A U.S. Geological Survey official said that the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii experienced 500 earthquakes in one day.
That figure “is the highest rate ever measured there,” USGS seismologist Brian Shiro said, according to Big Island Video News.
In a statement on its website, the agency explained why there are some many quakes in the Kilauea summit area.
“Deflation at Kīlauea’s summit has caused up to 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) of subsidence, which has stressed the faults around and within Kīlauea Caldera,” the USGS stated (pdf). “This has led to numerous magnitude-3 or greater earthquakes, as well as many more smaller ones. The faults that are being stressed are shallow (likely less than 2 miles deep), so the earthquakes are shallow, which means that they have been widely felt by residents near the summit area.”
It added: “The floor of Kīlauea Caldera continues to subside as pressure in the magma reservoir decreases in response to withdrawal of magma towards the East Rift Zone. This is the same process that caused the summit lava lake to drop out of sight within the “Overlook vent” inside Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.”
Meanwhile, as CNN reported, a 5.5-earthquake hit the summit on Sunday, June 3, which resulted in an ash plume reaching 8,000 feet. The earthquake hit 3:51 p.m. local time and didn’t cause a tsunami threat.
Officials are trying to airlift people out of the area around the volcano if the lava spreads even further, CNN reported. Three people were airlifted out of an isolated area on Sunday, June 3, in the Kapoho community.
“USGS was on a routine overflight and saw people on the road in an area cut off by the lava. They stopped to inquire of their situation, and then when asked, airlifted them to a safe place. They had become trapped after trying to move belongings, and had no cell service,” a statement reads, CNN reported.
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