Mauna Loa is a huge volcano located on the main island of Hawaii in the Hawaiian Island chain. Mauna Loa has erupted many times within recorded history and is so large that it covers half of Hawaii's largest island.
Mauna Loa means "long mountain" in the native language, and for good reason. In terms of area, the mountain is 60 miles long.
This volcano rises 13,680 feet above sea level. However, Mauna Loa's base is on the ocean floor and the incredible mass of the mountain has caused this area to sink into the crust of the planet--if measured from top to bottom, Mauna Loa would be 56,080 feet high.
Mauna Loa is the type of volcano known as a shield volcano, meaning that it has been created over time by lava flows that cause the mountain to attain a shape resembling a shield, being greater in width than in height. The volcano is estimated by scientists to have been active for at least 700,000 years.
The first authentically documented eruptions of Mauna Loa were in January of 1843. Since that time, the volcano has eruped a total of 33 times, with the last one occuring in 1984 as of 2009.
Mauna Loa is so massive that it can affect the weather. On the windward eastern slopes, the weather is very rainy, with the climate supporting rainforests. On the summit during the winter, there is a snow cap due to the cold temperatures causing frozen precipitation to accumulate.
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