Thar she blows

Mauna Loa: 8 explosive views show the world's largest volcano erupting

After 38 years, it’s awake.

Originally Published: 
USGS/J.D. Griggs

Danita Delimont/Gallo Images ROOTS RF collection/Getty Images

Shortly before midnight on November 27, the largest volcano on Earth woke from almost four decades of slumber.

Mauna Loa, located the island of Hawaii, is currently erupting.

Its last eruption happened in 1984. Since then, the volcano has been relatively quiet, until this week.

USGS/J.D. Griggs

Currently, volcanic activity appears to be contained to Mauna Loa’s caldera, the large crater at its summit — seen in this image from 2009.

USGS/Ben Gaddis


But experts are keeping an eye on the volcano’s activity and tracking lava flows that could travel down from the summit.

So far, satellite and ground-based cameras have captured explosive views of the volcano’s activity from all angles.

Natalie Deligne, USGS

Here are 8 images of the eruption so far:

8. On November 28, the volcano’s heat signature was visibly glowing over Hawaii, as seen by NOAA’s GOES-West satellite.



7. A trail of gas and debris (light gray) radiates from the volcano, imaged here in visible light.


6. You can see the fumes a bit clearer here in this thermal image (in green).

5. This was the view from a monitoring camera above the northwest rim of the caldera. The region clouds in the hours leading up to the eruption, and lava glows shortly after.


4. From atop nearby Mauna Kea, the weather quickly changed as Mauna Loa began to erupt. Watch for a brief view of the glowing summit once the sun rose on November 28.


3. Another wide landscape view on November 27, from atop a tower at the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

2. A thermal camera positioned above the caldera captures its rapid temperature change leading up to the eruption.


1. As of 7:15 a.m., Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time, this was the view above the northeast rift of the caldera, where the eruption is active.

Natalie Deligne, USGS

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