HONOLULU (KHON2) — Mauna Loa remains in a yellow advisory with dozens of small daily earthquakes, a sign that the large volcano could be headed toward eruption.
The unrest began back in July and peaked in September with 40-50 small earthquakes a day. Recently, there have been about 10-20.
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While an eruption is not imminent, officials say there are other signs of unrest.
“We’re continuing to see the same levels of increased rates of inflation at the summit, which is indicative of magma moving into that shallow reservoir of Mauna Loa,” Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geophysicist Andria Ellis said.
Mauna Loa covers about half of the island. It’s a tough challenge for Hawaii County Civil Defense to coordinate what an eruption would do. Still, lava covering one of the island’s many two-lane highways would be tough on residents and first responders.
“Shutting down the main arteries will disrupt life,” Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator Talmadge Magno said. “I went down to lower Puna a couple of weeks ago and roads are still out. They are planned to be reconstructed, but life is returning. So that’s living on an active volcano. These are dynamic, and we have to face this.”
With that, it’s up to residents to have a plan.
“We need to be prepared for that volcano if it does go off and affects communities. But what about the prior stuff? What about the earthquakes?” Big Island resident Marni Renner asked. “If there’s any earthquake are people even prepared for that? Simple things like gas in your car, propane tanks, having an emergency kit or backpack packed for each person in your household.”
There could also be situations where families are separated.
“They need to recognize what their situation is where they’re living, where they’re working with their families to have their activities, especially when they’re, you know, about their daily activities and separated. They need to know how to communicate to the point where, you know, they even have a family plan, maybe a rally site,” Magno said.
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During an eruption, civil defense can rely on HVO maps to pinpoint where flows would go to keep people out of harm’s way and avoid evacuating random large communities if it’s not necessary.
Civil defense and HVO will host a Facebook live Q&A session on Thursday, Dec. 1 from from 6-7 p.m.