Science: A Case of Earthly Indigestion

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A third potentially dangerous volcano seems to be settling down. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory had been predicting that a 1975 eruption of Mauna Loa, the monstrous volcano responsible for forming the 50th state's largest island, was the precursor of a major eruption, due some time before July 1978. Their warning spurred officials in Hilo, the island's economic and transportation center, to improve their disaster planning. The 1978 prediction may prove premature. According to Gordon Eaton, head of the volcano observatory, volcanic activity on the mountain seems to be subsiding.

Volcanologists have been getting better at predicting when eruptions will occur. But as French Volcanologists Maurice and Katia Krafft caution in their book Volcano (Abrams; 1975), science still does not know enough about these openings in the earth to say with certainty that any of them, even the oldest, is extinct.

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