It has an estimated volume of 9,600 cubic miles and takes up half the land of Hawaii. It extends about 120 km starting from the southern tip of the island to the northern region. It is 97 km (60 miles) long, 48 km (30 miles) wide, and is 8,742 km (28,680 miles) high from the base on the sea floor to the top. The slopes are steeper than 12 degrees and about 4 degrees at the top of the volcano. Mauna Loa formed about half a million years ago and in the middle stages of forming into a shield volcano where lava flows to form a sloped and broad flat domed volcanic cone. Along with Mauna Kea, the Mauna Loa volcano is responsible for the creation of the Hawaiian Islands.
Mauna Loa has erupted thirty-three times since 1843 and is known as one of the most active volcanoes in the world today. The last eruption was 1984 and lava flowed within 4 miles of the city of Hilo. This shows that it is dangerous to live anywhere near Mauna Loa and that it poses as a threat to anyone living near it because it has a very high possibility of erupting within a very short span of time. Below is a picture of Mauna Loa taken from a bird’s eye view.
Volcanoes can cause damage by spewing lava, but earthquakes before the eruption can also cause damage. These earthquakes open fissures and let magma out to the surface. When the magma exits these fissures, streams of lava up to hundreds of feet can shoot into the air. The picture below shows the lava erupting from the fissures created by the earthquakes in the northeast rift zone on the morning of March 25th, 1984. These eruptions can be of the violent sort and some can be relatively calm. They can last from a couple days or as long as ten months and may be followed by flank eruptions.
The lava flows from Mauna Loa are frequent and high-volume. The long lengths of these flows and the fluidity results in the high velocities of the lava flow on steep slopes. This makes Mauna Loa much more potentially dangerous than other volcanoes. Below is a picture of the 1984 eruption in the northeast rift zone.
Construction of new homes near any active volcano is dangerous and is a major risk to those living there. The lava from the volcano can flow rapidly down the slope and destroy anything in its path; this includes any housing or buildings. With that said, $2. 3 billion dollars since 1984 have been invested in building new homes on the slopes of Mauna Loa. There are about 75,000 people living near Mauna Loa, but the tourist industry has prompt the major investments in construction of housing and other tourist attractions. The major city of Hilo has been an example of the potential risk that living near a volcano can produce pose.
During an eruption in 1984 lava flowed within 4 miles of the city. Precautions have been made to reduce these risks. Ultra sensitive strainmeters and seismometers have been placed in three sites on Mauna Loa. This helps geologists in detecting any volcanic activities early and help in predicting any future eruptions.
This allows the people living near Mauna Loa to have warnings regarding any possible eruptions. There are many things that can be done to reduce or eliminate the risks created by volcanoes. The obvious solution would be to not construct any housing on or near the slopes of Mauna Loa. This would eliminate all threats, but it would also be unlikely. The instruments and equipment that have been installed is an effective way of detecting eruptions and providing possible warnings of those living near the volcano.
On the other hand, these are not 100% accurate and the damage would be inevitable. People living near Mauna Loa and any other volcano should be aware of the risks .