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Settling volcano results in unsettling jolts

Hawaii's snow-capped Mauna Loa is blamed for deep-sea earthquakes and making "the Big Island" sink more quickly.

May, 2007
HONOLULU — The Hawaii earthquakes that resulted in more than $200 million in damage in October were caused by continued settling of Mauna Loa, the world's largest volcano, seismologists have concluded.
New studies confirmed that the magnitude-6.7 and -6 deep-sea earthquakes resulted from stress the growing volcano put on the crust of the Earth's upper mantle, said Fred Klein, a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey's Western Region Earthquake Hazards team in Menlo Park, Calif.
"As long as the volcano continues to grow in size and depresses the land under it, more earthquakes are possible," Klein said.
Scientists have long suspected that the weight of the 13,679-foot mountain on the island of Hawaii, and not eruptive activity or movement of underground lava, was behind many of the deep-sea earthquakes in Hawaiian history.
"These last earthquakes confirmed it," Klein said. "When we plotted the location and compression directions of all the earthquakes, they all had little arrows pointed right at Mauna Loa."

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