Increased Earthquake Activity Below Kīlauea Volcano Means Outbreak of Lava Possible

May 1, 2018, 8:52 AM HST · Updated May 1, 11:13 AM
Wendy Osher · 6 Comments
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The Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory reports increased shallow earthquake activity in the Puna district below Kīlauea Volcano in the area between Puʻu Oʻo and Highway 130.

For the past month and a half, the crater floor of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō has experienced ongoing uplift, which has generated cracks on the crater floor. These cracks are cutting through both recent lava flows (darker color) and older flows on the crater floor. PC: USGS/HVO April 23, 2018.

Hawaiʻi County officials say this means an outbreak of lava in a new location could occur. While it is not possible to predict where an outbreak could occur, the area east of Puʻu Oʻo is a possible location, according to information compiled by the county.

Due to the increased seismic activity, lower Puna area residents are advised to stay informed by listening to the radio updates.

The Department of Parks & Recreation has also shut down the lava viewing area in Kalapana due to the proximity to the increased hazardous activity.

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“We don’t want people hiking in that area, which is downslope from the rift,” Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Maurice Messina said in a county press release. Vendors were told to vacate the viewing area. Messina noted that the lava viewing area can draw 500 to more than 2,000 visitors, depending on the level of volcanic activity.

Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatories and the Hawaiʻi County Emergency Management Agency continue to monitor the situation.

Earlier this morning, there was a 4.2 (preliminary 4.0) magnitude earthquake reported on the South Flank of the Kīlauea Volcano on Hawaiʻi Island.

On Kīlauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone, the perched lava pond in Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō’s west pit remains active. Additional overflows of the pond levees have been slowly filling the bottom of the west pit and raising the floor. PC: USGS/HVO April 23, 2018.

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Hawaiʻi Volcanoes Observatory scientist-in- charge Christina Neal tells county officials that the collapse of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater floor on Kīlauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone has triggered the increase in earthquake activity and deformation along a large section of the rift zone.

“An outbreak of lava in a new location is one possible outcome,” Neal said in statement. At this time it is not possible to say with certainty if or where such an outbreak may occur, but the area downrift (east) of Puʻu ʻŌʻō is the most likely location, as this is
where seismicity and deformation have been concentrated overnight,” Neal said.

According to the USGS/HVO, a list of the latest earthquakes in the area include the following:

2.6: 19km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-05-01 8:28 a.m.;
2.6: 13km SSE of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-05-01 5:07 a.m.;
3.1: 16km SSW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-05-01 3:12 a.m.;
4.2: 20km SE of Volcano, Hawaiʻi, 2018-05-01 2:39 a.m.;
3.0: 14km SSW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-05-01 2:38 a.m.;
2.9: 9km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-05-01 1:13 a.m.;
2.5: 10km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-05-01 1:07 a.m.;
2.5: 9km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-05-01 12:08 a.m.;
2.5: 10km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 11:46 p.m.;
2.6: 19km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 11:42 p.m.;
3.0: 13km S of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 11:41 p.m.;
2.7: 9km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 11:31 p.m.;
2.7: 10km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 11:26 p.m.;
2.7: 9km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 11:22 p.m.;
2.5: 10km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 11:13 p.m.;
2.7: 15km S of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 11:03 p.m.;
2.6: 17km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 10:34 p.m.;
2.6: 14km S of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 10:02 p.m.;
2.6: 12km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 9:51 p.m.;
2.6: 18km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 9:40 p.m.;
3.0: 12km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 8:26 p.m.;
3.1: 20km S of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 7:49 p.m.;
2.6: 13km SW of Leilani Estates, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 7:39 p.m.;
3.0: 19km S of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 6:40 p.m.;
2.7: 14km SSE of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 6:33 p.m.;
2.6: 13km SSE of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 6:24 p.m.;
2.5: 14km S of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 6:18 p.m.;
2.6: 16km WNW of Volcano, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 5:55 p.m.;
2.7: 13km S of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 5:50 p.m.;
2.5: 14km S of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 5:46 p.m.;
2.5: 14km ESE of Volcano, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 5:19 p.m.;
2.6: 14km S of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 3:52 p.m.;
2.8: 15km S of Fern Acres, Hawaiʻi, 2018-04-30 3:45 p.m.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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