Lava From Mauna Loa Eruption Traveled 16 Miles and Cost $2 Million

Dec. 15, 2022
No fatalities or major destruction of property is a win for everyone

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HiDOT) was monitoring the highways after Mauna Loa's eruption on November 27. Luckily, the response from emergency services helped keep people safe.

Governor Josh Green is commending the multi-agency team that responded to the Mauna Loa eruption.

Green met with federal, state, and county agencies Tuesday to review the team’s overall response, from the first signs of seismic activity to opening up temporary shelters to creating a traffic safety plan.

“We had about 45 minutes of seismic warning that this was happening. We had less than that, because our alarm system didn’t wake anybody up for 10 minutes,” said USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge Ken Hon, who explained how scientists worked with government officials to coordinate their response.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno credited teamwork for a smooth operation.

HIEMA estimates damage to infrastructure, primarily two private roads, adds up to about $1.5 million.

The cost of enforcement and viewing area operations totals about $600,000.

Green also surveyed the Old Saddle Road viewing route and met with Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth.

The team said the two week event set a high bar for communication and how quickly resources can be mobilized

“We talk about moving at the speed of trust. Relationships and trust that have been built over time allow you to move fast in a crisis situatiom,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin, Pohakuloa Training Area commander. “And that’s what I think we’re able to do here.”

The governor also drove up Mauna Loa Access Road to the point where lava overran the pavement to assess damages. “We would have of course had big costs if it had reached Daniel K. Inouye, Saddle Road. If that highway had been taken out, you’re talking about repairing a mile of a very important road,” he said.

“It didn’t happen. We’re grateful. But we’ll take care of Big Island and its needs.”

Over 12 days, lava traveled 16 miles, approximately 1.7 miles from the highway, with less than a quarter of the volume from the 2018 Kilauea eruption.

There were no fatalities or major destruction to property.