Story at a glance

  • Mauna Loa is located on the Big Island of Hawaii.
  • The Big Island is home to three other active volcanoes.
  • Another active volcano on the island, Kilauea, has been erupting since December.

The Big Island of Hawaii, home to the world’s largest active volcano, Mauna Loa, was rocked by 34 earthquakes on Sunday. While most of the earthquakes were low in magnitude, and none were strong enough to cause a tsunami, scientists warned citizens that an eruption from Mauna Loa could be possible in the near future.

“While an eruption of Mauna Loa is not imminent, now is the time to revisit personal eruption plans,” said a recent press release from scientists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. “Similar to preparing for hurricane season, having an eruption plan in advance helps during an emergency.”

The largest active volcano on Earth, Mauna Loa reaches a height of 13,681 feet above sea level, and 3 miles below the Central Pacific to the ocean floor. “Mauna Loa” is Hawaiian for “Long Mountain.” The volcano covers half of the island.

The Big Island of Hawaii is also home to three other active volcanoes: Kilauea, Mauna Kea and Hualalai. Kilauea has been erupting since December.


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Concern from scientists stems from the rate at which deformation, or changes to the volcano’s surface, are affecting Mauna Loa, as well as its seismicity, or the frequency of earthquakes. The Big Island has had more than 744 earthquakes of a magnitude 1.5 or greater in the last 30 days.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists recommended residents have response plans and a “go-bag” ready in the case of an evacuation order.

“Nowadays, people pack ‘go’ bags containing essential items in case you have to leave your house under an evacuation order,” the USGS said. “You may want to include important documents, like your birth certificate, deeds, legal papers, and medications.”

According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843. Its last eruption lasted from March 25 to April 15, 1984.


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Published on Apr 12, 2021