Sunday, December 11, 2022

Mauna Loa quiet, but maybe not done erupting


Things are confusing atop Mauna Loa.

There is no longer any fresh lava erupting anywhere on the surface of the mountain, either at the summit where the eruption started, or on the Northeast Rift Zone, which produced the flow that threatened the Saddle Road.

The major source of lava flows, Fissure 3, is no longer producing molten rock.

The entire surface area where new lava erupted since the eruption began November 27 is cooling down.

The measurable tremor under the summit, which indicates magma is moving underground, appears to have stopped.

Sulfur dioxide gas production is way down.

That would all suggest that the eruption is over.

But USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is cautious.

“The Northeast Rift Zone eruption of Mauna Loa may still be active,” it said in its Sunday (December 11, 2022) update.

One data point: The summit is once again inflating.

“The significance of the continuing inflation while the flow field is inactive is not yet clear,” the scientists said.

In past eruptions, once a shutdown like this has occurred, Mauna Loa hasn’t been seen to return to big time eruption, but it might, or it might return to something less than that. Or it might be done.

As we’ve been doing, we wait.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2022

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