The U.S. Geological Survey is keeping a close eye on a Hawaiian volcano following a series of small earthquakes in the region.
The U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) has raised the volcano alert from advisory to watch for Kilauea, located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
More than 140 earthquakes have been detected since early Tuesday morning beneath the southern part of the Kilauea summit caldera, the HVO said in an advisory. The largest earthquake was magnitude 3.3, with the majority of them less than magnitude 1.
The HVO said the earthquakes are continuing at about 10 per hour. This activity may indicate an intrusion of magma, the advisory said.
“Currently, webcams and satellite imagery show no evidence of lava at the surface,” the advisory said. “Scientists will continue to monitor the situation and will issue additional messages and alert level changes as warranted by changing activity.”
The change in watch status means there is a heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption and an uncertain time frame.
HVO scientist in charge Ken Hon told West Hawaii Today that the earthquakes are a significant increase from normal activity in the region.
“We’ve been picking up a steady drumbeat all day,” Hon said Tuesday.
Something similar happened last December when Kilauea had a small eruption. A glow was detected inside the crater following a similar series of earthquakes below the volcano.
Kilauea also erupted in 2018, destroying more than 700 homes and forcing evacuations in the region.
So far, there has been no evidence of lava at the surface in the current situation. The HVO will issue daily updates until the situation changes, or the alert is returned to a lower status.
“There’s no indication of lava moving anywhere outside the caldera system,” Hon said. “There’s no quakes in the East Rift Zone at the moment at all.”
Those interested in following the situation can observe Kilauea in a series of live webcams hosted by the U.S. Geological Service. Photos, maps, and frequently asked questions about Kilauea are also available on the advisory page.