Satellite observation is helping to map lava from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano - GPS World

Satellite observation is helping to map lava from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano

December 9, 2022  - By
Image: USGS

Image: USGS

In late November, the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii erupted for the first time since 1984 and is currently in an active volcanic eruption. Scientists are using satellites and helicopters to record and map the flow of lava on the Big Island.

The active eruption is in a remote area on the island, making it difficult to map it and the lava flow. It is critical to have accurate emergency information during the eruption in order to have appropriate resources and have ample time to evacuate, if necessary.

The easiest and most accurate way to map the lava from this eruption is via satellite. Based on satellite observation, scientists have been able to create a mobile app to support helicopter crews in making maps of lava flow that update in real time. This real time evaluation is sent to emergency personnel and geologists tracking the eruption patterns.



Image: USGS

Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times, the most recent of which was 38 years ago. The volcano typically averages an eruption every 5 years, making Mauna Loa’s most recent dormant period longer than normal. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), this eruption was caused by an increase in earthquakes below the Mauna Loa Summit, an increase of inflation tracked by GPS stations, and several additional geologic factors.

Live footage of the Mauna Loa eruption can be seen here.

This article is tagged with , , , and posted in Latest News, Mapping

About the Author: Maddie Saines

Maddie was a managing editor at GPS World.