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Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano is sending signals it could erupt

On Hawaii's Big Island, officials are paying close attention to the Mauna Loa volcano, saying it's been in a state of "heightened unrest" since the middle of September.

Mauna Loa is the world's largest active volcano, and the number of summit earthquakes has gone up from 10 to 20 per day to 40 to 50 per day, The Associated Press reports. It's believed that more earthquakes are happening because of an increase in magma flowing into the volcano's summit reservoir system.

An eruption is not imminent, but officials are asking residents to prepare for a possible event, as lava could reach the houses closest to to the volcano's vents in just a few hours. Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984, and the Big Island's population has doubled since then. Frank Trusdell, research geologist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told AP that residents should look at his agency's maps that show how fast lava may get to their neighborhood.

"All you got to do is look up there and see the glow," Trusdell said. "You grab your stuff, throw it in the car, and drive. Go!"