Diversion of Lava Flows by Aerial Bombing — Lessons from Mauna Loa Volcano

The folks over at the Pacific Aviation Museum just posted this on Facebook and I thought it needed to be given a bit more attention.

I always thought that the lava flows were pretty much unstoppable but this seems to prove otherwise.

I would have no problem with the military dropping a few bombs above Hilo if it meant saving the entire town!

…Explosives were first suggested as a means to divert lava flows threatening Hilo, Hawaii during the eruption of 1881. They were first used in 1935, without significant success, when the Army Air Force bombed an active pahoehoe channel and tube system on Mauna Loa’s north flank. Channel walls of a Mauna Loa flow were also bombed in 1942, but again there were no significant effects. The locations of the 1935 and 1942 bomb impact areas were determined and are shown for the first time, and the bombing effects are documented. Three days after the 1942 bombing the spatter cone surrounding the principal vent partially collapsed by natural processes, and caused the main flow advancing on Hilo to cease movement. This suggested that spatter cones might be a suitable target for future lava diversion attempts

You can read the full abstract here: Diversion of Lava Flows by Aerial Bombing – Lessons from Mauna Loa Volcano, Hawaii.

3 Responses

  1. I always thought this made a lot of sense if major property was threatened, especially since one would guess that the military’s gotten more sophisticated with precision demolitions since ’42.

    My thought might be to work on the side of a lava tube, to create a new breakout that was headed in a “better” direction.

  2. Read today’s Tribune Herald, “on this day in 1935” section…

    • I don’t get the paper anymore… and feel stupid when I lurk at the newspaper rack w/out actually paying for it. I’m assuming I doubled up on something?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I do this to keep the spammers away * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.