Hawaii officials are warning residents of the Big Island, that Mauna Loa volcano, is sending signals of a possible eruption.

Hawaii officials are warning residents of the Big Island that the world’s largest active volcano, Mauna Loa, is sending signals that it may erupt.

Hawaii’s civil defense agency is hosting meetings across the island to educate residents on how to prepare for a potential emergency. They recommend having a travel bag of groceries, identifying a place to stay once you leave home, and making a plan to meet with family members.

Scientists are on alert due to a recent increase in earthquakes at the top of the volcano. Experts say it would take only a few hours for lava to reach homes closest to the volcano, which last erupted in 1984.

The volcano accounts for 51% of the land mass of the island of Hawaii, so a large part of the island has the potential to be affected by an eruption, Magno said.

Rising 13,679 feet (4,169 meters) above sea level, Mauna Loa is the much larger neighbor of the Kilauea volcano, which erupted in a residential neighborhood and destroyed 700 homes in 2018. Some of its slopes are much steeper than Kilauea’s, so when it erupts, its lava can flow much faster.

During a 1950 eruption, the mountain’s Honokua lava flow traveled 15 miles (24 kilometers) toward the ocean in less than three hours.

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Earthquakes can last for a while before any eruptions: The increase in seismicity lasted a year before the 1975 eruption and a year and a half before the 1984 eruption. Alternatively, tremors could subside and Mauna Loa might not enter into rash this time. There has been a surge of development on the Big Island in recent decades: Its population has more than doubled to 200,000 today from 92,000 in 1980, and many new residents weren’t around when Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago. All the more reason, Magno said officials are spreading the word about the volcano’s science and urging people to be prepared.