As of the morning of November 29, lava from the eruption of the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has been confirmed to have crossed the access road to NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory and taken out power lines to the site. These circumstances have resulted in a pause in data being collected at the observatory.
All NOAA staff from the Mauna Loa Observatory are safe.
At this point the facility is not accessible.
NOAA will continue to provide updates as the situation develops.
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Built in 1934, the Cape Kumukahi Lighthouse is located near the shore line on the most eastern projection of the island of Hawaii. At this location persistent north-east trade winds bring marine air to the island which generally has not been over land for many weeks. Thus, this air is representative of a large portion of the globe. A wide range of sample flasks are filled here on a weekly basis for analysis for a number of organizations around the world.
The upper picture shows the 125 ft (30m) lighthouse tower which supports air sampling lines running from the top of the tower to the base.
A number of air pumps within the white metal box continuously flush the sample lines. The area is fenced for security and there is ample power available for operation of equipment including instrumented trailers. The Pacific Ocean upwind of the site is visible on the horizon to the right. The coconut trees are planted and maintained by local Hawaiians - this site is considered sacred because the tower was completely surrounded, but not destroyed, by the lava flow of 1960. The dark lava from this flow may be seen behind the tower.
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