Lö'ihi rises 10,100 feet above the ocean floor to within 3,100 feet of the water surface.Recent detailed mapping shows Lö'ihi to be similar in form to Kïlauea and Mauna Loa. In fact, since 1959 the HVO seismic network has recorded large earthquake swarms at Lö'ihi during 1971-1972, 1975, 1984-1985, 1990-1991, and 1996, suggesting major submarine eruptions or magma intrusions into the upper part of Lö'ihi.Pinatubo was heavily eroded, inconspicuous and obscured from view.
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Pillow-lava fragments dredged from Lö'ihi have fresh glassy crusts, indicative of their recent formation. The intense 1996 earthquake activity at Lö'ihi launched two "rapid-response" expeditions in August-September by University of Hawai'i scientists to conduct onsite observations of the activity.
The exact ages of the sampled Lö'ihi flows are not yet known, but certainly some cannot be more than a few hundred years old. This included surface-ship bathymetric surveys and a series of manned-submersible dives to make closeup observations and collect lava samples.
If the hot-spot theory is correct, the next volcano in the Hawaiian chain should form east or south of the Island of Hawai'i.
Abundant evidence indicates that such a new volcano exists at Lö'ihi, a seamount (or submarine peak) located about 20 miles off the south coast.
Predictions at the onset of the climactic eruption led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the surrounding areas, saving many lives.