Mauna Loa alert downgraded as scientists believe Hawaii volcano may stop erupting soon

The alert for Mauna Loa was downgraded to a watch after scientists reported the volcano's high eruption rates 'will not resume'

The active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has downgraded from a warning to a watch as scientists believe Mauna Loa's eruption is coming to an end.

On Saturday, a bulletin from the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported the eruption on the mountain's northeast rift zone was continuing, but lava output and volcanic gas emissions were "greatly reduced."

The observatory said high eruption rates "will not resume based on past eruptive behavior" and the volcano's current behavior suggests the eruption may end soon.

"However, an inflationary trend of Mauna Loa’s summit is accompanying the decreased activity and there is a small possibility that the eruption could continue at very low eruptive rates," the bulletin read.

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The bulletin also reported a lava flow front nearly two miles from Saddle Road, a vital highway used by residents and tourists to get from the east side of the island to the west, had "stagnated."

This comes three days after scientists said Wednesday the road was no longer under imminent threat from the lava.

Earlier reports raised concerns after scientists warned the lava could reach the roadway, which would have drastically impacted travel to and from the city of Hilo.

A man talks on a phone in his car alongside Saddle Road as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. 

A man talks on a phone in his car alongside Saddle Road as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii.  (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

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Mauna Loa, which means "Long Mountain" in Hawaiian, last erupted in 1984. The current eruption marks its 34th since written record keeping began in 1843. 

Kilauea, a smaller volcano nearby, is also actively erupting and has been since September 2021.

The rare phenomenon has drawn tourists to the Big Island during what is typically a slow season as both volcanoes can be viewed at the same time from multiple spots near Kilauea's caldera.

People watch and record images of lava from the Mauna Loa volcano Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii.

People watch and record images of lava from the Mauna Loa volcano Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

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The observatory's bulletin said scientists will continue to monitor the volcano closely. Flight restrictions remain in place in the area up to 1,500 feet above ground level.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.