USGS HVO Press Release — Hear about Mauna Loa's eruptive history and current status in a West Hawai‘i presentation

Release Date:

HAWAI‘I ISLAND, Hawai‘i — Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth, is the topic of a presentation at Pu‘uhōnua o Honaunau National Historical Park on Wednesday, February 8, 2012.

Frank Trusdell, a U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist who has studied Mauna Loa for two decades, will talk about the volcano's past eruptions and current status. The program, which begins at 6 p.m. at the park's amphitheater, is free and open to the public.

Mauna Loa, one of Hawai‘i's most active volcanoes, has erupted 33 times since 1843. Its most recent eruption began on March 25, 1984. During that 23-day-long eruption, Mauna Loa sent lava flows to within 4 miles of Hilo city limits.

West Hawai‘i has also been impacted by Mauna Loa eruptions. In 1950, lava flows from Mauna Loa’s southwest rift zone crossed Highway 11 in three places on the Mamalahoa highway. The first flow, erupted from a fissureat an elevation of almost 10,000 feet, flowed from the vent to the ocean in less than three hours.

During Mauna Loa's 1859 eruption, lava flows traveled from vents high on the northwest flank of the volcano and entered the ocean near Kiholo Bay, a distance of over 50 km (31 miles), in eight days.

Mauna Loa has been quiet for more than 25 years, so new residents may not be aware that Mauna Loa is an active volcano, and long-time residents may have forgotten the full potential of earthquake, volcano, and gas hazards posed by the volcano. When Mauna Loa erupts, it is capable of disrupting lives and commerce throughout Hawai‘i Island.

According to Trusdell, Mauna Loa will erupt again. "HVO closely monitors Mauna Loa, and will notify the public of any changes in its currently quiet status," he said, "but it’s important for island residents to be aware of the volcano’s potential activity now so that they are prepared for its next eruption." 

For more information about this presentation, please call the Pu‘uhōnua o Honaunau National Historical Park at 808-328-2326, extension 1241. For more information about HVO and Hawaiian volcanoes, please visit HVO's website at

Daily updates about ongoing eruptions, recent images and videos of summit and East Rift Zone volcanic activity, maps, and data about recent earthquakes in Hawaii are posted on the HVO website at

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