Scientists on red alert after earthquake near world’s largest active volcano
A 5.0 magnitude earthquake has struck the planet’s largest active volcano and scientists say there is a “state of heightened concern”.
The Mauna Loa volcano, which covers half of Hawaii, experienced a series of tremors, with a magnitude 4.6 earthquake recorded just seconds before the larger one.
The aftershocks, which are still being felt, could continue for weeks, with scientists closely monitoring the increased activity.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said: “Shaking from the larger earthquakes may have been strong enough to cause minor localized damage, particularly to older buildings.
“The two earthquakes occurred within 24 seconds of each other, creating tremors of longer duration and possibly greater intensity than either earthquake would have produced on its own.”
Earthquake activity in the area has increased from five to 10 earthquakes per day since June 2022 to 40 to 50 earthquakes per day in the past two weeks, according to the US Geological Survey.
Peak numbers of over 100 earthquakes per day were recorded on September 23 and September 29.
Increased seismic activity has prompted Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to close the Mauna Loa summit area until further notice.
Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries, but there was some minor damage in the town of Pahala.
Mizuno Superette, Pahala County’s only store, closed for about an hour and a half after the shaking left broken jars on the floor and knocked out power, cashier Lori Tackett said.
She said: “The ground was just shaking, it was a bit scary.”
They confirmed that Mauna Loa is not erupting and there are no signs of an impending eruption.
The observatory added: “This series of earthquakes appears to be associated with realignments along the southeast flank of Mauna Loa volcano.
“In several cases, large earthquakes have preceded past eruptions of Mauna Loa, although they were generally larger than today’s earthquakes.
“It is currently unknown if this series of earthquakes is directly related to the ongoing unrest at Mauna Loa.”
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