Maui News

Ash Fallout from Kīlauea Eruption Low for Kaʻū and South Kona

December 21, 2020, 9:22 AM HST

A steam and gas plume from the eruption in Halemaʻumaʻu crater at Kīlauea summit. Lava contained within the crater illuminates the steam produced by the lava interacting with, and boiling off, the summit water lake that resided in the base of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. USGS photo.

The Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency says ash fallout from the eruption at Kīlauea is low for Kaʻū and South Kona.

This comes after the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported an eruption last night at the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater of the Kīlauea Volcano. An earthquake measuring a magnitude of 4.4 was centered in the vicinity of the South Flank of Kīlauea was also recorded, but it posed no tsunami threat to the islands.

The HVO reports the quake was located beneath Kīlauea Volcano’s south flank on Sunday, December 20, at 10:36 p.m. 

The earthquake was centered about 14 km (8.7 miles) south of Fern Forest, near the Hōlei Pali area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at a depth of 6 km (4 miles).

The USGS “Did you feel it?” website received over 500 felt reports within the first hour of the earthquake.  


HVO acting Scientist-in-Charge David Phillips said, “HVO continues to monitor Kīlauea as the situation is rapidly evolving.” He said the agency will send out further notifications as changes are observed.


Kīlauea’s south flank has been the site of over 30 earthquakes of magnitude-4.0 or greater during the past 20 years. The HVO reports that most are caused by abrupt motion of the volcano’s south flank, which moves to the southeast over the oceanic crust.

The location, depth, and waveforms recorded as part of Sunday’s earthquake are consistent with motion along the south flank detachment fault, according to the HVO.

Captured during the first few hours of the summit eruption which started on Dec. 20. USGS GIF by L. DeSmither.
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