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Mauna Loa lava is no longer an imminent threat to the Hawaiian Highway

HONOLULU (AP) — Lava from the world’s largest volcano is no longer a imminent threat to the main highway that crosses the Big Island of Hawaii, scientists said Thursday, a development that was a welcome respite for highway-dependent motorists.

mauna loa was still erupting Thursday morning, but the lava feeding the flow heading toward the crucial highway was cut off, likely due to a reduced production rate, said David Phillips, deputy scientist in charge of the Geological Survey’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory. USA

“That’s good news for us,” said Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth. Still, county officials said they will remain vigilant, because scientists say things could always change.

Lava from Mauna Loa, which erupted on November 27 after being silent for 38 yearsit was 1.76 miles (2.83 kilometers) from Saddle Road, also known as Route 200 or Daniel K. Inouye Highway, the US Geological Survey said.

“Just to emphasize, there is no current threat to any island community or infrastructure at this time,” Phillips said.

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Officials last week said the earliest the lava could hit the highway was a week, prompting motorists to brace for upheaval from a potential shutdown that could add hours to travel times on coastal routes. alternatives. But, as expected, the lava slowed down considerably in recent days as it moved across flatter terrain, leaving scientists unable to estimate a clearer timeline.

Phillips said the active fissure is still generating lava flows, but they will localize around the fissure.

If there are additional flows in the channel, it is highly unlikely that the supply from above will push the flow front forward and become a threat, said Frank Trusdell, a geologist with the volcano observatory.

“So at this time, we don’t expect that new lava coming to the surface will be able to replenish supply to flows that are closer to the Daniel K. Inouye Highway,” he said.

Meanwhile, scientists were trying to understand why the lava fountains were higher than usual overnight, a wonder people all over the island noticed, Phillips said. There was no good estimate of the size, he said, but it was at least several hundred feet.

Some 20,000 vehicles have used a viewing route, which was opened last week in an attempt to control crowds of nocturnal lava watchers, authorities said.

Members of the Native Hawaiian community planned to be along the road Friday to make sure the area is clear of debris and trash.

“And just as we do when we prepare for the arrival of Pelé, it is a practice for many of us to prepare our homes, to prepare the areas where we live and to make sure that these areas are clean,” Hawaiian said. cultural adviser Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, referring to the deity of volcanoes and fire.

For many native Hawaiians, the eruption of a volcano like Mauna Loa has a deep but very personal cultural relevance.

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