Lava 1.8 miles away from Daniel K. Inouye Highway

  • This is a USGS aerial view of the lava crossing Mauna Loa Access Road on Monday.

Lava is still about 1.8 miles away from Daniel K. Inouye Highway, contrary to reports Tuesday.

Although Hawaii County Civil Defense reported Tuesday afternoon that the flow front of the Mauna Loa eruption was about 1.5 miles away from the highway, David Phillips, deputy scientist in charge for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said this morning that that report was based on a miscommunication, and that the lava is still a bit further away.


The lava is not much closer to the highway than it was Tuesday morning, when it was about 1.92 miles away.

Phillips said it is still difficult to make any estimates about when, where or if the flow will reach the highway, or what direction it will go.

While four of the last eight historical eruptions from Mauna Loa’s Northeast Rift Zone averaged about 18 days in length, the other four ranged in duration from 40 to 450 days, Phillips said.

So far, Phillips said, the current eruption is producing only a‘a lava like the shorter eruptions, but it also has not showed any signs of slowing its rate of lava emission.

Phillips also said a minor subflow branched off of the main flow about four miles upslope from the leading edge, which could impact the advance of the main flow.

Mayor Mitch Roth this morning urged visitors to remain respectful while viewing the lava. He said that several people have left the Traffic Hazard Mitigation Route on Old Saddle Road to approach the lava on foot, with some even leaving marshmallows near the flow to watch them cook.

Roth reiterated that all of the land south of the mitigation route is managed by the Pohakuloa Training Area and is off-limits to civilians. Trespassing, he said, could be charged as a misdemeanor offense.

Roth said that about 17,000 vehicles have traversed the mitigation route.

Later this week, Roth said the Royal Order of Kamehameha will “prepare the way for Madame Pele,” and will clean and conduct ceremonies around the lava viewing area.

Hawaii Police Department spokeswoman Denise Laitinen said there were three parking citations issued Tuesday to vehicles parked on the highway.

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