Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, has been rumbling with more seismic activity than at any time since its last eruption.
“The earthquakes we are seeing at Mauna Loa lead us to believe that some of the same things that happened before the 1975 and 1984 eruptions are happening right now,” said Wes Thelen, a seismologist for the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
This sleeping giant which covers half of the island of Hawaii, is stirring to life…
Although they are not yet closing down the summit yet, there is a sign that something’s up deep underneath the volcano – but they will wait until either the earthquakes get larger or they see more inflation in the volcano to raise the color (warning) code.
Of interest is the fact that there are not a lot of cases in the historical record where we’ve seen Mauna Loa have such a long gap between eruptions.
What does that mean in the event of it’s eruption? It is unknown, however there is logic to suggest that it’s next eruption could be more severe.
A potentially greater hazard at Mauna Loa is a sudden, massive collapse of the volcano’s flanks, like the one that struck the volcano’s west flank between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago and formed the present-day Kealakekua Bay.
Deep fault lines are a common feature on Hawaiian volcanoes, allowing large portions of their flanks to slide downwards; large earthquakes could trigger rapid flank collapses along these lines, creating massive landslides and possibly triggering equally large tsunamis.
Undersea surveys have revealed numerous landslides along the Hawaiian chain and evidence of two such giant tsunami events: 200,000 years ago, Molokaʻi experienced a 246-foot tsunami, and 100,000 years ago a megatsunami 1,066 feet high struck Lānaʻi. A more recent example of the risks associated with slumps occurred when in 1975 the Hilina Slump suddenly lurched forward, triggering a magnitude 7.2 earthquake and a tsunami.