MAUNA LOA, Hawaii (KHON2)– While the action on Mauna Loa can be seen from almost anywhere on Hawaii island, that has not been the case for most of the other eruptions. Yet, access has almost always been given for people to see them.
Jessica Ferracane, a public affairs specialist for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, explained why and how they provide that access.
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Whether it is watching red hot lava from Pu’u o’o pouring into the ocean or seeing the bubbling magma from the summit eruption in Halema’uma’u crater, people have flocked to Hawaii island to witness the power of Pele for decades.
Jessica Ferracane, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Public Affairs Specialist, said people really want to see active volcanism so they try to get them as close to the action, as quickly as possible.
“When we can, we will provide safe, active access to lava flows and to the volcanoes,” Ferracane explained.
And, they do it any way they can by setting up viewing areas like the one they did at Kamokuna in 2017 so visitors could watch the lava spill into the ocean.
“The Park Service was able to make kind of a makeshift trail, if you will, over the hardened lava flows with reflectors and rope lines to keep people at a safe distance,” added Ferracane.
When Halema’uma’u erupted in 2021, Ferracane said they created a makeshift viewing area which is still there today. It is the only place you can see both Kilauea and Mauna Loa erupting simultaneously. Something Ferracane said has not happened since 1984.
But she said, sometimes it isn’t safe to provide access because volcanoes are dangerous.
Which is why the slopes and summit of Mauna Loa are currently closed.
“Those hazards could be the volcanic gas being emitted. Definitely, the case right now,” Ferracane said. “It could be Pele’s hair, those glass particulates being ejected out of the volcano, or tephra, or just the nature of the lava itself.”
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is holding its annual ‘Holidays at Kahuku’ event tomorrow from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Click here for more information about the event.
Due to the location and spectacle caused by Mauna Loa’s eruption along Daniel K Inouye Highway, Hawaii County Mayor Mtich Roth said they had to move quickly to provide a safe vantage point.
“It was a collaboration and partnership between our state our partners at PTA, Pohakuloa training area, and just a desire to make something happen to protect people who are driving, to protect our public and, you know, just really it was a safety issue,” Roth explained.
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He said the safety route will remain open as long as Mauna Loa is erupting unless it becomes unsafe. Visitors are welcome to tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see both volcanoes erupting in tandem.