Mauna Loa eruption: where is Hawaii volcano, when did it last erupt, is it largest volcano in the world?

The volcano began erupting on Sunday night, with debris and ash falling in the immediate surroundings, after earthquake tremors were felt on the summit of Mauna Loa

The world’s largest active volcano has started to erupt. Mauna Loa, located in Hawaii, is noted to have started erupting lava on Sunday night, with ash and debris covering the surrounding area.

As of yet, there have been no injuries or death as a result of the eruption reported, with the lava flow contained within the summit area. However, those living in the vicinity of the volcano have been advised to review their evacuation plans should they need to quickly leave their home.

Officials at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said: “Lava flows in the summit region are visible from Kona. There is currently no indication of any migration of the eruption into a rift zone.”

Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984, when lava flowed five miles into the city of Hilo. Scientists are said to have been alert for the newest eruption after a spike in earthquakes at the summit of the volcano.

Experts will be keeping a close eye on the lava flow due to the steep summit of Mauna Loa. Previous eruptions in 1926 and 1950 have seen villages destroyed. But where is Mauna Loa, and what have the experts said? This is what you need to know.

Where is Mauna Loa?

Mauna Loa is located in Hawaii, USA. It is located on the ‘Big Island’ in the US state. ‘Big Island’ is made up of five volcanoes. Mauna Loa is the biggest of these volcanoes. One of Mauna Loa’s neighbouring volcanos, Kilauea, erupted in 2018 and destroyed 700 homes. Standing at 13,679ft tall, Mauna Loa is much steeper than its neighbour, and therefore lava flows much quicker than on Kilauea and other volcanoes on the island.

What have experts said about the eruption?

Upon the initial eruption on Sunday evening, the United States Geological Service (USGS) said: "Lava flows are contained within the summit area and are not threatening downslope communities.” However, the alert level for Mauna Loa has now been upgraded to the highest level - ‘warning’.

The USGS added that in the early stages of the eruption, lava flow can change quickly and the direction and speed of the flow can be unpredictable. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is also due to look at the volcano from the air to assess the situation and also provide a better description of the eruption.

Mauna Loa has erupted for the first time since 1984. (Credit: Adobe)

Is Mauna Loa the largest volcano in the world?

Mauna Loa is often referred to as the largest volcano on earth. This is technically incorrect, as it is only the largest subaerial volcano - it is dwarfed by Tamu Massif, an underwater volcano located around 990 miles off the coast of Japan.

Tamu Massif is now extinct, with Mauna Loa holding the record for the largest active volcano in the world. Although the huge volcano is smaller in height than its neighbour, Mauna Kea, it has the greatest mass and volume of lava for any active volcano in the world.