Nov 6, 2008 | 1
It's been nearly 25 years since Mauna Loa, Hawaii's most dangerous volcano, last erupted—but researchers warn that another eruption may be on the horizon. It's nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact date or time the mountain may blow next, but a new technology allows scientists to determine the eruption's location on the slopes of the giant volcano, thereby helping them determine where the lava it spews will go.
Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth, is a so-called shield volcano, which means that lava can rush either from its central crater or its slopes—and in some eruptions from both. If lava shoots out of Mauna Loa's southern or northern rifts, two neighboring villages are at risk of being scorched. When the mountain blew in 1950, lava ran down its southwest side, prompting the evacuation of 75 people and destroying 15 homes near the village of Kona, about 25 miles from the mountain. When it last erupted in 1984, rivers of fiery-hot lava flooded the northeastern side of the mountain, stopping just short of the island of Hawaii's largest city, Hilo (population: approximately 150,000).
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