Prayers? Bombs? Hawaii history shows stopping lava not easy

Humans have rarely had much success stopping lava and, despite the world’s technological advances, doing so is still difficult and dependent on the force of the flow and the terrain.


National News

December 1, 2022 - 5:08 PM

Mauna Loa eruption as viewed from Waikoloa. The world's largest active volcano erupted in Hawaii erupted at 11:30 p.m. local time Sunday, for the first time in nearly four decades, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was the first eruption since 1984, according to its Hawaii Volcano Observatory daily update. (Cover Images/Zuma Press/TNS)

HONOLULU (AP) — Prayer. Bombs. Walls. Over the decades, people have tried all of them to stanch the flow of lava from Hawaii’s volcanoes as it lumbered toward roads, homes and infrastructure.

Now Mauna Loa — the world’s largest active volcano — is erupting again, and lava is slowly approaching a major thoroughfare connecting the Big Island’s east and west sides. And once more, people are asking if anything can be done to stop or divert the flow.

“It comes up every time there’s an eruption and there’s lava heading towards habited areas or highways. Some people say ‘Build a wall’ or ‘Board up’ and other people say, ‘No don’t!,’” said Scott Rowland, a geologist at the University of Hawaii.

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