The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is asking individuals to plan for the chance of emission at the world’s largest volcano: Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii.
In a new news release, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) researchers with USGS advised, “While an eruption of Mauna Loa is not imminent, now is the time to revisit personal eruption plans. Similar to preparing for hurricane season, having an eruption plan in advance helps during an emergency.”
Mauna Loa is viewed as the largest active volcano on Earth, transcending 13,681 feet above sea level. Mauna Loa ascends from the ocean floor of the Central Pacific at a depth of around 3 miles. Due to the volcano’s significant mass, the ocean floor directly beneath Mauna Loa is discouraged by another 5 miles.
As indicated by USGS, this places Mauna Loa’s summit around 56,000 feet above its base; the tremendous volcano covers half of the island of Hawaii, likewise referred to just as the “Big Island of Hawaii.”
Mauna Loa emissions tend to produce voluminous, fast-moving lava flows that can affect communities on the east and west sides of the Big Island from Kona to Hilo.
Since the 1850s, Hilo in eastern Hawaii has been undermined by 7 Mauna Loa lava flows. On the south and west sides of the island, Mauna Loa lava flows have arrived at the coast there 8 times: in 1859, 1868, 1887, 1926, 1919, and three times in 1950.
As indicated by USGS, while Mauna Loa isn’t emitting at present, rates of deformation and seismicity stay raised above long-term background levels. GPS estimations keep on showing moderate, long-term summit inflation consistent with magma supply to the volcano’s shallow storage system. A slight expansion in the rate of inflation that started in January proceeds.
A week ago, above 225 earthquakes rocked Mauna Loa. In any case, most were size 2.5 or less and most were below the summit. The strongest quake over the most recent 7 days happened in Pahala, registering as a 4.2 magnitude event on Wednesday afternoon. There have been more than 660 earthquakes on Hawaii Island over the most recent 30 days and more than 6,800 over the most recent 365 days.
With another emission on Mauna Loa inescapable, albeit the timing isn’t yet defined, the USGS is asking individuals in Hawaii to have a personal response plan, set up a “go bag”, and figure out what one would do in case of an eruption at various times of the day or week.
“The most important thing you can do is to have a personal response plan,” says the USGS. Report what you’d do when a volcano emits and ensure your loved ones know about what that plan is.
USGS recommends getting a “go bag” in order. “Nowadays, people pack “go” bags containing essential items in case you have to leave your house under an evacuation order. You may want to include important documents, like your birth certificate, deeds, legal papers, and medications.”
USGS says individuals in Hawaii ought to create plans that factor in various kinds of days and time of day: if family members are busy working or school at specific times, the plan should address what individuals ought to do and how they ought to communicate if an emission happens when individuals aren’t home.
USGS says, “It is useful to also have a communication plan, so you can be in touch with those you care about.”
Mauna Loa is one of 5 volcanoes that make up Hawaii’s Big Island. The oldest volcano on Hawaii Island is Kohala, which is more than 1,000,000 years of age. Kilauea is the most youthful, at an expected 300,000-600,000 years of age.
Mauna Loa is the second most youthful volcano on the island, assessed to be around 700,000 years of age.
Mauna Loa is a shield well of lava with long, wide slants that tumble off into the sea. Lava emissions from Mauna Loa are extremely liquid and are commonly non-dangerous. Magma for Mauna Loa and Kilauea, the last which has been ejecting since December, is sourced from a hot spot in the middle of the Pacific Plate.
Since the plate is gradually drifting, Mauna Loa will at last move away from the hotspot, become an extinct volcano in the next 500,000-1,000,000 years.
Mauna Loa’s latest ejection occurred from March 24 to April 15 in 1984. Lava from the 1984 flow spilled over close to the summit while extra fissures drove flows in the general direction of Hilo. The streams halted about 4 miles outside of Hilo’s city limits. No lava has moved from Mauna Loa since.
While researchers are sure Mauna Loa will emit, they aren’t exactly sure when yet or where lava will move from the following ejection. Past streams affected the communities of Puako and Waikoloa Beach on the northwest coast, Kailua-Kona and Captain Cook on the west coast, Milolii and Ocean View on the southwest coast, and Hilo on the east coast.
On account of the wide range of effects in past ejection events, the USGS is urging individuals island-wide to get ready for the chance of volcanic action. Beyond the risks of fast-moving lava flows, there could be toxic volcanic gasses and a volcanic haze known as vog, as well as fall-out of volcanic debris like ash or volcanic glass.
Hawaii additionally doesn’t have a monopoly on volcanic dangers in the United States. While USGS rated Kilauea as the greatest volcanic danger in the U.S. in its updated 2018 list of volcanic risks, Mauna Loa is just 16 on the list.
Washington’s Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainer, Alaska’s Redoubt, California’s Mount Shasta, and Oregon’s Mount Hood and Three Sisters are viewed as much more hazardous.