BIG ISLAND (KHNL) - It's been 25 years since Mauna Loa last erupted. Scientists can't predict when the Big Island volcano will rumble to life again but they are prepared. A lot can be forgotten in 25 years, but geologists are ready for Mauna Loa's next move.
Scientists want to use this silver anniversary to remind island residents that the world's biggest volcano is still active, and based on its past history, is overdue for another eruption.
March 25, 1984 Mauna Loa exploded with great vengeance and furious anger. Lava moved down the mountain covering 15 miles in three days, to an elevation of 3000 feet above Hilo.
"The seismic activity went from a few earthquakes a day to tens of earthquakes a day. Just prior to the outbreak, we had up to hundreds of earthquakes per day," said geologist Frank Trusdell.
Since the eruption, scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in Hilo have increased the number of instruments used to monitor the volcanoes activity. This allows for a quicker response time to any impending danger.
"In the last eruption of Mauna Loa we only had a handful of seismometers and now we have triple that amount we also have GPS receivers which we didn't have prior to the other eruption," said Frank Trusdell
While much of the attention is going to Kilauea these days, it's Mauna Loa posing a bigger threat to life and property.
"For example, the amount of lava that's put out by Kilauea in one day, Mauna Loa put out in 20 minutes in 1984."
About a third of the Big Island's residents were not even born yet in 1984, and more people have moved to the island after Mauna Loa erupted. Many of them might not be aware that it's still is an active volcano.
"There's a large population that was not around during the time of the last eruption in 1984, and we want those people to come out and become educated about Mauna Loa and Mauna Loa's hazards," said Frank Trusdell.
Over the past 2000 years, Mauna Loa has erupted on average, once every ten years. It isn't expected to erupt any time soon, but geologists are ready to warn big island residents if lava will be flowing through their neighborhood.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has been running a series of public programs geared towards educating people about Mauna Loa. The next one will be on Tuesday at 7-pm in the Kilauea Visitors Center Auditorium."