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Report on Mauna Loa (United States) — 16 March-22 March 2016

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 March-22 March 2016
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2016. Report on Mauna Loa (United States). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 March-22 March 2016. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (16 March-22 March 2016)


Mauna Loa

United States

19.475°N, 155.608°W; summit elev. 4170 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


On 17 March HVO reported that seismicity at Mauna Loa remained above long-term background levels and was characterized by shallow earthquakes occurring beneath the Southwest Rift Zone (SRZ) at depths of less than 5 km. GPS data showed continuing deformation related to inflation of a magma reservoir beneath the summit and upper SRZ, with inflation recently detected in the SW part of the magma storage complex. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Advisory.

Geologic Background. Massive Mauna Loa shield volcano rises almost 9 km above the sea floor to form the world's largest active volcano. Flank eruptions are predominately from the lengthy NE and SW rift zones, and the summit is cut by the Mokuaweoweo caldera, which sits within an older and larger 6 x 8 km caldera. Two of the youngest large debris avalanches documented in Hawaii traveled nearly 100 km from Mauna Loa; the second of the Alika avalanches was emplaced about 105,000 years ago (Moore et al. 1989). Almost 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is covered by lavas less than 4000 years old (Lockwood and Lipman, 1987). During a 750-year eruptive period beginning about 1500 years ago, a series of voluminous overflows from a summit lava lake covered about one fourth of the volcano's surface. The ensuing 750-year period, from shortly after the formation of Mokuaweoweo caldera until the present, saw an additional quarter of the volcano covered with lava flows predominately from summit and NW rift zone vents.

Source: US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)