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Mauna Loa continues slow advance; hikers warned to stay out of closed area

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Aerial view of fissure 3 erupting on the Northeast Rift Zone of Mauna Loa the morning of December 4, 2022. USGS image by L. DeSmither.

Flow front advances slowly at 20 ft/hr

Update: 4:23 p.m., Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

The flow front at fissure 3 of the Mauna Loa volcano was about 2.15 mi from the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road), and was advancing at a rate of 20 feet per hour, according to the latest update issued by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at 12 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022.

The HVO continued to report several small overflows from main channels over the past day.

Even though the flow has slowed, the HVO advises that the flow remains active with a continuous supply from the fissure 3 vent. 

20 Hawai‘i National Guard members to assist

About 20 Hawai‘i National Guard servicemembers have been activated to assist Hawaiʻi County with the ongoing Mauna Loa eruption.

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Governor David Ige and Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara announced that the activated members will be placed on State Active Duty and will work with law enforcement to support traffic control near the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

The HING anticipates the activation to continue for 30 days, but the timeframe could be shortened or extended as the situation evolves, according to a news release.

The Hawai‘i National Guard was previously activated in 2014 and 2018 for both Kīlauea eruption response operations, according to the update.

The ongoing Northeast Rift Zone eruption of Mauna Loa, as viewed from the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) shortly after 6 a.m. HST on Dec. 4, 2022. The eruption continues, with a flow front that is slowly advancing towards the highway. USGS image by N. Deligne.

Flow front now 2.16 miles from the DKI Highway;
Lava slows to 25 ft/hr

Update: 9:04 a.m., Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

The front of the Mauna Kea eruption has slowed even more, with the flow front advancing at a rate of about 25 feet per hour, according to a new update issued by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

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The flow front was about 2.16 miles from the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road), as of 6:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 5. The HVO reports that there were several small overflows from main channels recorded over the past day.

Although the advance rate has slowed, the HVO advises that the lava flow remains active with a continuous supply from the fissure 3 vent.  

The HVO reports that strands of volcanic glass or Pele’s hair are reportedly being wafted as far Laupāhoehoe.  

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has deployed a number of webcams to aid in monitoring the ongoing eruption of Mauna Loa’s Northeast Rift Zone eruption. This image shows two webcams, which are monitoring the fissure 3 lava channel. USGS image by H. Dietterich.

Hikers Warned to Stay Out of Closed Area

Officers from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement warned a dozen  people to stay out of the active lava zone on Sunday after unexploded ordnance was found.

The Mauna Loa Forest Reserve was already closed a week ago after the volcanic eruption began, but state officials say they continue to see trespassers in the closed area.

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During a media tour, DOCARE Hawai’i Island Branch Chief Lawrence Terlep Jr. spotted a trio of people walking down Mauna Loa Access Road, which is closed. They reportedly told Terlep they thought “the road was only closed to cars,” according to a department press release.  

Agency officials say people caught in closed areas “risk getting seriously hurt walking across uneven ground in the dark, where hidden UXO may be located or recent lava flows could still be extremely hot.” They warned violators that they can be cited or arrested.

Authorities are urging people to view the current eruption from safe, established viewing locations. The Old Saddle Road lava viewing area between the 28.5-mile marker to the 34-mile marker reopened at around 4 p.m. on Sunday.

  • Hikers warned to stay our of closed area near the Mauna Loa eruption. PC: DLNR Hawaiʻi
  • Hikers warned to stay our of closed area near the Mauna Loa eruption. PC: DLNR Hawaiʻi
  • Hikers warned to stay our of closed area near the Mauna Loa eruption. PC: DLNR Hawaiʻi
  • Hikers warned to stay our of closed area near the Mauna Loa eruption. PC: DLNR Hawaiʻi

Resources and links:

Previous update

Flow front continues slow advance;
Now 2.25 miles from the DKI Highway

Update: 2:22 p.m., Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

The flow front at the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawaiʻi Island continues its slow advance, moving at a rate of 40 feet per hour. The front was last located 2.25 miles from the Daniel K Inouye Highway (Saddle Road), according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The HVO reports that although the flow has slowed over flat land over the past several days, fissure 3 in the Northeast Rift Zone remains active with a continuous supply of lava.

Several small overflows were recorded over the past day in the area where fissure 3 branches, “on the steeper slopes of the Northeast flank about half way down the lava flow,” according to the HVO.

The HVO reports, “there are many variables at play and both the direction and timing of flow advances are expected to change over periods of hours to days, making it difficult to estimate when or if the flow will impact Daniel K. Inouye Highway.”

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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