KILAUEA, Hawaii’s infamous volcano, is showing signs of activity, with a swarm of more than 140 earthquakes triggering concerns that it could be stirring into life once more, three years after months of eruptions resulted in massive disruption.
The volcano, located in the south-east of Hawaii’s Big Island, made worldwide headlines in 2018 after a sustained period of eruptive activity saw vast quantities of molten lava, of magma, expelled, destroying hundreds of homes and making thousands of people homeless. A warning issued by Hawaii Volcano Observatory at 5.34am HST (4.34pm GMT) raised the alert level from Watch to Advisory, as well as the Aviation Colour Code from Yellow to Orange.
An HVO statement said: “Kilauea volcano is not erupting.
“A swarm of earthquakes beneath the south part of Kilauea caldera, within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, began on the evening of August 23, 2021.
“The swarm continues into the early morning hours of August 24 with a particularly strong sequence of earthquakes that occurred at about 1.30am, HST.”
The onset of the earthquake swarm coincided with a change in the style of ground deformation at tiltmeters in the Kilauea summit region, which may indicate the shallow movement of magma beneath the surface, HVO explained.
The statement added: “The US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is raising the volcano alert level/aviation colour code for Kilauea from Advisory/Yellow to Watch/Orange due to this activity.
“HVO will continue to monitor this activity closely and adjust the alert level accordingly.
“HVO is in constant communication with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as this situation evolves.
“The activity is confined entirely within the park.”
As of 4.30am, more than 140 earthquakes had been recorded, the largest of which had a magnitude of 3.3, with most less than one on the scale.
Small earthquakes are continuing at a rate of at least 10 detected earthquakes per hour.
Currently, webcams and satellite imagery show no evidence of lava at the surface.
HVO scientists will continue the monitor the situation and will issue additional messages and alert level changes as warranted by changing activity.
HVO is one of five volcano observatories within the US Geological Survey, and is responsible for monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawaii.
Speaking to Express.co.uk in June, 2018, Big Island Mayor Harry Kim said he and his team had always known there was a possibility of an eruption on a massive scale
They had therefore put contingency plans in place which had minimised the disruption to people living on the island, which has a population of 200,000.
Nevertheless, at the time when he was speaking, more than 650 homes – including one which he himself owned – had been destroyed by lava, with more than 2,000 evacuated from the vicinity, 600 of whom are living in temporary shelters.