Mauna Loa: Facts About the Largest Volcano in the World

Here are some facts about Mauna Loa, one of the volcanoes of Hawaii.

  • Mauna Loa is the largest volcano in the world (in terms of its area and volume).
  • It has an area of 5,271 sq km (about 2,000 sq miles) and makes up just over half of the island of Hawaii. Four other volcanoes (Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai and Kilauea) form the other 50% of the island.

  • Mauna Loa is a shield volcano, a type of volcano known to grow to colossal sizes.
  • It has an estimated volume of 75,000 cubic km, and its magma chamber extends about 3 miles below sea level.
Mauna Loa
Map of Hawaii showing the location of Mauna Loa.
  • Mauna Loa is an active volcano. Its last eruption was in 1984 and since the 1840s it has erupted at least 30 times.
  • In 1942 it was feared that the eruption of Mauna Loa in that year would act like a beacon and attract a Japanese bombing run on Hawaii during World War 2.
  • Eruptions of Mauna Loa tend to be non-explosive and feature lava fountains.
  • It has been estimated that Mauna Loa has been active for 700,000 years.
  • Mauna Loa has long, gradually slanting slopes that extend to the sea floor.
  • Mauna Loa rises from the sea floor, and its height from its base to its summit is 9170 metres. This is greater than the height of Mount Everest.
  • Mauna Loa, a name of Hawaiian origin, literally translates to Long Mountain.
  • The summit of Mauna Kea, another Hawaiian volcano, is slightly higher than the peak of Mauna Loa. The difference is about 30 metres.
  • Mauana Loa’s summit is often snow-covered.

What next? Discover more volcano facts or learn about some of the world’s most important mountains.