(BIVN) – There has been a recent uptick in the number of earthquakes in the summit region of Kīlauea, scientists say, while elsewhere on the volcano, unrest has settled down enough to allow for a reopening in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.
Kīlauea is not erupting and the volcano alert level remains at ADVISORY.
Over the past day, moderate seismicity has returned to the summit region. However, the number of earthquakes in both of Kīlauea’s rift zones has remained low, and on Thursday the National Park Service announced the reopening of Maunaiki Trail in the Kaʻū Desert area.
No unusual activity has been noted along the middle and lower sections of Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone. Scientists continue to say that the volcanic unrest “may continue to wax and wane with fluctuating input of magma to the area, and eruptive activity could occur in the near future with little or no warning.”
From the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Thursday, December 28:
Summit Observations: Moderate seismicity was recorded in Kīlauea’s summit region with 25 earthquakes of less than M2.5 over the past 24 hours, mostly beneath and just south of the caldera. The region southwest of the caldera remains quiet. Cycles of rising and falling shallow seismic activity can be expected to continue during repressurization of the summit magma reservoir, which has been ongoing since the end of the September eruption. Seismicity has not reached the levels that immediately preceded recent summit eruptions at Kīlauea.
The summit tiltmeter began recording deflationary tilt yesterday evening associated with a new DI event. Kīlauea’s summit region remains at a high level of inflation; relative tilt is above the level reached prior to the most recent eruption in September 2023, and it is higher than at any time since the 2018 eruption.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas emission rates remain low. Field measurements indicated an SO2 emission rate of approximately 70 tonnes per day on December 5, which was similar to measurements in October and November.
There are currently no signs of an imminent eruption at Kīlauea, but the volcano’s summit region remains unsettled, with a high level of inflation and continued seismic activity. Seismicity and deformation in the area southwest of the caldera between the December 1974 vents and the Koʻae fault has diminished significantly over the past month greatly reducing the likelihood of an eruption in this area. The onsets of previous summit eruptions have been marked by strong swarms of earthquakes caused by magma moving towards the surface 1–2 hours before the appearance of lava. This type of earthquake activity is not being detected at this time.