(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park issued a news release on Wednesday, after closing two trails in the Kaʻū desert due to the episodic unrest that continues to be observed in the area south of the Kīlauea summit.
From the National Park Service:
Due to episodic unrest in the area south-southwest of Kīlauea caldera, Mauna Iki Trail is closed and the Kaʻū Desert/Footprints Trail is closed past the Footprints exhibit to the Mauna Iki Trail intersection.
The Footprints exhibit remains open and accessible from Highway 11. Kulanaokuaiki Campground is open and Hilina Pali Road is open but is closed to vehicles past the campground to the Hilina Pali Lookout due to elevated fire risk.
The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports that the summit of Kīlauea volcano remains at a high level of inflation and eruptive activity is possible in the coming weeks or months. The unrest is expected to fluctuate as magma moves around the area. Over the past 24 hours, USGS recorded around 86 earthquakes in the Kīlauea summit region. Most of the earthquakes from the seismic swarm south of the caldera are at depths of around 1–3 km (0.6–2 mi) below the surface.
“Safety is always our top priority, and the potential hazards in this region are significant and could include elevated volcanic gases, dangerous lava activity, and damaging earthquakes with very little notice. After any potential eruptive activity occurs, park managers will re-evaluate high hazard areas and access,” said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda Loh.
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is unique among national parks because of the two active volcanoes within its boundaries. Last year, the park closed the summit of Mauna Loa weeks ahead of its historic summit eruption in November. As a result, no one had to be evacuated and no search and rescue missions were necessary.
Park visitors are urged to plan ahead and check the park website for any closure or hazard alerts at nps.gov/hawaiivolcanoes.