Historic Large Eruption of Mona Loa Creates Photographic Paradise

Mona loa volcano erupting

The vast Mona Loa volcano on the big island of Hawaii may be turning a certain part of its surrounding landscape into a vision of biblical hell right now, but for photography, it’s creating a visual paradise.

On late Sunday, the enormous and ancient shield volcano of Mona Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii started erupting for the first time in nearly 40 years.

The massive outpouring of magma and lava came as no surprise to the Island’s inhabitants or to geologists, since it has been a long-anticipated part of an eruptive process that has been mostly ongoing for the last 700,000 years or so.

Nonetheless, the state government of Hawaii has initiated an “all-hands emergency response” and opened up refuge shelters as a voluntary option for people who feel threatened by these most recent lava flows.

Despite this, the situation isn’t yet considered threatening and no mandatory evacuation orders have been put in place anywhere.  

Regardless of the current calm about the evolving situation, the bottom line is that huge magma fountains are shooting out of the volcanic summit right now and repaving the surrounding landscape with vast rivers of lava.

For people living close to the summit, it’s a potential nightmare. For regional politicians and emergency services workers, it’s a mountain of new work and possible worries.

For photographers of all kinds, however, the newest Mona Loa eruption is a boon for spectacular imagery.

mona loa erupting

mona loa erupting mona loa erupting

This doesn’t just apply to people taking photos of the eruption process. Videographers, documentary filmmakers and random amatuers have all started creating some spectacular photos and videos of the vast, ponderous volcano’s new show.

NOAA has also gotten in on the visual documentation spectacle as part of its essential mandate.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shared photos of the eruption captured by its NOAA Satellites program from orbit. These have been posted to NOAA’s Satellites Twitter feed and are also worth a look.

Then there was the work of the National Weather Service Honolulu office, which has posted some truly surreal photos of its own to its NWSHonolulu Twitter feed.

New agencies from around the world, from Newsweek to Reuters to the Washington Post have all published their own coverage of this historical geological spectacle, and we’ll see what else emerges from the heat in the coming days.

Some of the amateur footage and still shots filtering onto the internet of the geological event are also very impressive. As one Twitter user recently exclaimed in a post with several personal shots of Mona Loa’s fury coming to life:

“Mauna Loa erupting at sunrise is literally the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,”

Another eyewitness comment about the eruption’s emotional effect nicely sums things up,

“She’s awake!”

After a 40-year nap, the world’s largest terrestrial shield volcano is indeed awake and showing some powerful fury. Let’s hope it doesn’t take its temperamental change to wholly new extremes.

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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