News Release

Living in the shadow of Mauna Loa: A silent summit belies a volcano's forgotten fury

Reports and Proceedings

American Geosciences Institute

Alexandria, Va. — Earth's largest active volcano, Mauna Loa on Hawaii's Big Island, is taking a nap. And after 30 years, no one is sure when the sleeping giant will awaken. Scientists say it's likely to erupt again within the next couple of decades and, when it does, it will be spectacular — and potentially dangerous.

Although Mauna Loa often takes a back seat to the more famous Kilauea, which has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983, history warns us that Mauna Loa's current silence is anomalous. Meanwhile, more people and more buildings pack into potentially hazardous areas: locations where Mauna Loa's lava has reached in the past and likely will reach again. Read more about the steps geologists are already taking — such as upgrading their monitoring tools and talking with the public — to prepare for another eruption of Mauna Loa in the September issue of EARTH Magazine:

For more stories about the science of our planet, check out EARTH magazine online or subscribe at The September issue, now available on the digital newsstand, features stories about a new Neanderthal ancestor found in a Spanish cave, the effect of volcanic ash on Southern Ocean plankton, and a tribute to Nereus, the United States' only full-ocean-depth submersible, which was lost at sea in May, plus much, much more.


Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH magazine online at: Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of 49 geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

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