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).
Sep 10, 2008 | 4
New research indicates that Mount Vesuvius' magma chamber is slowly traveling upwards, suggesting that the volcano may not be as hazardous as previously believed.
Vesuvius most famously destroyed the Roman town of Pompeii in a cataclysmic eruption in 79 AD. The blast was so violent that it covered Pompeii in nearly 100 feet of ash. If Vesuvius erupted today, it could kill up to 700,000 people in southern Italy, including the residents of Naples.
The location of Vesuvius' magma reservoir is a major consideration for estimating the dynamics of the molten rock, which helps researchers predict how strong the volcano's next eruption will be. A team of scientists, led by Bruno Scaillet of the CNRS-Université d'Orleans in France, report in Nature today that they analyzed rocks from four major explosions to estimate the temperature and pressure of the magma chamber over time. Their results suggest that Vesuvius' pool of magma has risen about 10 km (6 miles) in the past 20,000 years.
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