HILO, Hawaii - The U.S. Geological Survey said it has detected an increase in seismic activity on Hawaii’s Big Island that is associated with unrest of the Kilauea volcano.
The mountain is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth and has produced off-and-on cycles of lava since Sept. 29, 2021.
Volcanologists stress that despite hundreds of minor earthquakes, the volcano is not actively erupting. However, changes in terrain resemble periods with increased activity.
"Inflationary tilt is continuing at a slightly slower rate in the area just south of the summit caldera," the UGS stated. "Inflation at the summit of Kīlauea remains close to its highest level in over 5 years and has nearly returned to the level seen just before the last eruption on September 10th. Seismicity beneath Kīlauea summit region, which began October 4, increased with about 320 earthquakes occurring in the last 24 hours."
Kilauea volcano camera on 10-7-2023 (USGS / FOX Weather)
Due to the potential dangers associated with the seismic activity, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has closed some parking areas and trails that are in the general vicinity of the summit.
"Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is closely monitoring Kīlauea in collaboration with our colleagues at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory," the National Park Service said. "The park is currently open, but visitors should be prepared and stay informed."
Outside the national park, there have been no other reported impacts from the increased activity associated with the volcano.
"Sulfur dioxide gas emissions have greatly decreased; however, local concentrations of sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide may persist in downwind areas, and residents may notice odors of these gases occasionally," the USGS stated.
The volcano is more than 100 miles from Honolulu, which has a population of about 350,000. An eruption in 2018 destroyed more than 700 homes and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
The last time a significant episode of lava was witnessed coming from the volcano was in September. Video captured a spectacular fountain of lava emerging from the crater, but impacts were limited to the national park.
Other nearby volcanoes, such as Mauna Kea, Hualalai and Mauna Loa, are all at normal status.