Largest Active Volcano on Earth shows Signs of Life

Recent swarms of tiny earthquakes inside Hawaii’s Mauna Loa signal that the volcano may be coming back to life. But don’t cancel your vacation plans just yet.

Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that form the Island of Hawaii in the U.S. It is the largest subaerial volcano in both mass and volume, and has historically been considered the largest volcano on Earth. It’s been probably erupting for about 700.000 years, though it emerged above sea level “only” 400.000 years ago. The last time it erupted was in 1984, but caused only minor damage.

Now, researchers monitoring Mauna Loa reported four earthquake swarms, at shallow depths (above 15 kilometers), in the same places where they were reported in 1984. But it wasn’t just earthquakes that heralded the eruption in 1984 – so there’s no reason to fear yet.

Before the eruption took place, geologists also reported swelling on the surface of the volcano and gas coming out of the volcano’s cracks. None of these has been reported now. No significant ground deformation, no gas emissions – so while there is some pressure building up in the magma chamber, there is no definite indication of an incoming eruption.

Meanwhile, you can keep an eye on Mauna Loa using the livecams set up by the USGS.

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