Mauna Loa declared at rest — for now
By Peter Sur
HILO — Mauna Loa has become a resting giant again — for now.
Volcanologists at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Tuesday lowered the alert level from "advisory" to "normal."
The lowest of the four alert-levels, normal means that the world's most massive volcano has entered a "noneruptive background state." This followed several years of heightened seismic activity and inflation caused by an intrusion of magma into the volcano's plumbing.
"In 2006, the rate of inflation of Mauna Loa slowed, and eventually, by October 2009, it appeared to have stopped," HVO geologist Janet Babb said yesterday.
But volcanologists are not taking their eye off Mauna Loa, Babb said.
Yesterday, a crew was on the mountain re-measuring all of the temporary GPS sites. And Babb emphasized that the "normal" status could be upgraded to advisory levels at any moment.
"It's a volcano. It's still classified as an active volcano, and an active volcano can change," Babb said.
Mauna Loa's pause in activity will reach 26 years in mid-April. It is already the longest stretch without an eruption in recorded history.
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