eventually move Mauna Loa away from the hotspot within 500,000 to 1 million years from now, at which point it will disappear.

The most recent eruption of Mona Lava is currently ongoing and started on November 27, 2022. Recent eruptions of the volcano have not caused casualties, but eruptions in 1926 and 1950 destroyed villages, and the town of Hilo is partly built on lava flows from the late 19th century.

Because of the potential threats to population centers, Mouna Loa is part of the Decade Volcano Program, which encourages the study of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. Mauna Loa has been closely monitored by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory since 1912. Atmospheric observations are made at the Mauna Loa Observatory and solar observations are made at the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory, both located near the summit of the mountain. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park covers the summits and portions of the southeast and southwest flanks of the volcano and also includes Kīlauea, a separate volcano.


1. Setting

Landsat Mosaic; Recent lava flows are shown in black.

Like all Hawaiian volcanoes, Mauna Loa was created when the Pacific tectonic plate moved from above the Hawaiian hotspot into the Earth’s lower mantle. The volcanoes on the island of Hawaii are the latest evidence of this process. have created the 3,700-mile (6,000 km) long Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount chain over 70 million years. The prevailing theory suggests that the hotspot has remained largely stationary within the planet’s mantle if Not all are of Cenozoic age. However, while the Hawaiian mantle plume is well understood and widely studied, the nature of the hotspot itself remains largely enigmatic.

Mauna Loa is one of five hydrothermal vent volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands. The island’s oldest volcano, Kohala, is over a million years old,  and the youngest, Kīlauea, is 210,000 years old. and 280,000 years. Kamahuakanalua (formerly Lōʻihi) on the island’s edge is even younger but has yet to break the surface of the Pacific Ocean. 1 million to 600,000 years. At 17 years old,  Mauna Loa is the second youngest of the five volcanoes on the island, making it the third youngest volcano in Hawaii – after Emperor Seamount Chain, Shield Volcano, and Hawaii. A chain of seamounts extending from the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench in Russia.

2. Structure

Mauna Loa is the world’s largest hydrothermal vent and second largest total volcano (behind the Tumo Massif), covering a land area of ​​5,271 km2 (2,035 sq mi), and its maximum width is 120 km (75 mi). Containing approximately 65,000 to 80,000 km3 (15,600 to 19,200 cu mi) of solid rock,  it comprises more than half of the surface area of ​​the island of Hawaii. 

Combining the volcano’s extensive submarine rim (5,000 m (16,400 ft) to the sea floor) and 4,170 m (13,680 ft) land elevation, Mauna Loa rises 9,170 m (30,085 ft) from base to summit. The height of Mount Everest from sea level to its summit is 8,848 meters or 29,029 feet. Furthermore, much of the mountain is also underwater: its mass compresses the crust beneath it for another 8 km (5 mi), forming an inverted mountain,  i.e. Mona Lava from the beginning. The total height of Its eruption date is about 17,170 meters (56,000 ft).

The ice-covered Moku’aweweo caldera in 2016

Mauna Loa is a typical shield volcano in shape, forming an elongated dome that extends down to the sea floor with slopes of about 12°, a result of its highly fluid lava. The shield-stage lavas that built the large mass of the mountain are tholeiitic basalts, such as Mauna Kea, produced by the mixing of primary magma and compression of the oceanic crust. Three overlapping craters at the summit of Mauna Loa. 

The craters are aligned northeast-southwest, the first and last about 1 km (0.6 mi) in diameter and the second a 4.2 km × 2.5 km (2.6 mi × 1.6 mi) feature; Together, these three craters comprise the 6.2 by 2.5 km (3.9 by 1.6 mi) summit caldera Mokowawiu, which is named after the Hawaiian fish (Priacanthus meeki), reportedly for its color. It is because of its resemblance to fire. Fish Mokuʻāweoweo’s caldera floor is between 170 and 50 meters (558 and 164 ft) below its rim and is only the latest of several calderas that have formed over the life of the volcano. It was formed between 1,000 and 1,500 years ago by a large eruption from Mauna Loa’s northeast rift zone, which emptied a shallow magma chamber beneath the summit and collapsed it into its current shape. Additionally, southwest of the caldera lies two smaller craters, named Loa Ho (New Crater) and Loa Hoono (Deep Crater).

Mauna Loa
Mauna Loa

Exploding history

1. Prehistoric Eruption

A cinder cone on Mona Lava flows around.

To have reached its enormous size within its relatively short (geologically speaking) lifetime of 600,000 to 1,000,000 years, Mauna Loa logically follows its development history,  and extensive charcoal-based radiocarbon dating (probably Earth But the most extensive such prehistoric eruption dating has collected a current flow record of nearly two hundred reliable dates, confirming this hypothesis.

The oldest exposed flows on Mauna Loa are thought to be the Ninole Hills on its southern rim, a subaerial basalt rock about 100 to 200 thousand years old. They form a terrace against which smaller flows have since been banked, heavily eroded, and directionally incised against its slope. It is believed to be the result of a period of erosion due to a change in the direction of the lava flow due to the prehistoric collapse of the volcano. 

This is followed by two lava flow units separated by an intermediate ash layer known as the Pahala ash layer: the older Kahoka basalt, which is sparsely exposed on the lower southwest rift, and the younger and more extensive Kaw basalt, which appears more widely. Volcanic Pahala ash was produced over a long period of time, approximately 13 to 30 thousand years ago, although extensive vitrification and interactions with post-creative flows have hindered precise dating. Their age roughly corresponds to the glaciation of Mouna Loa during the last ice age, raising the distinct possibility that it is the result of phreatomagmatic interaction between long-gone glaciers and the eruptive activity of Mouna Loa.

2. Recent History

Lava fountains and a channel flow from Mauna Loa in 1984

Ancient Hawaiians have lived on the island of Hawaii for about 1,500 years, but they have preserved almost no records of volcanic activity on the island, other than a few fragmentary accounts in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. 

Possible eruptions occurred around 1730 and 1750 and between 1780 and 1803. An eruption was observed on Maui by a missionary in June 1832, but the 190 km (118 mi) distance between the two islands and the lack of apparent geological evidence cast doubt on this testimony. Thus the first fully confirmed historically observed eruption was the January 1843 event. Since then, Mona Lava has erupted 32 times.

Historical eruptions at Mauna Loa are generally Hawaiian in character and rarely violent, beginning with the eruption of lava fountains along several kilometers of fissures known colloquially as “curtains of fire.” (often, but not always, spreading from the summit of Mauna Lava) and eventually focusing on a single vent, its long-term eruptive center. 

Its Peak activity usually occurs a few months after the eruption, and although Mauna Loa has historically been less active than its neighbor Kilauea, it produces large volumes of lava in a short period of time.  Most eruptions are centered either at the summit or at its two major rift zones. Over the past two hundred years, 38% of eruptions have occurred at the summit, 31% in the northeast rift zone, 25% in the southwest rift zone, and the remaining 6% from the northwest vents. 

40% of the volcano’s surface is a thousand consists of lavas less than a year old,  and 98 percent of the lavas are less than 10,000 years old. In addition to the summit and rift zones, the northwest flank of Mona Lava has also been the source of three historic eruptions.

3. Risks

Mauna Loa has been designated a decade volcano, one of sixteen volcanoes identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) for its large, destructive eruptions and populations. are worthy of special study in light of their close history. Areas. The United States Geological Survey maintains island hazard zone mapping on a scale of one to nine, with the most hazardous areas corresponding to the smallest number. 

Based on this classification, Mauna Loa’s continuously active summit caldera and rift zones are assigned a Level One designation. Much of the area around the rift zones is considered level two, and approximately 20% of the area has been submerged in lava in historical times. Much of the volcano is at threat level three, with about 15 to 20 percent covered by flows over the past 750 years. 

However, two parts of the volcano, the first in the Naalehu area and the second on the southeast edge of the Mouna Loa rift zone, are protected from eruptive activity by the local topography and are thus designated as a hazard level 6. , which can be compared with isolation in a similar way. The section on Kīlauea.

Mauna Loa
Mauna Loa

4. Monitoring

GPS station, tail meter, and strain meter at the summit of Mauna Loa. Not shown: a webcam and gas detector on the caldera rim.

Summit inflation was measured by GPS between June 2004 and April 2005; Arrows indicate growth between 1 and 10 cm (0.4 and 3.9 in).

Founded in 1912 in Kīlauea, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), now a branch of the United States Geological Survey, is the primary organization involved in the monitoring, observation, and study of Hawaiian volcanoes.[68] The observatory’s founder, Thomas A. Jagger attempted a summit expedition to Mauna Loa to witness the 1914 eruption but was put off by the difficult trek required (see Ascent). 

After enlisting the help of Lorraine A. Thurston, in 1915 he succeeded in persuading the US Army to build “an easy route to the summit” for public and scientific use, a project that was completed in December of that year. The observatory has maintained a presence on the volcano ever since.

Eruptions on Mauna Loa are almost always preceded and accompanied by long episodes of seismic activity, for which monitoring was the primary and often only warning mechanism in the past and is still viable today. Seismic stations have been maintained in Hawaii since the observatory’s inception, but these were primarily concentrated on Kilauea, with Mauna Loa’s coverage only gradually improving during the 20th century.

 After the invention, the backbone of the present-day monitoring system was installed on the volcano in the 1970s. Mauna Loa’s July 1975 eruption was predicted by more than a year of seismic unrest, with HVO issuing warnings to the general public since late 1974. Similarly, the 1984 eruption was preceded by unusually high seismic activity for three years, with volcanologists predicting an eruption within two years in 1983.

Human history

1. Contact in advance.

The first ancient Hawaiians to arrive on the island of Hawaii lived along the coasts where food and water were abundant. Flightless birds, previously unknown to predators, became an important source of food. Early settlements had a major impact on local ecosystems, and led to many extinctions, particularly of bird species, as well as the introduction of exotic plants and animals and increased rates of erosion. The prevailing lowland forest. The ecosystem had changed from forest to grassland. Some of this change was due to the use of fire, but the main reason appears to be the introduction of the Polynesian rat (Rattus exulans).

Ancient Hawaiian religious practice holds the island’s five volcanic peaks sacred and venerates the largest of them, Mauna Loa; But the legend that survives today consists primarily of 18th-century oral accounts that were compiled earlier. In 19. Most of these stories agree that Pele, the goddess of Hawaiian volcanoes, resides in Halimao on Kilauea. Few people, however, place their home on Mauna Loa’s summit caldera Mokowaweu, and legends generally associate it with all the volcanic activity on the island.

Regardless, Kīlauea lacks topography and is stronger than Mauna Loa. Because of the volcanic connection, it came to be considered a branch of Mauna Loa by the ancient Hawaiians, meaning that most of the legends now associated with Kīlauea were originally directed at Mauna Loa as well. 154–155

Mauna Loa
Mauna Loa

2. European summit efforts.

James Cook’s third voyage was the first to make landfall on the island of Hawaii in 1778, and Cook returned to the island in 1779 after an adventure along the west coast of North America. On his second tour John Ledyard, a corporal of the Royal Marines aboard HMS Resolution. , to Peak Mauna Loa to learn about “that part of the island, especially the summit, which is usually covered with snow, and which has excited great curiosity”. 

Proposed a campaign and got approval. Using a compass, Ledyard and a small group of shipmates and local attendants attempted to make a direct course to the summit. However, on the second day of the journey the path became steeper, rougher, and blocked by “impenetrable thickets,” and the party was forced to abandon their attempt and return to Kealakekua Bay, 

calculating that they had “24 miles have penetrated and we believe that ] within 11 miles of the summit”; In reality, Mokuʻāweoweo lies only 32 kilometers (20 mi) east of the bay, a gross overestimation by Ledyard. Another of Cook’s men, Lt. James King, estimated the peak to be at least 5,600 meters (18,373 ft) high based on its snowline.

Scottish botanist and naturalist Archibald Menzies was the primary European to arrive at the culmination of Mauna Loa on his third endeavor. The next attempt to summit Mauna Loa was an expedition led by botanist and naturalist Archibald Menzies of the Vancouver Expedition of 1793. In February of that year, Menzies, two shipmates, and a small group of local airmen attempted a direct route from Kealakekua Bay to the summit, making it 26 km (16 mi) inland by their calculations. 

Daya turned away from the thick of the (over a limit) forest. On a second visit to the island in January of the following year, Menzies was put in charge of exploring the island’s interior, and after passing the flanks of Hualai he and his party reached the high plateau separating the two volcanoes. Menzies decided to make a second attempt (over the objections of an accompanying island chief), but once again his progress was blocked by impenetrable undergrowth.

3. The Wilkes Campaign

Sketch of Wilkes’ campsite by ship painter Alfred Thomas Eggett

The United States Exploring Expedition, led by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, was tasked with an extensive survey of the Pacific Ocean beginning in 1838. In September 1840 they showed up in Honolulu, where fixes to the boats took surprisingly lengthy. Wilkes chose to spend the colder time of year in Hawaii and make a move to investigate its volcanoes while trusting that better weather conditions will proceed with the campaign. King Kamehameha III assigned an American medical missionary, Dr. Garrett P. Judd, to the expedition as an interpreter.

Wilkes left for Hilo on the island of Hawaii and decided to climb Mauna Loa first, as it looked easier than Mauna Kea. On December 14 he hired about 200 porters, but after he left he found that about half of the cargo had been taken, so he had to hire more Hawaiians at higher wages. When they arrived at Kilauea two days later, their guide Pohanu set off on the established ‘Ainapu Trail. Wilkes didn’t want to go back down, so he automatically lit his way through the thick forest with a compass. Hawaiians resented the loss of sacred trees, which did not improve morale. At an elevation of about 6,000 feet (1,800 m), they set up a camp called “Sunday Station” at the edge of the forest.

4. Today

In 1934 a summit shelter was built with some stones and mortar from Wilkes’ campsite. In 1916 Mokuʻāweoweo was added to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and a new trail was built directly from park headquarters at Kīlauea, an even more direct route. which was taken by Wilkes. 

This trail, approaching the summit from the east via Red Hill, became the preferred route due to its easy access and gentle gradient. The historic ʻAinapō Trail fell into disuse and was reopened in the 1990s. A third modern route to the summit is via Saddle Road to Mauna Loa Observatory, a few miles north of Mokuʻāweoweo and the North Pitt Trail at 11,135 feet (3,394 m).

5. Climate

Trade winds blow from east to west in the Hawaiian Islands, and the presence of Mauna Loa strongly affects the local climate. At lower elevations, it rains heavily on the eastern (windward) side of the volcano. Hilo is the wettest city in Hawaii and the fourth wettest in the United States, behind the Southeast Alaskan cities of Whittier, Ketchikan, and Yakutat. Rainfall supports extensive forests. 

The western (leeward) side has a lot drier environment. At higher elevations, rainfall amounts decrease, and skies are often clear. The very low temperatures mean that precipitation is often in the form of snow, and the summit of Mona Lava is described as a periglacial region, where freezing and thawing play an important role in shaping the landscape. 

The climate of Mauna Loa is a subtropical climate with warm temperatures at low elevations and cool to cold temperatures throughout the year. The following is the table for the Slant Observatory, which is at 11,150 feet (3,400 m) in the elevated zone. The highest recorded temperature was 78 °F (26 °C) and the lowest temperature was 18 °F (−8 °C) on September 26, 1990, and February 20, 1962, respectively.

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