Mauna Loa is the biggest shield volcano (above water) on our planet. It’s been active over the past seven hundred thousand years, and it dominates the landscape of Hawaii since then.
Recent data shows more information about what may lead to future eruptions.
Analyzing shifts in the ground monitored by GPS and satellite data helped researchers model the magma flow inside of the volcano, plus figuring out what may or may not trigger a significant future eruption of Mauna Loa.
One of the main factors would likely be a significant earthquake. The conclusion came from measurements of magma influx that took place since 2014, due to the topographic stress of the surrounding rock,according to Sciencealert.com.
Bhuvan Varugu, a geologist from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami, said:
“An earthquake of magnitude 6 or greater would relieve the stress imparted by the influx of magma along a sub-horizontal fault under the western flank of the volcano. This earthquake could trigger an eruption.”
The scientists figured out that 0.11 square kilometres of new magma flowed into a new place of the volcano chamber between 2014 and 2020, modifying direction in relation to the pressures being placed on it.
Those types of magma body changes haven’t been analyzed in the past.
Combined with surface lava flows and ground shifts along the fault where the volcano is located, magma intrusions alter the volcano’s shape and, thus, the probability of an eruption.
Volcanologists already figured out that flank activity and eruptions are linked at Mauna Loa, meaning that changes in those flanks provoked by magma injections can lead to a considerable difference in terms of volcano behaviour.