Will Wade

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on Earth, erupted for the first time in nearly four decades, prompting local authorities to issue ash fall advisories and open emergency shelters.

The volcano began erupting around 11:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, spewing ash into the sky. Officials have not issued evacuation orders and air traffic remains free. For now, the lava is near the top, although officials warned that could change.

Rising 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) above sea level, Mauna Loa is the largest of the five volcanoes that make up the Big Island of Hawaii. It has erupted 33 times since 1843, the last time in 1984. The nearby Kilauea volcano spewed ash 30,000 feet into the air during the 2018 eruption, limiting air travel and prompting evacuations.

“Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly,” officials said in a statement. While the lava is contained near the summit, “if vents migrate beyond its walls, lava flows can move rapidly downward.”

Meanwhile, in El Salvador, officials are warning locals to take precautions after the Chaparastic volcano erupted over the weekend with gas and ash explosions.


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