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This rapidly moving ʻaʻā lava flow was one of several that advanced down the west flank of Mauna Loa during the volcano’s 1950 eruption. The massive flow, tens of meters (yards) high, traveled from the Southwest Rift Zone vent to the ocean, a distance of about 18 km (11 mi), in around 18 hours. Two earlier flows from this eruption reached the ocean in as little as three hours. All three flows crossed Highway 11 as they advanced to the sea. In this black-and-white aerial photo, incandescently hot areas on the flow appear white. Photo credit: Air National Guard, 199th Fighter Squadron.

Volcano Watch: Mauna Loa Southwest Rift Zone’s eruptions stopped traffic—and more

During the past 148 years, Mauna Loa Southwest Rift Zone eruptions have sent massive lava flows across Hawai‘i Island’s main road six times: in 1868, 1887, 1907, 1919, 1926, and 1950.

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