There are growing concerns on Hawaii’s Big Island as officials monitor the Mauna Loa Volcano for “heightened unrest.”

Mauna Loa is the world’s largest active volcano. State officials have been monitoring its activity since September. The main reason for increased monitoring is the number of earthquakes has gone up from 10 to 20 per day to 40 to 50, the Associated Press reports.  

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Scientists believe more earthquakes are happening because there’s an increase in magma flowing into the volcano’s summit reservoir system, according to The Week. 

Getting The Word Out

State leaders are telling residents that while they are not trying to cause panic, it’s vital that everyone stays informed.

“They have to be aware that [if] you live on the slopes of Mauna Loa, there’s a potential for some kind of lava disaster,” Talmadge Magno, the administrator for Hawaii County Civil Defense, said tells the Associated Press.

The volcano, rising 13,679 feet above sea level, hasn’t erupted since 1984. It could cause catastrophic damage if it erupts, making up at least 51% of the island’s landmass.

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Mauna Loa is larger than the Kilauea volcano, which destroyed more than 700 homes after erupting in 2018. One huge concern is the population on the Big Island has more than doubled since its last eruption in 1984. More than 200,000 people live on the Big Island compared to 92,000 in the 1980s.