Hawaii residents warned after world's largest active volcano rumbles

Callum Jones

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Hawaii residents warned after world's largest active volcano rumbles

Featured Image Credit: C. Storz / Alamy Stock Photo/ imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Hawaii residents are being warned as the world's largest active volcano is showing signs it may erupt.

Mauna Loa, which last erupted in 1984, has scientists on alert because of a recent spike in earthquakes at the volcano's summit.

Despite the fears, experts say that an eruption is not imminent, and any lava caused by an eruption would take hours to reach the closest homes.

An eruption at Mauna Loa is not believed to be imminent. Credit: Tom Uhlman / Alamy Stock Photo
An eruption at Mauna Loa is not believed to be imminent. Credit: Tom Uhlman / Alamy Stock Photo

Talmadge Magno, the administrator for Hawaii County Civil Defense, said: "Not to panic everybody, but they have to be aware of that you live on the slopes of Mauna Loa. There's a potential for some kind of lava disaster.

"Under current conditions an eruption from Mauna Loa is not imminent.

"We’re reminding people to take this opportunity to register for county emergency alert messages and prepare or review their plans to be ready for any disaster."

Mango noted that the volcano makes up 51 percent of the island's area, making it hard to predict what areas may be affected if an eruption was to happen.

The administrator added that if an eruption was to occur, the County would provide information to residents about safety measures, including evacuation routes and shelters.

In 1980, four years before Mauna Loa last erupted, the population of Hawaii was 92,000, with the population now more than double at 200,000.

The volcano last erupted in 1984. Credit: Phil Degginger / Alamy Stock Photo
The volcano last erupted in 1984. Credit: Phil Degginger / Alamy Stock Photo

Many were also not around during the last eruption, hence officials preparing residents now even though an eruption is not currently imminent.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has suggested that the volcano has been in a state of 'unrest' since the middle of last month, as the number of summit earthquakes increased sharply from 10 to 20 a day to 40 to 50 per day.

Ken Hon, chief scientist at The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, in recent report on the volcano, said: "Mauna Loa continues to be in a state of heightened unrest."

However, he noted: "The current increase in activity does not suggest that a progression to an eruption is certain."

Luke Meyers is an agency administrator at the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency who are supporting officials with the effort.

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“HI-EMA continues to support our partners on Hawai‘i island with outreach and planning assistance as Mauna Loa’s activity evolves,” he said.

“We encourage residents who are concerned about the seismic activity beneath the mountain to explore the ways they can improve their preparedness, including updating their emergency plans, reviewing their evacuation routes near where they live, work, and play, and checking the batteries in their emergency supplies.”

With the earthquakes declining in frequency in recent days, the current alert level of the volcano is 'yellow advisory', meaning there is no sign an eruption is likely despite the unrest.

Topics: News, Hawaii, Science

Callum Jones
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