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The Mountain of Blue Fire

Nature has a way of continually surprising us and inspiring awe within us, and it seems there are just as many fantastical wonders t...


Where will Mauna Loa erupt?

HAWAII - It's been nearly 25 years since Mauna Loa, Hawaii's most dangerous volcano, last erupted — but researchers warn that another eruption may be on the horizon. Two bulges are grwoing on the flanks of Mauna Loa. The lumps indicate subterranean magma pressing against the surface. Researchers reported last year that the bump on the southwestern side of the mountain had risen eight inches (20 centimeters) in just three years. It's nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact date or time the mountain may blow next, but a new technology allows scientists to determine the eruption's location on the slopes of the giant volcano, thereby helping them determine where the lava it spews will go. Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth, is a so-called shield volcano, which means that lava can rush either from its central crater or its slopes—and in some eruptions from both. If lava shoots out of Mauna Loa's southern or northern rifts, two neighboring villages are at risk of being scorched. When it last erupted in 1984, rivers of fiery-hot lava flooded the northeastern side of the mountain, stopping just short of the island of Hawaii's largest city, Hilo (population: approximately 150,000). For the last few years, Mauna Loa has been inflating at slow rates.

Kilauea volcano - Since March 12, "sulfur dioxide emissions from a new gas vent in Halemaumau Crater have affected residents with respiratory problems, caused voluntary evacuations, and caused significant damage to agricultural farms and ranches. The emissions have also caused concern for the long-term effects on health, water quality and agriculture."

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ETHIOPIA - The Dalla Filla volcano in a remote area of northeastern Ethiopia erupted this week, spewing lava over tens of square miles in THE BIGGEST VOLCANIC ERUPTION IN THE COUNTRY'S RECORDED HISTORY. Ethiopian researchers working with scientists in the U.K. first detected the eruption on Nov. 3. Officials have been sent to the Afar region to investigate the explosion, which was of a similar magnitude to eruptions of Mount Etna in Italy in May. "We have NEVER HEARD OF ANYONE OBSERVING ANYTHING LIKE THIS HERE. People heard loud noises and explosions from a distance and saw smoke and felt the ground shake." It's the third eruption in Ethiopia's Afar region since 2005. A number of the world's best-known fossils have been discovered in Afar, including one of the earliest ancestors of man, known as Lucy.

Shiveluch, Russia's northernmost active volcano, is emitting ash to a height of 4000 meters (13000 feet). Shiveluch, on the Kamchatka Peninsula, last erupted in December 2006 and has been active ever since with the volcano spewing out gas and ash up to 8,000 meters (26,000 feet). The local seismological service reported registering nearly 170 tremors within the area in the past 24 hours. According to specialists, the volcanic activity over the past two-three years has significantly altered the contour of the volcano with the crater increasing in size by 50% and the slopes becoming far steeper than previously. The volcanic eruption poses no threat to Kamchatka settlements, although the clouds of volcanic ash are causing problems for air traffic.
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