KAILUA-KONA (AP) - A Hawaii Volcano Observatory geologist stressed the importance of preparing for when the world's largest active volcano erupts again.
While Mauna Loa may not appear ready to erupt anytime soon, Big Island residents should be ready, said geologist Frank Trusdell, of the U.S. Geological Survey.
It's most recent eruption three decades ago sent lava within 4.5 miles of Hilo. It will erupt again, Trusdell said, but the question is when.
Dozens of people packed the Ocean View Community Center in Kau for the geologist's presentation titled, "Mauna Loa: How Well Do You Know the Volcano in Your Backyard," West Hawaii Today reported Friday.
Scientists estimate that depending on the location of Mauna Loa's eruption, it would take lava three hours to reach the South Kona shoreline. Lava would reach the shoreline below Kau's Hawaiian Ocean View Estates subdivision in nearly 30 hours. It would take eight days to reach Kiholo Bay and about 280 days to reach Hilo Bay.
The USGS recommends families living on or near Mauna Loa keep updated on the volcano's hazards and develop a family emergency plan.
"Mauna Loa puts out lots of lava and has a steep slope, and if you don't heed the warning, you're going to end up in trouble," he said.
Trusdell said the answer to when Mauna Loa will erupt appears to be inversely correlated to eruptive periods at Kilauea, which has been erupting since 1983.
Mauna Loa can pump out more lava than Kilauea. Mauna Loa can put out 12 million cubic meters per day, Trusdell said, while Kilauea erupts 0.2 to 0.5 million cubic meters daily.
The Big Island is made up of five volcanoes: Kohala, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Hualalai and Kilauea.