Increased seismic activity from one of Hawaii’s – and Earth’s – most active volcanoes led to roughly 320 earthquakes in 24 hours, according to the United States Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
The reported earthquakes beneath the highest point of Kīlauea, which is not erupting as of Friday, began Wednesday as the volcano started showing signs of elevated unrest, according to a USGS news release.
Most of the earthquakes came from the ongoing seismic swarm in a region south of Kilauea’s summit caldera at depths of up to 2 miles beneath the surface, the observatory reported.
Officials said “significant hazards” remained around Halemaʻumaʻu, including “crater wall instability, ground cracking and rockfalls that can be enhanced by earthquakes” in an area closed off from the public.
Inflation, or ground surface swelling, at the summit of Kīlauea has nearly returned to the level seen shortly before the last eruption on September 10, when the volcano erupted for the first time in nearly three months, the USGS said.
A livestream on Friday from the USGS showed small streams of smoke seeping up from the volcano’s Halemaʻumaʻu crater.
While there are no reported eruptions, officials warned of potentially hazardous levels of volcanic gas in downwind areas and rockfalls enhanced by earthquakes.
Sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide levels can remain locally hazardous even though Kīlauea is not erupting, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
The frequency of earthquakes in the area had decreased by Friday at 6 a.m. local time, but officials said seismicity is still considered to be elevated.
Because of the seismic activity and inflation at the summit, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has temporarily closed some trails, viewing areas and parking lots, the National Park Service said Friday.
Kīlauea’s eruption on September 10 ended after six days and “was the briefest of the five eruptions that have occurred at the summit of Kīlauea since 2020,” the USGS said.
Prior to the September eruption, Hawaii’s youngest volcano briefly erupted in June, emitting lava fountain bursts up to 200 feet high, CNN previously reported.