Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Experience Several Earthquakes

Seismic activity at Kilauea volcano in Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park is on the rise, with 500 earthquakes recorded over the weekend. While this increase in activity often signals an impending eruption, geologists say Kilauea is not currently erupting.

Geologists from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (USGS HVO) reported a “seismic swarm” beginning on June 27, with seismic activity intensifying late Saturday night to about 30 events per hour.

Over 500 earthquakes were detected between Saturday and Sunday beneath Kilauea’s upper East Rift Zone and surrounding areas. Although activity eased slightly on Sunday morning, predicting an eruption remains challenging.

Previous eruptions in this region have occurred near Pauahi Crater and Hi’iaka Crater, with the last event in November 1979. Despite the current increase in seismic activity, the USGS HVO states there are no signs of an imminent eruption. The Volcano Alert Level remains advisory, and the aviation alert-level code is yellow, indicating elevated unrest.

Changes can happen swiftly, and Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, requires continuous monitoring. The last eruption occurred on June 3 from the southwest summit but ceased after several days. There is no indication that magma is moving toward that site.

Meanwhile, scientists are also observing significant seismic activity off the coast of Washington at the Juan de Fuca Ridge. This underwater volcano, located over 16,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean, has experienced a “great swarm” of earthquakes, with as many as 200 quakes in a single hour. This activity, the most since 2005, suggests the volcano could erupt soon, but effects are expected to be mild and not impact land.

The University of Washington’s geologists indicate that the quakes could lead to an eruption within weeks or years, offering valuable data on Earth’s crust formation. The earthquakes detected on March 6 registered a 4.1 magnitude, mild compared to historical damaging quakes.

Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) is collecting data from the site, indicating a possible “impending magmatic rupture.” This rupture would result from two tectonic plates pulling apart, allowing magma to flow out. Although the effects are expected to be local and mild, without triggering tsunamis, the event will provide a real-time glimpse into how Earth’s crust forms.

The ONC’s NEPTUNE monitoring network tracks seismic activity, seafloor tilt, and chemical compositions from vents, enabling scientists to predict volcanic eruptions. Researchers have observed increased earthquake rates over the past few years, suggesting built-up stress at the Endeavour segment. This undersea observatory allows real-time tracking during volcanic events, offering a comprehensive view beyond traditional seismometers.

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