THE world's largest volcano is showing signs it could erupt and hundreds have been warned to leave their homes as a precaution.
The Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii has been in a state of “heightened arrest” since September and is now rocked by 50 earthquakes a day.
While scientists said another eruption is unlikely to happen soon, they are closely monitoring the tremors at the volcano's summit, due to the magma buildup under the surface.
Hawaiian authorities of the Big Island have told residents to prepare for the worst, including preparing a "go" bag with food and water, decide on a safe place to take shelter and meet up with close ones.
The administrator for Hawaii County Civil Defense, Talmadge Magno, meanwhile, told families to remain vigilant.
"Not to panic everybody, but they have to be aware of that you live on the slopes of Mauna Loa. There's a potential for some kind of lava disaster".
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Because it account for over 51 per cent of the island's land mass, an eruption could have dramatic impacts on the local residents, Magno said.
Mauna Loa is a "shield volcano" – a type of volcano that is particularly threatening to the surrounding area because it's lava is not viscous and will flow faster and farther.
When Mauna Loa, which sits at 13,679 ft (4,169m) above sea level, erupted in 1950, it took just three hours for the lava to meet the Kona Coast about 30 miles away.
Both the 1950 eruption and another devastating eruption in 1984 were preceded by large earthquakes, giving researchers insight for predicting the volcano's behaviour.
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More than 700 homes were destroyed and thousands of residents were displaced after the major eruption of Mauna Loa's neighbouringKilauea volcano in 2018.
At the time, Kilauea spewed enough lava to fill 320,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
It buried an area more than half the size of Manhattan in up to 80 feet of now-hardened lava.
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