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Hawaiian Volcano Update: Kīlauea Quakes Escalate

3:02 AM · Aug 25, 2023

Almost 250 earthquakes occurred across all of Kīlauea yesterday, a near-doubling of the already-elevated seismic rates earlier in the week. Most of the shaking is concentrated around the summit, highlighted by 8 quakes between magnitudes 2.5 and 2.8 over the past week. Four earthquake swarms in the south caldera region suggest active magma movement 1-2 miles (2-3 kilometers) beneath the surface. As the volcano continues to inflate at its summit, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory notes that “Kīlauea summit is becoming increasingly pressurized. Similar episodes of earthquake and ground deformation activity occurred in November 2020 and August 2021, prior to eruptions in December 2020 and September 2021.” If the ramp-up continues, this activity could escalate to an eruption within days, but it is equally likely to end without erupting if the volcano is able to stretch enough to accommodate the extra pressure. Similar patterns of near-eruptions have dragged on for months in the past before ultimately breaking through. There is no cause for increased concern for island residents, as there remains no sign of unusual activity in either of the volcano's rift zones or near populated areas. Gas emissions are volcanically-low around 86 tonnes per day, but still sufficient to impact nearby downwind communities as the primary volcanic hazard at this time. Maunaloa's sporadic deep earthquakes still persist as the volcano continues to inflate 9 months after the 2022 eruption. The refilling of its large magma reservoirs is expected following the eruption, with . The low earthquake rates show the larger volcano is not very pressurized, in contrast to Kīlauea. We dive into the recent earthquake patterns and review both similarities and differences between the current earthquake activity on Kīlauea and its 2020 and 2021 pre-eruptive events. As usual, our live presentation reviews the recent changes using monitoring data, imagery and reports courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. We annotate the presentation on-screen and discuss live viewer questions as we go.

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