Volcano Update

Mauna Loa Eruption Update


Mauna Loa Volcano on Hawaii Island began erupting late Sunday, November 27th, at the summit caldera of the volcano. Lava activity remains confined to the summit and north east rift zone, which is in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  The flows have settled on the flat ground around 2.5 miles from Saddle road.  Flows are moving at .025 MPH.  At this time, there is NO indication of lava flowing toward Big Island communities.

Due to trade winds, any ash fall will likely blow in the Kona/South Kona direction. Thus far, there has been no ash, and the warnings have been dropped. There’s no current risk to the residents of the Big island.

Volcanic activity is a spectacular natural wonder and part of what makes the Big Island so special.  This is one of the few places on the planet you can safely view active lava flows–now from two separate volcanos.

Additional Context

The Big Island of Hawai’i is the largest island in the United States. At over 4000 square miles, it is larger than Delaware, Rhode Island, and Washington DC combined. The Big Island has two active volcanoes. Kilauea (the most active of the two) has been nearly continuously erupting for over 100 years. The other is Mauna Loa which last erupted in 1984. Since 2004 we’ve experienced several volcanic related events — in all cases our operations were not affected. Please see the map on this page for reference.

Where is the Lava?

Far away from our campus.

The USGS reports:Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports the leading edge of two of the three fingers of lava on Mauna Loa’s northeast flank have stalled and the third remains at a high elevation of over 9,000 feet and more than 5 miles from Saddle Road. The northeast flank of

Mauna Loa is not populated and lava does not pose a threat to any communities or infrastructure, at this time.

Here is a link to the map:  Mauna Loa Lava Map

Is there a risk of a larger eruption like Mt St Helens?

No. Both Kilauea and Mauna Loa are shield volcanos, and unlike a stratovolcano, they are not at risk of large scale violent eruptions.

Volcanos are rated by the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI).  The scale is between 0-10 and all Hawaiian volcanos are rated as zero (0).

Hawaii is home to the most studied and monitored volcanic system in the world, and even has it’s own sub-classification (Hawaiian Eruption) defined by it’s gentle flow and eruptive nature.

What about Air Quality

  • How is air quality being impacted at PQ campuses specifically?
    Operating near a volcano in the Pacific has always meant that our air quality can vary based on conditions. It is important to note that the air quality on Hawaii Island is still better than many places around the world. Here is a world map of the Air Quality Index. Air on Hawai’i Island is most typically between “Good” and “Moderate.” 


  • What about Sulfur Levels and VOG?
    The term ‘vog’ refers to the hazy air pollution caused by the volcanic emissions from Kīlauea & Mauna Loa volcanos, which are primarily water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas. The trade winds blow most VOG from Kilauea to the Kona side of the island and other islands, such as Oahu. We are monitoring  SO2 levels and these also most commonly fluctuate between “Good” and “Moderate.”  


  • What about “Laze”?
    This effect is a result of Lava coming into contact with saltwater, and is isolated to the immediate area surrounding the active lava flow–nowhere near our campuses.
  • What about Volcanic Ash?
    We are closely monitoring instances of wind-driven ash from Mauna Loa throughout each day. So far, we have not experienced any ash. We are prepared to move to indoor programming if there is a need at any time.

Keep Up to Date

Rest assured that our experienced team has robust policies, procedures, gear and food in place to ensure the safety of our students and staff. We’ll keep you up to date if anything changes, but If you would like to look into updates on your own, or find more information, you can go to: Mauna Loa Updates

Of course if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out: 808-747-4589

Mauna Loa Volcano

Key Details

  • Current eruption began Nov. 27
  • Big Island residents are not currently at risk from lava flows; scientists say it is likely this eruption will remain near the summit.
  • There is not a risk of large, explosive eruption such as was experienced with Mt. St. Helens.
  • During PQ’s 18-year history on Hawaii Island, operations have never been impacted by any volcanic activity.
  • Pacific Quest’s experienced team has policies, and procedures in place to ensure the safety of our students and staff.
  • MORE INFO: USGS Mauna Loa page;
    National Park Service Mauna Loa page