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Volcanic bulge could pinpoint next eruption

Hawaii, USA

Radar satelite images show the swelling in Mauna Loa's flanks(Image:University of Miami)
May 17, 2007
The world's largest volcano is bulging and the swelling could help pinpoint where the Hawaiian volcano will erupt next, researchers say.
The finding could save lives by helping officials to plan evacuations of residents living on the volcano's flanks, although the researchers are no closer to predicting when an eruption will occur.
Falk Amelung at the University of Miami, US, and colleagues used satellite radar imagery to monitor two bulges on the flank of Mauna Loa in Hawaii between 2002 and 2005. They tried to pinpoint what was causing the swelling using computer models of the volcano.
Mauna Loa is a shield volcano, meaning it erupts from rifts in its flanks, rather than out through a crater at the top.
The volcano has two long fractures in its crust that extend down from the summit around the south-west rift zone, from which magma can flow during eruptions. The bulges, which have been swelling since May 2002, are 15 kilometres across and 20 centimetres high.

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