Scientist continue to monitor the geological activity of the largest volcano in the world, Mauna Loa, located on the big island of Hawaii. Volcanologists warn that the giant could soon wake, although its awakening is unlikely yet, the US Geological Survey reported on Saturday.
Over the last week, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has registered over 200 earthquakes of small magnitude, almost all of them at less than 2.5 points on the Richter scale. The majority of tremors occurred at a depth of six kilometers, below the summit and in the upper-elevation areas of Mauna Loa’s flanks, and has not affected the volcano itself.
“Rates of deformation and seismicity at the summit remain slightly elevated and above long-term background levels. A magnitude-4.2 earthquake located beneath Mauna Loa's southeast flank on Wednesday, March 10, at 2:21 p.m. HST has had no apparent effect on activity at Kīlauea or Mauna Loa volcanoes,” the agency stated.
At the same time, according to the agency, the results of monitoring the volcano haven’t revealed significant changes “deformation rates or patterns,” which usually are wake-up call for increased volcanic activity. The USGS has only highlighted one bigger earthquake of 4.2 points, registered below the volcano’s southeast flank on 10 March.
Despite the fact that the eruption is not going to happen anytime soon, locals of the most vulnerable districts, including near neighboring Mauna Loa, “people pack ‘go’ bags containing essential items in case you have to leave your house under an evacuation order,” according to HVO.
Lava flows from the volcano could reach the nearest settlements in a few hours, but half of Mauna Loa’s eruptions hadn’t let the lava go beyond the top of the volcano.
The other Hawaii’s volcano Kīlauea, has been erupting over the recent years. The last one, accompanied by an earthquake of 4.4 points, was reported in December 2020. The previous eruption of Kilauea in May 2018 lasted for several months. Torrents of magma destroyed two coastal resorts and the town of Leilani Estates, whose 10,000 inhabitants were evacuated.