An earthquake struck the world’s largest volcano this afternoon, but there’s no damage or tsunami threat from the seismic activity happening at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa. Initially reported as a 4.1 magnitude event, USGS says the revised 3.9 magnitude earthquake struck at 5:04 pm local time (11:04 pm ET) along the southeast flank of the giant volcano. While more than 40 people used the “Did you feel it?” tool on the USGS website to report feeling the earthquake on Hawaii’s Big Island, there have been no reports of any damage. Additionally, because the quake was mild and was away from water, there was no tsunami threat from this seismic event.
Today’s activity at the giant volcano provides a break in the otherwise quiet period the volcano has been in since its last eruption ended in December. Mauna Loa erupted to life on the evening of November 28 and continued through to December 10, dazzling people on Hawaii’s Big Island with fountains and rivers of lava. While the lava cut off access to science facilities on the volcano, no other infrastructure, homes, or businesses were harmed by the 2022 lava flows.
According to USGS, Mauna Loa has been quiet for the past three months since the last eruption was declared over on December 13, 2022. In an update released just days ago, USGS said the number of earthquakes beneath Mauna Loa’s summit returned to background levels while it appears inflation of Mauna Loa continues as magma replenishes the summit magma chamber. Because of how quiet things are, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) lowered the Volcano Alert Level for ground-based hazards from ADVISORY to NORMAL and the Aviation Color Code from YELLOW to GREEN on March 16.
Mauna Loa is considered the largest active volcano on Earth, rising to 13,681 feet above sea level. Mauna Loa rises up from the ocean floor of the Central Pacific at a depth of about 3 miles. Because of the volcano’s significant mass, the ocean floor directly beneath Mauna Loa is depressed by another 5 miles. According to USGS, this places Mauna Loa’s summit about 56,000 feet above its base; the enormous volcano covers half of the island of Hawaii, also known simply as the “Big Island of Hawaii.”
Hawaii’s other very active volcano, Kilauea, is also not erupting at this time . The summit eruption of Kilauea volcano, within Halemaʻumaʻu crater, remains paused and lava is no longer flowing on the crater floor. HVO says that the resumption of eruptive activity may occur in the near future with little or no warning, but no significant changes have been observed along either of the volcano’s rift zones. Like its neighboring volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, Mauna Loa, Kilauea is at a NORMAL alert level and a YELLOW aviation color code.
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