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The eruption of the world’s largest active volcano began in Hawaii National

HONOLULU (AP) — Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the world’s largest active volcanoerupted for the first time in nearly four decades, spewing volcanic ash and debris nearby, authorities said Monday.

The eruption began late Sunday night at the top of the volcano’s caldera on the Big Island, the US Geological Survey said. On Monday morning, it said the lava flows were contained to the summit area and did not threaten nearby communities.

“However, the lava flows in the summit region are visible from Kona. There are currently no signs of eruption migration in the rift zone,” the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a statement. A rift zone is where a mountain splits, the rock is cracked and relatively weak, and magma escapes more easily.

It’s impossible to predict how long the eruption will continue and whether it could cause lava flows into populated areas of the island, said Miel Corbett, a USGS spokesman.

“But I can tell you that right now we are in constant communication with Hawaii Civil Defense and they are giving updates to members of the community,” she said.

The USGS has warned that residents threatened by Mauna Loa’s lava flow should reconsider their preparations for the eruption. Scientists were alert due to a recent spate of earthquakes at the summit of the volcano, which last erupted in 1984.

Parts of the Big Island were under an ash advisory issued by the National Weather Service in Honolulu, which said up to a quarter inch (0.6 centimeter) of ash could accumulate in some areas.

Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that together make up the Big Island of Hawaii, which is the southernmost island of the Hawaiian archipelago.

Mauna Loa, which rises 13,679 feet (4,169 meters) above sea level, is the much larger neighbor of the Kilauea volcano, which erupted in a residential area and destroyed 700 homes in 2018. Some of its slopes are much steeper than Kilauea’s, so when it erupts, its lava can flow much faster.

During the 1950 eruption, the mountain’s lava flew 15 miles (24 kilometers) toward the ocean in less than three hours.

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