Seismic Swarm of Quakes Reported Near Kilauea

February 23, 2012, 9:58 AM HST · Updated February 23, 9:59 AM
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3.2 Earthquake 2/22/12. Map courtesy, USGS.

By Wendy Osher

A swarm of small earthquakes were reported near the summit of Kilauea yesterday with more than 60 tremors documented over a 14 hour period.

The seismic swarm included 14 quakes larger than magnitude 2. The largest was a 3.2 reported just before 7 a.m.on Wednesday, February 22, 2012.

A Press Release from the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory indicates that seismic swarms in the area have sometimes heralded changes in Kilauea’s ongoing east rift zone eruption.

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As of yesterday afternoon though, scientists had not detected any apparent changes resulting from the swarm.

Previous swarms, officials say, have lasted from one day to several weeks, with quakes rarely exceeding magnitude 4.

Officials at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say the swarm began at around 1:17 a.m. on Wednesday, and was ongoing as of 3 p.m. the same afternoon.

The earthquakes were located about 3 miles north-northwest of Kilauea volcano’s summit, near Namakanipaio in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, at depths of 1 to 3 miles.

According to the USGS, the earthquakes occurred along the Ka‘oiki Pali, a fault near the boundary between Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes.  This area has experienced activity since the magnitude 6.6 Ka‘oiki earthquake that occurred in November 1983.

***Supporting information courtesy USGS and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

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