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Thousands of earthquakes a year: the United States prepares to erupt the largest volcano in the world

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is urging people to prepare for the potential eruption of the world's largest volcano: Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Writes about it WeatherBoy.

Photo: Shutterstock

In a recent news release, Hawaiian Volcanic Observatory (HVO) scientists from the USGS warned: “While the Mauna Loa eruption is not inevitable, now is the time to reconsider plans. As with preparing for hurricane season, planning ahead helps in times of emergency. ”

Mauna Loa is considered the largest active volcano on Earth and rises 13 feet (681 m) above sea level. Mauna Loa rises from the ocean floor in the central Pacific Ocean, from a depth of about 4170 miles (3 km). Due to the volcano's significant mass, the ocean floor just below Mauna Loa is lowered another 4,8 miles (5 km). According to the USGS, this places the summit of Mauna Loa about 8 feet (56 m) above its base; a huge volcano covers half of the island of Hawaii, also known as the "Big Island of Hawaii".

Mauna Loa eruptions tend to cause voluminous, fast-moving lava flows that can impact areas on the east and west sides of the Big Island from Kon to Hilo. On the southern and western sides of the island, Mauna Loa lava flows reached the coast 8 times: in 1859, 1868, 1887, 1926, 1919 and three times in 1950.

According to the US Geological Survey, although there is no current eruption of Mauna Loa, the rate of deformation and seismicity remain elevated compared to long-term background levels. GPS measurements continue to show a slow, long-term increase in pressure at the upper level, corresponding to magma feeding into the volcano's shallow storage system. The slight increase in the pressure level, which began in January, continues.

More than 225 earthquakes hit Mauna Loa last week. However, most of them had a magnitude of 2,5 or less and were below the top. The strongest earthquake in the last 7 days occurred in Pahal in the afternoon of March 8 - with a magnitude of 4,2. Over the past 30 days, more than 660 earthquakes have occurred on the island of Hawaii, and more than 365 over the past 6800 days.

Since another eruption on Mauna Loa is imminent, although the time has not yet been determined, the USGS is urging people in Hawaii to make a personal response plan, prepare a "hiking bag" and determine what to do in the event of an eruption in Hawaii at different times of the day or week. in different places (for example, at work, at school, on the road).

“The most important thing you can do is make a personal response plan,” the service recommends. "Document what you will do when the volcano erupts and make sure your family and friends are aware of the plan."

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The US Geological Survey suggests tidying up a backpacking bag, which, in addition to essentials, advises you to put important documents such as birth certificates, documents and medicines, and not to forget about a plan to keep in touch with family members and other important people in case of an emergency. situations.

Mauna Loa is one of 5 volcanoes that make up the Big Island of Hawaii. The oldest volcano is Kohala, which is over a million years old. Kilauea is the youngest, estimated at 300-000 years old. Mauna Loa is the second oldest volcano on the island, estimated to be about 600 years old.

Mauna Loa is a shield volcano with long, wide slopes that fall into the ocean. Lava eruptions from Mauna Loa are very fluid and usually not explosive. Magma for Mauna Loa and Kilauea, the last of which has been erupting since December, comes from a hotspot in the center of the Pacific Plate. As the plate drifts slowly, Mauna Loa will eventually drift away from the source, becoming an extinct volcano over the next 500 to 000 years.

The last eruption of Mauna Loa took place from March 24 to April 15, 1984. Lava spilled near the summit, and cracks directed streams towards Hilo. The streams stopped about 4 miles outside the city limits. Since then, no more lava has flowed out.

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Scientists still do not know when and where the lava will pour out as a result of the next eruption. Previous flows have affected the communities of Puako and Waikoloa Beach on the northwest coast, Kailua Kona and Captain Cook on the west coast, Milolia and Ocean View on the southwest coast, and Hilo on the east coast. Therefore, the US Geological Survey urges residents of the entire island to prepare for possible volcanic activity. In addition to the hazards associated with fast moving lava flows, there can be toxic volcanic gases and volcanic haze, the fallout of volcanic debris such as ash or volcanic glass.

Hawaii also does not have a monopoly on volcanic threats in the United States. Mauna Loa is only in 16th place on the list. Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainer in Washington, Redoubt in Alaska, Mount Shasta in California, and Mount Hood and Three Sisters in Oregon are considered even more dangerous.

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