Hawaiian Volcano Observatory monitors Mauna Loa as seismic activity perks up
  • Wednesday, June 19, 2019
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Hawaiian Volcano Observatory monitors Mauna Loa as seismic activity perks up

  • JAMM AQUINO / May 5

    Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s scientist-in-charge and volcanologist Tina Neal, shown here speaking at a news conference at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in Volcano, says recent seismic activity at Mauna Loa is “no cause for alarm.”

  • COURTESY USGS

    This U.S. Geological Survey webcam image from today focuses on Mauna Loa’s Southwest Rift Zone with the volcano’s summit at upper right.

HILO >> Scientists on the Big Island are monitoring increased activity surrounding Mauna Loa volcano.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is closely monitoring Mauna Loa because conditions have risen to levels comparable to a more active period between 2014 and 2017, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.

It is too early to predict possible outcomes of Mauna Loa’s activity, according to Tina Neal, the observatory’s scientist-in-charge.

“An eruption could be anywhere from months to years away,” Neal said. “But we do know that it’s not days or weeks away.”

There have been increased earthquakes and ground deformation around Mauna Loa’s summit, she said.

Earthquakes on Mauna Loa dropped to fewer than five a week in early 2018, but there have been up to 90 earthquakes weekly since August, with most considered mild at magnitude 2.0 or less on the Richter scale, Neal said.

Gas monitoring equipment at Mauna Loa’s summit has not detected any emerging fumes, she said.

“The most important thing is that there is no cause for alarm,” Neal said.

A Kilauea Volcano eruption last year destroyed more than 700 homes from May through August. Kilauea’s current alert status is “Normal.”

The Kilauea eruption came shortly after a decrease in volcanic activity at Mauna Loa, but Neal said there is no “perfect correlation” between the volcanoes indicating one always becomes active as the other falls silent.

However, there is some geological basis to suggest a pattern, and Mauna Loa’s increased activity “would test that hypothesis,” Neal said.

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