Hawaii volcano alert level lowered to watch - USGS

FILE PHOTO:The Mauna Loa volcano erupts, as seen from Mauna Kea near Hilo, Hawaii, U.S. December 6, 2022. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo

(Reuters) - Lava and volcanic gas emissions at Hawaii's Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano, declined on Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

As a result, the Observatory downgraded the alert level for the volcano to a watch from the previous level of warning, with lava confined to a small area.

Under a watch alert level, an eruption is underway but poses limited hazards.

Mauna Loa began erupting in late November for the first time since 1984, ending its longest quiet period in recorded history.

The lava flow front in the Humu'ula Saddle region stagnated 1.9 miles (3.06 km) from the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road, and is no longer a threat, the Observatory said.

The behavior of the volcano suggests the eruption may end soon. However, an inflationary trend of Mauna Loa's summit is accompanying the decreased activity, the Observatory said.

"There is a small possibility that the eruption could continue at very low eruptive rates," it said.

(Reporting by Baranjot Kaur in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinge)

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