MIAMI — New data has revealed more about what might set off eruptions at the world's largest volcano.
In a study published in Nature Scientific Reports, researchers at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami modeled movements inside the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, which according to the U.S. Geological Survey website has a summit 17 kilometers, or 56,000 feet, above its below-sea-floor base.
The researchers found that while there was recent movement along a fault under the eastern flank, relatively little movement was detected under the western flank.
They concluded that an earthquake under the western flank is due.
Alongside this, the researchers found that between 2014 and 2020, 0.11 cubic kilometers of new magma pushed its way into a dike-like magma body beneath the south of the volcano's summit.
Given this magma influx, an earthquake of magnitude 6 or greater could cause an eruption, according to lead author of the study Bhuvan Varugu.
The last time Mauna Loa erupted in 1984, lava got within 10 kilometers, or 6 miles, of the outskirts of the city of Hilo, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, though it took weeks to do so.