Hawai'i Volcano Blog

Mauna Loa Eruption Day 5: Lava flow remains 2.7 miles from Saddle Road

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This story was updated at 5:21 p.m. Dec. 2

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports one active lava flow on the northeast rift of Mauna Loa.  The leading edge of the flow closest to Daniel K. Inouye Highway, or Saddle Road, continues to have minimal movement and remains near the 7,000 foot elevation and 2.7 miles from the highway.

For a map of the Mauna Loa lava flow, refer to the Civil Defense Hazard Impact Map.

Daniel K. Inouye Highway is open in both directions and no communities are threatened.

For your safety, the speed limit was reduced to 35 miles per hour in the vicinity of Maunakea Access Road.  A one-way 4.5-mile lava viewing/traffic hazard mitigation route also was opened, with the entrance across from the Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area.  Pay attention to the road and be considerate of others on the roadway.

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This story was updated on Dec. 2 at 10 a.m.

Early morning images of the Mauna Loa eruption show the northeast rift zone is still active with fissure 3 continuing to be the dominant source of the lava flow. The leading edge of the flow is now 2.7 miles Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

The flow continues to have minimal movement and remains near the 7,000 foot elevation. The estimated time the lava could reach the highway is still approximately a week.

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David Phillips with the U.S. Geological Survey at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said the flow from fissure 4 waned overnight and is stagnant at this point. Fountaining from fissure 3 has reduced and they appear to be less vigorous, but the output seems to be steady.

“It’s really slowed down and spread out,” Phillips said. “It’s not showing indication on where it might go [east or west] at this time.”

The lava from fissure 3 is moving at 50 to 110 cubic feet per second. Phillips said there is no activity in the summit and there is a lower chance of additional fissures opening up. He added there’s no indication of fissures opening up on the southwest side that would threaten KaĹ«.

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Approximately 2,000 people used the traffic hazard mitigation route, which opened Thursday night. The 4.5-mile route on a portion of Old Saddle Road starts across from Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area and ends at Puuhuluhulu.

“I was through there last night it’s the best view and the safest place to go,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “I talked to a lot of people who were happy for a safe place to go.”

Prior to opening the mitigation route Hawai’i Police issued nearly 50 traffic citations to motorists illegally parking on the shoulder of the 60 mph highway. Last night, four were issued.

Hawai’i County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said there has been a request for the Hawaii National Guard to be deployed to assist with traffic control at the viewing sites and air quality monitoring.

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