Mauna Loa in Hawaii, which is the world’s largest active volcano, started erupting on Sunday for the first time since 1984. This was the end of the longest time that the volcano has been quiet in recorded history.
Sunday around 11:30 p.m. local time, the night sky above Hawaii’s largest island glowed a fiery red as bright, hot lava erupted from the volcano’s summit (0930 GMT Monday).
According to the U.S. Geological Service (USGS), the lava is confined to the summit and poses no immediate threat to Hawaiians living downslope.
Monday, the service issued a warning to residents that volcanic gases and fine ash may drift their way.
Mauna Loa rises 13,679 feet (4,169 meters) above the Pacific Ocean and is part of the chain of Hawaii-forming volcanoes. It last erupted in March and April 1984, sending lava within 5 miles (8.05 kilometers) of Hilo, the largest city on the island.
The Emergency Management Agency of Hawaii stated that it had opened two shelters on the island as a precaution, but emphasized that there are no indications that lava will threaten populated areas and that it had not issued any evacuation orders.
The agency says that about half of the Mauna Loa eruptions that have been recorded were limited to the summit.