Mauna Loa Volcano on Hawaii's Big Island.

Hawaii Says Media Hype Overblown On Mauna Loa Eruption Prospect

Today, the state’s marketing arm, HVCB, is warning the media to back off on its hyped reporting about the Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island. They said, “Maunaloa is not erupting, and there are no signs of an imminent eruption at this time.” Recent news of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) monitoring Maunaloa volcano on the island of Hawaiʻi should cause no reason for travelers to alter their travel plans to Hawaiʻi Island at this time. HVO continues to monitor any changes at Maunaloa, issuing daily updates until further notice.” Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island last erupted in 1984.

There is no reason at this time for travelers to change or alter their leisure or business plans.

It seems as though media hype is hurting Big Island tourism.

Everything is operating normally on the Big Island, and we can confirm that as your editors were there over the past week. All flights into Kona Airport and Hilo Airport are also operating normally, although there are extensive Hawaii flight delays that visitors should take into account. These are unrelated to Mauna Loa.

The only thing that has changed is that “as a precautionary measure, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has closed the Maunaloa summit backcountry until further notice.” However, Maunaloa Road and the Maunaloa Lookout, perched at 6,662 feet elevation, are still open to the public.

Visit the USGS site at

What USGS Has To Say:

It’s been 38 years since the last eruption, and since 1950, there have been only two such events. Most of the previous 33 eruptions happened between 1843 and 1950. USGS states, “The (Yellow) ADVISORY Alert level does not mean that an eruption of Mauna Loa is imminent or that progression to an eruption from the current level of unrest is certain.” The locations of recent shallow earthquakes are similar to those before the 1975 and 1984 Mauna Loa eruptions, but other precursory signals are missing.

When Mauna Loa Erupted in 1984 vs current conditions.

Mauna Loa 1984 Eruption
1984 Mauna Loa Eruption. USGS.

When Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984, it followed 3 years of increasing earthquake activity. These reached a frequency of 2-3 earthquakes per minute following a 6.6 earthquake in November of 1983. By March of 1984, small earthquakes began at a high frequency. And it is interesting to note that the telescopes at nearby Mauna Kea, some 26 miles away, stopped working due to constant earthquake-induced vibration.

The current earthquake unrest consists of 40–50 per day, which is double what it had been. That in no way compares with the 2,880 to 4,320 daily earthquakes that began the 1984 eruption.

Some examples of recent hyped media article titles:

CNN. “Dozens of earthquakes detected as Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, world’s largest active volcano, remains in ‘state of heightened unrest.’

People. “Hawaii Residents Warned of Possible ‘Lava Disaster’ as Volcano Rumbles.”

Today. “Mauna Loa, world’s largest active volcano, shows signs it may erupt.”

AP. “Hawaii’s Big Island gets warning as huge volcano rumbles.”

ABC: “Mauna Loa volcano sets off warning signals in Hawaii.”

Forbes: “Hawaii travel update: Mauna Loa showing signs of possible eruption.”

Photo Credit: Mauna Loa photo from 2018.

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17 thoughts on “Hawaii Says Media Hype Overblown On Mauna Loa Eruption Prospect”

  1. We live here on the slopes on Mauna Loa. The fissure from the 1955 eruption runs right through my property. It created a ridge so I just look at it as more of a barrier to a future flow. I dont worry about it.

  2. Stationed at Marine Corps Air Station at Kaneohe Bay,Terr.Hawaii 1958-1960 Anti Tank Batt(Ontos) Reconnaissance Batt(Recon) an Infantry Batt. and Helicopter Batt. 3rd Marine Division. I served two years Anti Tank B Company. Island of Hawaii a active volcano Mauna Loa did it erupt about a month after Drills were held on Hawaii Island.(Hilo). If memory service me correctly.

    1. The above comments concerning the volcano eruption on the large Island of Hawaii were meant to be more like a verification. Due to the current news taking place in Hawaii at this time. Only this and nothing more. I thank this media for the chance of expressing or asking of questions.

  3. We have been coming to the Big Island for a good many years. I think there is always a bit of FOG around. It’s just what the Big Island is about. But what I like the best is seeing the snow on the top third of the island as you fly in.

  4. These headlines are not surprising. Today’s journalism is about “click bait” to increase views to secure greater advertising revenue.

    What’s really alarming, is for all the govt spending in the past year, the Jaggar museum, and a few other spots along the chain of craters road are still in disrepair. The HVNP and its paying visitors deserve better.

  5. Would you please let me know if the flights are continuing to be delayed at Honolulu airport? We are scheduled to fly in on the first of November.
    Thank you very much

  6. Lots of mixed signals regarding Hawaii tourism. Governor to be wants to charge a tourist tax. It appears that the “locals” are split 50-50 as to wanting tourists. Rental car agencies gouging tourists. From outward appearances the possible eruption of Mauna Loa appears to be a minor issue regarding lack of tourism on the Big Island. Maybe the “golden goose” has finally been killed!

    1. I’ve lived in the Territory of Hawai’i (pre-statehood) off and on going back to the ’50s. The sugar cane industry, pineapples, and fishing are either dead or mere shadows of the economic engines they used to be and we did not have a budget or unemployment problem back then.

      Then came the tourism boom bringing with it foreign and Mainland money big time; but as it was seen as the last gasp economic “salvation” of the Islands, it was “O.K.” But now — “locals” are split 50/50 on whether or not they “want tourists” ??? And how many of those folks are themselves imports from the Mainland who have decided they’re Kamaʻāina?

      I’ve never seen such group self-destructive behavior as I’ve witnessed in the Islands since Statehood.

  7. That’s a laugher if I ever heard one. Media hype playing havoc with tourism. You’ve got your next governor planning on imposing a fee as a means of cutting back on tourism and the “media “ does the job for him.

    As an aside, I’ll be on the Big Island in December for my last trip to Hawaii and if Mauna Loa isn’t actively erupting I plan to do my usual hike up the mountain. Shouldn’t be too crowded.

  8. I don’t think that the media headlines are overblown. There actually is unusual and abnormal seismic activity currently on the Big Island. That is the fact that cannot be disputed. While it might not fit the pattern of the most recent volcanic eruption‘s, vulcanology is not an exact science. The public and the tourists have a right to know. Yet another reason why the State of Hawaii must get off the tourism gravy train. It’s too unpredictable.

  9. When I was there a couple of weeks ago, we felt an small earth movement in Waikoloa. Apparently it was due to a larger earthquake that day in Pahala. So Mauna Loa may not be ready to erupt but earthquake activity has definitely increased in that area closer to the volcanoes. Being born and raised in Southern California, it didn’t upset me much. Some visitors may have an issue with it though.

  10. Reminds me of the scene in Jaws when Chief Brody wants to warn the tourists about the shark. The Mayor says, “Amity is a tourist town”. We all know what happens next.

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