Mauna Loa returns to normal as inflation ends

Sunny and 80 here in Ohio today. That could mean only one thing that is likely on everyone's mind. (I suppose there is also this other bit of news that we've been following, too.)


The low, broad shield of Hawai`i's Mauna Loa volcano.

The USGS announced yesterday that inflation at Hawai`i's Mauna Loa appears to have ceased. This prompted the decision to move the alert status at Mauna Loa from "Advisory" to "Normal". This would signify the end of any current activity on the big island's largest volcano - the inflation that had been slowing since 2006 (since 2003 really) finally stopped in October 2009, with no sign of inflation of the volcano since. However, this doesn't mean that the folks at HVO won't pay attention to the volcano - it is still an active volcano. GPS units and seismometers will continue to monitor the volcano for any changes in its activity. Remember, the last eruption at Mauna Loa was less than 30 years ago - that last erupted in 1984 erupted ~0.22 km3 in a fissure eruption. Mauna Loa erupted frequently during the 20th century, so we should expect the volcano to come back to life.

More like this

A pile of news for the new week! The glow of new lava flows from Nyamuragira in the Congo, taken from the Virunga Park Headquarters, January 2, 2010. MayonPHIVOLCS may lower the alert status at Mayon to Level 2 after almost a week of lower seismicity and no ash explosions since December 29th.…
Sally Sennert from the Smithsonian Institution sent me an email to say that this week's USGS/Smithsonian Institute Weekly Volcanic Report will be delayed due to the inclement weather in the Washington DC area. She can't connect with the server, so the report can't be updated on the Smithsonian…
Your weekly dose of volcanism from the USGS/Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program. Highlights (not counting Mayon), include: The activity at Mando Hararo in Ethiopia appears to be a fissure eruption. Ground observations saw a 4-5 kilometers / ~2.5-3 mile fissure with new predominantly 'a'a lava…
Brief news! Lava flows reaching the sea at Kilauea in Hawai`i. Image from November 2009, courtesy of HVO/USGS. The Alert Status at Cleveland in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands was raised to Yellow (Advisory) by the Alaska Volcano Observatory after new signs of activity emerged. The latest report from…

If I've understood this correctly, Mauna Loa has been inflating for at least some 7+++ years. In 2006 (2003 really) the RATE of inflation declined but the mountain was still inflating, something it has continued to do up until October 2009. This means that right now, there is more magma than there has been since the last eruption basically (unless Mauna Loa has started to deflate of course). And this happy state of affairs has led authorities to *lower* the Alert Status to normal???

I think a bit of explanation as to why wouldn't come amiss here! Thanks!

@Erik, are you kidding?! 80 degrees? Here, in "sunny CA" it is 39 degrees and we had 2" of snow this last Wed! And Eyjaf is having a white-out. ARG!

I have not been watching Mauna Loa lately, but I agree with Henrick that it seems a bit premature to lower the alert level to "normal". I would also like to see some opinions on their decision. Of course, they are closed to the mountain so they probably know what they are doing. They could get a surprise, though.

@Henrik, the Alert Status has been - justifiably - lowered because a volcano that is no longer swelling surely presents much less of a threat than one that's swelling. This means that currently Mauna Loa is not receiving any further supply, and it will not erupt unless supply resumes. Magma accumulation that caused the inflation a few years ago furthermore seems to have been quite deep, so the volcano is certainly in a much less unstable state than during the years prior to the 1975 and 1984 eruptions, which both followed an *acceleration* of both inflation and seismic activity. The contrary is the case now, so the lowering of the Alert Status is quite plausible.

Thank you Boris! So, the key here is *stable*, not *at which level*? I.e. change is proof of unstability and the likelihood of an eruption is greater than if there is no change, even if "fully loaded". Must be down to my old army experience as a loaded and primed gun is always considered more dangerous than one in the process of being loaded, same as experience tells me an inflated balloon is more likely to burst than one being inflated. Constructivism at its finest. Piagét would probably agree. ;)

Just noticed on Twitter that the æ¡å³¶ volcano (Kagoshima ?) in Japan has just erupted:

twitpic.com/1dczn0 - photo of eruption tweeted by @hughashton, taken around 4am bst. Check his twitter feed for more.

I wanted to say that it's great to know that someone else also pointed out this as I had trouble finding the same info anywhere else. This was the first place that told me the answer. Kudos. My best wishes, Sharan.

Not too long ago I purchased this super fast gaming computer, with about 8 Gigs of ram and it is so AWESOME! I can play the new Sims, the new Need For Speed, and Bloons TD and with no lagg at all. I purchased mine from DELL, all for like $1500 bucks all in... pretty good deal IMO.