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The science behind Mauna Loa’s on-going volcanic eruption

  • Published
    1st Dec, 2022
Context

Recently, Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, erupted after 38 years.

Background:

  • Mauna Loa is among Earth's most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times.
  • It last erupted in 1984 which led to destruction on the Island.
  • It has produced large, voluminous flows of basalt that have reached the ocean eight times since
  • It last erupted in 1984, when a lava flow came within 7.2 km (4.5 mi) of Hilo, the largest population center on the island.
  • Mauna Loa is certain to erupt again, and with such a propensity to produce large flows, we carefully monitor the volcano for signs of unrest.
About

About Mauna Loa:

  • It is the World’s largest active Volcano in the Island of Hawaii in the U.S. state of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.
  • The volcano makes up 51% of the Hawaii Island landmass.
  • It is an active shield volcano with relatively gentle slopes.
  • Lava eruptions from Mauna Loa are silica-poor and very fluid, and they tend to be non-explosive.

How big is Mauna Loa?

  • The largest active volcano in the world covers 2,035 sq miles (5,271 sq km).
  • It is one of a chain of five volcanoes that form Hawaii's Big Island.
  • This one volcano alone comprises half of the whole island.
  • Mauna Loa's summit is 13,680ft (4,170m) above sea level, but its base is on the sea floor.
    • From there the summit is 30,085ft (9,170m), making it taller than Mount Everest.

Significance:

  • Its eruption remains important as the volcano covers a large area of the island.
  • It gives the opportunity to the current scientist to study the volcanic phenomenon.

Type:

  • Shield Volcano: A shield volcano is a broad volcano with sloping sides that is formed mainly out of runny lava that flows out of its central summit vent.
    • Examples of Shield Volcanoes: are Mauna Loa on the Island of Hawaii, Wolf volcano on the Galapagos Islands, and Nyamuragira in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Why the volcano is ‘very fluid’?

  • Basaltic magma is high in temperature, very low on silica, and with low gas content.
  • Basic lava, which is non-acidic and very runny.
  • Gentle sides as the lava flow for long distances before it solidifies.
  • No layers, as the volcano just consists of lava.

 

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