Monday, November 11, 2019

Large Quake Swarm At Iceland's Askja Volcano


A large quake sequence totalling hundreds of tremors is ongoing at Askja volcano since 11/9/2019. The largest quake so far has been a magnitude 3.2 quake. The swarm appears to be on the NE margin of the main caldera in an area that has in the past issued lava flows through fissures. There is no clear answer from the Iceland Meteorological Office or other sources as to whether or not this is magmatic or tectonic in nature.

Blogger Jon Frimann seems to indicate the swarm is tectonic, while seems to suggest this is related to magma dike intrusion. Again, no official source has confirmed any of this.

Screen grab from Iceland Meteorological Office showing current state of swarm at Askja caldera.

Askja caldera has seen dramatically increased seismicity since the eruption of Bardarbunga (Holuhraun fissure) commenced and ended and has had minor seismicity daily since. The last eruption of Askja was a VEI 2 occurring in Oct 1961, however it has proven capable of much, much larger eruptions, with a VEI 5 on New Years of 1875. Any current eruptive cycle would likely be a VEI 2 or 3, depending on the interactions with water/ice and magma supply.

Quake swarms and dike intrusions often amount to no activity on the surface of a volcano, so until the Iceland Met Office chimes in with an official prognosis, anything should be considered speculative at this point, however this is indeed a dramatic rise in activity even from the rise in activity post-Bardarbunga. The Bardarbunga dike intrusion has been theorized by some to have affected or influenced the Askja system, so it's anyone's guess at this point.

An eruption of Askja will not likely threaten any population in Iceland, but as seen with Grimsvotn and Eyjafjallajökull, it could conceivably pose a threat to air travel around Europe.

*****UPDATE 11/12/2019*****

The swarm is still ongoing at this time. Volcano Discovery has updated their news feed to include the following report (although take it with a grain of salt as there is still no official word out of Iceland regarding the quake sequence):

"An swarm of earthquakes is occurring near the Askja caldera, in an area approx. 10 km ENE from the rim and at depths around 5 km. More than 550 small quakes have been recorded during the past 5 days, but so far, most quakes have been tiny. The largest events were two shocks with magnitudes 3.2 and 3.4, felt by local residents. The swarm is likely caused by an intrusion of magma into an underground fissure (dike), which could but not necessarily must (and most often does not) lead to an eruption."

Today's largest tremors have been around the 2.5 range, with most quakes much smaller.

*****UPDATE 2 - 11/12/2019*****
The Iceland Meteorological Office has issued the following statement, which more closely suggests that this is tectonic - not volcanic - in nature:

"Specialist remark

An earthquake swarm started the 7th of November just east of Askja volcano and is still ongoing. Around 700 earthquakes have been recorded in the area since the swarm started. The largest earthquake was about M3.4 and occurred on the 9th of November. In addition to that earthquake, one earthquake > M3.0 has been detected during the swarm until now. No volcanic tremor has been detected in the area. This is more like brittle type tectonic earthquakes related to continental drift. Earthquake swarms occur regularly around Herðubreið and Askja. The IMO is monitoring the activity 24/7.

Written by a specialist at 12 Nov 17:11 GMT"

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Small Quake Swarm SW Of Mount Hood


A small seismic sequence of quakes is occurring on the SW flank of Mount Hood, Oregon today, with the largest quakes registering at magnitude 2.1. Around 60 quakes (at the time of this writing) have been registered so far. USGS CVO reports that this is likely purely tectonic in nature and is not the result of magma movement.

"On the afternoon of July 8, 2019 a swarm of small earthquakes started near Mount Hood, Oregon. As of 11:00 AM PDT on July 9, the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network has located more than 30 earthquakes, all occurring about 1 mile ENE of Government Camp and about 5 miles south of the Mount Hood summit. The earthquakes are relatively shallow (2-3 miles) and are likely too small (maximum magnitude 2.1) to be felt. Swarms in this area have occurred multiple times over the past two decades, most recently in 2014, with the largest event being a M 2.9 on September 14, 2001.

The largest event ever recorded near Mount Hood was a M 4.5 on June 29, 2002, at a location 3 miles south of the summit. Based on similarity to past seismic sequences near Mount Hood and on past studies of seismicity in the Mount Hood area, we infer that these earthquakes are occurring on tectonic faults and are not directly related to volcanic processes occurring beneath Mount Hood. Mount Hood earthquake map: PNSN TDH webicorder"

Mount Hood, along the Cascades arc of volcanoes, was last confirmed to have erupted in 1865 with an unconfirmed eruption in 1869, according to the Smithsonian GVP.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Large Quake Sequence Hits Southern California

A large sequence of temblors is striking Southern California at the moment. This sequence so far is tectonic, not volcanic in origin, however it is striking very close to two dormant volcanic fields: The Coso Volcanic Field, and the Lava Mountains Volcanic Field.

The first major temblor, a magnitude 6.4 quake, spawned many aftershocks along the adjascent fault lines on 7/4/2019, and the second, larger shock struck at very shallow depth to the NW, at a magnitude of 7.1. Multiple aftershocks have since occurred, closer to the epicenters of the Coso Volcanic field, with the largest so fat at magnitude 5.5.

What this means for the area is not known. If this is purely a tectonic sequence, not much damage should occur outside of the immediate area. The Coso Volcanic Field has active geothermal power plants, and a few military installations.

The last identified eruptive period in this area was some 33,000 years ago, although suspected Holocene centers are inferred through morphology. It is tough to gauge the age of these volcanoes due to the desert climate, which can make older volcanism look younger than it actually is.

Google Earth screenshot with USGS quake overlay, and my volcano database.

More, larger quakes are possible. As has been theorized in the past, large quakes at the Southern end of the San Andreas fault line can propagate to the NW, creating a chain of events, although it is far too soon to see if this is the case.

Earthquakes, fault lines, and volcanic systems can and have interacted with each other in the past, however, given the age of the last eruption at the Coso Volcanic Field, an eruption still remains highly unlikely to occur. 

Residents in the vicinity should check their preparedness plans, and have an evacuation kit ready, if necessary, in the event of a larger quake.

Scientists in CA have long stated that CA is locked and loaded for 'The Big One" a quake of 8.0-9.0 in magnitude - and have advised that people have a plan in case of this event. California on average has had a large quake of 8.0 or more every 100 years or so, and for this, they are overdue.

It is important to note that USGS requires ample time to study each significant event, review the waveforms, and study factors like depth, whether these are purely fault slips, and whether subsequent events are purely tectonic in nature. No conclusions can be reached until all the data is in. Again, it is unlikely that this sequence would result in an eruption of nearby volcanic systems, but this is not unprecedented.

******UPDATE 7/8/2019*****

USGS CALVO Released the following statement regarding the Coso Volcanic Field:

"July 06, 2019 An earthquake swarm started on the evening of July 5 at the southern margin of Coso Volcanic Field in Inyo County, California. The swarm activity was triggered by a magnitude M5.4 earthquake at 9:19 PM PDT located 20 km (~20 miles) ESE of Little Lake, which itself was likely an aftershock of the M7.1 earthquake that occurred about an hour earlier 17 km NNE of Ridgecrest, and south of the Coso area. An average of about 30 earthquakes per hour have been detected since, most within the range of magnitude M1 to M3. No ground deformation indicative of volcanic activity has been detected, and there is no imminent threat of an eruption. The California Volcano Observatory will continue to monitor the situation for any sign of volcanic activity and provide updates as warranted.

The Coso Volcanic Field is located on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains at the northern end of the Mojave Desert, about 64 km (~40 miles) north of Ridgecrest. The field covers about 150 square miles primarily within the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, and is comprised of lava domes, lava flows, and cinder cones erupted over the past 250,000 years. The most recent eruption was about 40,000 years ago."

Many large earthquakes have hit California in it's very long history. While this can and does create a lot of quake activity near the field, the 'crystal mush' in the magma chamber would still need fresh injection of magma into its chamber to trigger an eruption.

While Coso is not a good candidate for eruption, other volcanoes around the world remain 'primed', or close to an eruption, and a large earthquake sequence could indeed initiate an eruptive event. One such volcano is Mt. Fuji in Japan, which, according to Japanese authorities, is pressurized, and a large earthquake along its intersecting fault line could weaken the pressure on the chamber, thus causing an eruption. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Stromboli Has Large Explosion, One Confirmed Dead


A large eruption has left one tourist dead, and several injured, also prompting evacuations on the island of Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands in Italy. Stromboli has frequent minor eruptions, but reports indicate this was a paroxysmal eruption with large amounts of ash fall. Lava emission was reported from all five summit vents preceding the explosive activity.

A large plume and pyroclastic flow seen from neighboring area. 
Photo credit Amelia Morris

According to some reports, two large explosions and over two dozen smaller ones have occurred. Hot ash fall caused several wildfires, and local firemen responded. Boats from neighboring islands have been making their way to assist with the evacuation of the town of Ginostra on the WSW side of the island, where tourists were reportedly hiding in the ocean to escape the hot ash.

Residents on the nearby island of Panarea reported fear of tsunami, and evacuating to higher elevations, however no tsunami was generated by this event.

This is possibly the largest explosive event on Stromboli since the year 2007, however the volcano has been in continuous eruption since Feb 2, 1934, according to the Smithsonian GVP. The activity appears to have declined dramatically after the large explosions and is apparently returning to 'normal' at this time.

Known widely as "The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean", the volcano has reliably lit up the night sky with explosive lava fountains and lava emissions throughout most of historical time, and is a reliable place to witness an active volcanic eruption. Strombolian eruptions are named for the volcano and is used as a baseline comparison for similar eruptive events at similar volcanoes.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

HVO Raises Mauna Loa Alert Level To Yellow (Watch)


The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) raised the alert code to yellow (advisory) and the aviation code for Mauna Loa today to Yellow due to increased rates of inflation and seismicity under the summit and Soutwhest Rift zone. Deformation data since the end of the Kilauea eruption shows a steady increase in inflation.

Screengrab from HVO's Mauna Loa monitoring page.

HVO reports:

"For the past several months, earthquake and ground deformation rates at Mauna Loa Volcano have exceeded long term background levels. An eruption is not imminent and current rates are not cause for alarm. However, they do indicate changes in the shallow magma storage system at Mauna Loa.

Following a significant earthquake swarm in October 2018, HVO seismic stations have recorded an average of at least 50 shallow, small-magnitude earthquakes per week beneath Mauna Loa's summit, upper Southwest Rift Zone, and upper west flank. This compares to a rate of fewer than 20 per week in the first half of 2018. Shallow earthquakes are occurring in locations similar to those that preceded Mauna Loa's most recent eruptions in 1975 and 1984.

During this same time period, GPS instrumentation and satellite radar have measured ground deformation consistent with renewed recharge of the volcano's shallow magma storage system. The current rate and pattern of ground deformation is similar to that measured during inflation of Mauna Loa in 2005 and again from 2014 - 2018.

Together, these observations indicate the volcano is no longer at a background level of activity. Accordingly, HVO is elevating the Mauna Loa alert level to ADVISORY and the aviation color code to YELLOW.

Alert levels and aviation color codes are explained here: 

This increase in alert level does not mean that an eruption is imminent nor that progression to an eruption is certain. A similar increase in activity occurred between 2014 and 2018 and no eruption occurred."

Mauna Loa, towering over Kilauea, is one of the most active volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii, and last erupted in 1984 in conjunction with resumed activity from Kilauea, however it has been dormant (but restless) since then.

An eruption from Mauna Loa could put structures at risk, due to it being one the of the largest shield volcanoes in the world, coupled with fast moving basaltic lavas.

Footage of previous Mauna Loa Eruption

HVO continues:


As has happened before, it is possible that current low-level unrest will continue and vary in intensity for many months, or even years without an eruption. It is also possible that the current unrest is an early precursor to an eventual eruption. At this time, we cannot determine which of these possibilities is more likely.

HVO expects that days or weeks prior to an eruption, monitoring instruments will detect signs of an increased potential for eruption. These signs could include further increases in rates of earthquakes and ground deformation, increases in the sizes of earthquakes, an increase in surface temperatures, or an increase in visible steam plumes or sulfur dioxide emissions.

However, it is also possible that the timeframe to eruption could be shorter - hours to days. All communities on the flanks of the volcano should be prepared.

HVO continues to monitor the volcano closely and will report any significant changes. HVO is in close touch with Hawaii County Civil Defense and other agencies responsible for public safety.

Stay informed about Mauna Loa by following volcano updates and tracking current monitoring data on the HVO web page ( or by signing up to receive updates by email at this site:

Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency is in constant communications with HVO. If anything develops that may affect your safety, you will be informed.

Please sign up for Civil Defense notifications by visiting Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency webpage at"

Due to this upgrade in status to Yellow, HVO will now be issuing weekly instead of monthly updates on the volcano.

It had been rumored for some time that HVO would be looking more closely at Mauna Loa after the end of eruptive activity from Kilauea, and the increased activity has been going steady since the end of that eruption. The steady rate of inflation coupled with many small quakes, and some over 3.0 in magnitude over the past year is the cause for this concern.

The eruption in 1984 crossed several roads, and threatened the town of Hilo. Development on the island since that eruption will increase the likelihood that Mauna Loa will be a threat to property. However as with most eruptions on Hawaii, it is rare that lives are threatened, except of course for the last eruptive episode on Kilauea, which resulted in a fissure system opening under a neighborhood. While some injuries did occur, no lives were lost.

The current activity seems to be centered however on the opposite side of the volcano from the 1984 eruption, which occurred on the NE rift zone and summit caldera. The current focus of seismicity seems centered on the summit caldera, and the Southwest Rift zone. This could threaten the mountainside neighborhood of Ocean View, which resides on old flows from the SWRZ, the town of Pahala (surrounded by farmland), and Naalaehu. The most likely scenario should a SWRZ eruption occur would be encroachment of lava to Ocean View, however it is far too soon to speculate.

Residents should pay close attention to HVO alerts and updates, and have a preparedness plan should Mauna Loa erupt with short warning. As was the case with the Kilauea eruption, you'd likely have weeks, days, or hours of clear signs before an eruption will be declared imminent, as this is one of the best monitored volcanoes in the world.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Ulawun Volcano In Papua New Guinea Explodes

NEW BRITAIN, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Ulawun Volcano erupted today with a VEI 5 paroxsysmal eruption, ejecting ash over 50,000 feet into the air today, creating a dire situation for the nearby villages of Ulamona, and Sule. Ashfall is widespread, falling on neighboring islands.

Plinian style paroxsysmal eruption of Ulawun - 6/26/2019 @ approx 8am. Photographer unknown.

Ulawun eruption from air - Photographer credit Eroli Tamara

This is the largest eruption of Ulawun since it's 2000 episode. Eruptions of VEI 5 or larger can affect global climate, should enough gas and ash be ejected high into the stratosphere. The 1996 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo caused such an effect, lowering the global temperature average by a couple degrees for around 1 year. These effects are quite temporary however, and do nothing in the long run to counter man-made climate change, contrary to some bad reporting.


A statement I obtained from USGS indicates this was a VEI 4, sub-plinian eruption, with a maximum height of 43,000, not 50,000 ft as previously reported. The eruption is ongoing, and USGS is on site with local government to assist with disaster mitigation.

Friday, June 7, 2019

"Extinct" Kamchatcka Volcano Wakes Up

In Kamchatka, Russia, a volcano long believed to be extinct is 'waking up' according to Ivan Koulakov, a geophysicist from Russia's A.A. Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics. According to a CNN article, the scientist states that "At any moment, an eruption can occur".

The volcano in question is Bolshaya Udina, which is located SE of Tolbachik volcano, and South of Bezymianny volcano. Bezimianny volcano, like Udina, was previously considered to be extinct, prior to a period of eruption from 1955-56. That eruption was quite similar to Mount St. Helens, with a ESE facing collapse followed by lateral blast, and culminating in a dome-building event.

Bolshaya Udina has no recorded holocene eruptions, which is typically the threshold to write off a volcano as 'extinct', however as previously noted - no volcano can truly be considered extinct without monitoring data to back this up.

Indeed, many volcanoes previously considered to be extinct have erupted in historical time, which just goes to show that 'extinct' is never truly such. Chaiten in Chile, and Nabro in Eritrea were both considered to be probably extinct, but erupted with little warning. In the case of Chaiten, it was a very large and destructive eruption. In the case of Nabro, it disrupted flight plans, and issued a long lava flow that forced evacuations of lower-flank villages.

The news about Bolshaya Udina is somewhat fortunate, in that seismicity has been detected due to its closely monitored and more active neighbors. Otherwise this may have gone unnoticed until the volcano erupted.

Udina is not currently erupting, and Ivan Koulakov stated in the CNN article that there is about a 50% chance that this volcano will erupt. There are small villages nearby, which could be impacted, but the area is very sparsely populated.

If Udina does erupt, it is very possible that this would disrupt air traffic due to ash emissions, much like the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland affected much of Europe. But due to its remote location, the impacts would likely be limited to Alaska and the Aleutian islands.

According to the Smithsonian GVP:

"The Udina volcanic massif consists of two conical stratovolcanoes constructed along a WNW-ESE line at the south end of the Kliuchevskaya volcanic group, SE of Tolbachik volcano. The andesitic western volcano, Bolshaya Udina, has a prominent lava dome on its SW flank. The basaltic Malaya Udina rises above a low saddle at the eastern end of the complex; small lava domes also occur on its flanks. This volcano is located within the Volcanoes of Kamchatka, a UNESCO World Heritage property.

The Global Volcanism Program is not aware of any Holocene eruptions from Udina. If this volcano has had large eruptions (VEI >= 4) prior to 10,000 years ago, information might be found on the Udina page in the LaMEVE (Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions) database, a part of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA)."

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

HVO Shifts Monitoring Efforts To Mauna Loa

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has noted increased rates of inflation at Mauna Loa after the 2018 eruption of Kilauea. Inflation rates are still below the rates observed from 2014-2017, however increased earthquakes and ground deformation have been detected after the Kilauea eruption ended, and show a consistent trend.

The shallow magma reservoirs of Mauna Loa have undergone several periods of inflation since its last eruption in 1984, but all have paused without an eruption.

It is unknown what, if any, connection Mauna Loa and Kilauea share in terms of interactions. Kilauea's magma chamber draining may have allowed more pressure to build at Mauna Loa, or caused changes in the magmatic system. Some scientists have noted that when one volcano stops erupting, the other will begin an inflation phase, occasionally leading to eruption.

HVO scientists are looking at the current state of the volcanoes to test this theory. If Mauna Loa enters into an eruptive phase while Kilauea is dormant, this would lend more credence to the theory that the two volcanoes have an effect on each other. However there have been periods, such as the 1984 eruption of Mauna Loa, where the two have emitted lava simultaneously, but simultaneous activity is somewhat rare, and short-lived.

Currently both volcanoes are at 'Normal' levels of background activity, and no eruption from Manua Loa is imminent or predicted to occur in weeks or months. With Hawaii volcanoes though, activity seems to quickly ramp up before an eruption, so vigilance is always warranted.

You can monitor the inflation of both volcanoes on HVO's website:

For Kilauea:

For Mauna Loa:

Friday, April 5, 2019

What Is Happening Off Of Mayotte Island?

A small French territory island between Africa and Madagascar is making some big news. For several months, the volcanic island of Mayotte, in the Comoros Islands (which has not had a confirmed surface eruption since 2050 BCE) is getting very noisy. So noisy in fact that the earthquakes and seismic noise it is generating has been detected worldwide. And now, scientists say this could be the result of the largest ever underwater eruption in modern history.

Mayotte Island is a volcano, however it has had no eruptive activity in historical times. Offshore however, scientists are detecting very unusual activity, and large earthquakes (a 5.0 temblor struck today following months of other strong quakes), which have generated a 'huge rumble heard all around the world'. A 5.9 magnitude quake struck on May 15, 2018, and since then, the activity has continued. The seafloor off the coast of the island is sinking at a rate of about 0.4 inches per month as well.

This has been interpreted by geologists to mean that there is a large movement of magma, and possible offshore eruption - the largest ever recorded. Due to the depths and pressure, it is unclear whether the magma has broken through the sedimentary layer, or generated a new seamount, but given the length of the activity and amount of magma involved, it is quite possible. No underwater observations have yet occurred, so this is impossible to know at the moment.

Image from the March 12, 2019 scientific publication showing three distinct seismic crisis offshore of Mayotte.

According to the summary of a detailed study published at EarthArXiv, "We believe that the 2018 crisis is associated to an eruption, despite the fact that we do not have direct observations so far. It might be the offshore eruption with the largest volume ever documented."

As for the safety of the island of Mayotte, "If the eruption lasts one year, which is typical for volcanic eruption, the subsidence of Mayotte will exceed 0.1 m which is large but not critical for the inhabitants and infrastructures, and the total volume emitted will exceed 2 (square kilometers). Such volcanic event (sic) near the coast is the largest ever observed and it may be a major teacher for the understanding of how off-shore volcanoes work."

As of today, the activity continues with a 5.0 magnitude quake. Several other large (4.0+) quakes have occurred within the week. USGS does not have instrumentation to show the smaller quakes, but local geologists are monitoring the situation intensely. 

Google Earth capture with my volcano database and USGS plugin showing the location of the last large 5.0 earthquake.

At present, there is no danger to life or property, and the island is safe. With more instruments being deployed worldwide, and with the continuing discovery of underwater volcanoes and their activities, it is likely that we'll be detecting more and more underwater eruptions with better accuracy as time goes on.

This particular eruption however, will fascinate for a long time. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Iceland's Tjörnes Fracture Zone Having Massive Quake Swarm


The Tjörnes Fracture Zone has recently reactivated with two separate quake swarms. The first, starting sometime in the last couple of weeks, had been occurring offshore near Grimsey Island. Yesterday, another swarm began taking place near the town of Kopasker, Öxarfjordur, NE Iceland, which has now generated a very long lasting swarm of quakes. Largest quake in this swarm so far had a magnitude of 4.2.

Statement from Iceland Meteorological Office

At the time of this writing, nearly 2000 events have now been recorded, with the swarm ongoing. There has been no determination whether these are purely tectonic quakes in nature, although there has also been no mention of volcanic tremor. This is of course, Iceland though, so anything can happen, as it is part of the Atlantic rifting zone. If there was ever anywhere most likely for a new volcano to pop up, it's Iceland. 

Screen grab from Iceland Meteorological Office detailing the ongoing quake sequence

Tectonic swarms like this are not uncommon around the world. In highly volcanic areas though, they are always worth watching. This particular area does not have any Holocene (past 10,000 years) eruptive centers, although some long lava flows from distant centers are present. There is a Pliocene-Pleistocene ridge to the NW of Kopasker, which appears to have formed subglacially.

New volcanoes can form in Iceland where there were previously no obvious volcanoes. The island of Surtsey was formed to the SW of Vestmannaeyjar in 1967 in a similar fracture zone. Vestmannaeyjar itself had a new volcano, Helgafell, form in 1973 with little warning, forcing the evacuation of residents, and prompting an ambitious (and ultimately successful) effort to slow and cool advancing lava with cold ocean water, to protect the harbor.

Until new data analysis emerges however, speculation is just speculation. It is likely that the swarm will eventually end, with no volcanic activity. But you never, never, discount that possibility in a place like Iceland until the facts are in. There is a concern that if the quake continues for a long period of time, it could generate up to a 6.0 magnitude quake.

****UPDATE 3/29/2019****

Statement from Iceland Meteorological Office:

Earthquake swarm in Öxarfjordur, NE-Iceland.

 The earthquake swarm in Öxarfjordur is ongoing, about 6 km SW of the town of Kópasker. The swarm began on last Saturday 23 of March.

Eight earthquakes of magnitude 3 or higher have been measured, the largest of which measured M4.2 on March 27th. Around 2200 earthquakes have been detected since the earthquake swarm started.

Today ( March 29th ) around 350 earthquakes have been detected, the largest one M2.7 at 07:18. During the last 24 hours the intensity has decreased a lot. The swarm is still ongoing. Monitoring of the earthquakes will be followed closely during the week-end.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Kilauea Alert Downgraded To Lowest Since 1983


USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has downgraded Kilauea to the lowest level (Green - background) since the start of the Pu'u'O'o eruption began in 1983. This officially marked the end of the long eruptive period of Kilauea volcano, which ended in August of 2018.

Kilauea remains an active volcano, and will certainly erupt again. It is currently in an inflation phase, where the East Rift Zone's deep magma chamber is recharging at a fairly consistent rate.

USGS HVO scientists estimate that lava will return first to the summit caldera within several years,based on the rate of magma influx to the volcanic system.

Hazards remain in the area as the caldera is still a bit unstable, and the eruptive vents of Pu'u'O'o, and the LERZ vents responsible for the Leilani Estates eruption are still quite hot, and are still releasing heat. The entire zone is still off-limits to residents without escort, and off-limits absolutely to tourists.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Locals In Ngora, Uganda Claim 'Volcanic Activity'


Locals in Ngora, Uganda have apparently reported what they claim is 'volcanic activity' at a rock locally known as Moru Otukei rock, which sits just outside of the main village center. Reports like these can in many cases turn out to be false, as fear and local gossip spreads without the presence of geologists and volcanologists to confirm or debunk these claims.

A few years back, a similar claims were made in Burma, India, and Nigeria, which ended up being some sort of effort to get government assistance in a remote part of the country (why they claimed a volcanic eruption was occurring in an area with no history of holocene volcanism is beyond me).

Several videos of locals jumping around on the rock have been posted to Youtube, and Ugandan news sties have started running with the story.

It is highly unlikely that the claims of volcanic activity are accurate. The nearest volcano, Mt. Elgon, is a miocene volcano which, while beautifully preserved, has absolutley no holocene activity associated with it.

Oh, Internet, you're such a strange window into strange places.


According to a local cartoonist, a geophysicist has attributed the cracking rock to a rather simple explanation. Dry weather, and high heat.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

5.5 Magnitude Quake Strikes Kilauea

HILO HAWAII - A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck Kilauea about 7.45 miles WSW of Pu'u'o'o crater at a depth of 6.72km. The quake occurred within the same relative area as the large magnitude 6.9 quake which preceded the last large eruption in the LERZ (Lower Eastern rift Zone). Since more active monitoring of Kilauea has diminished since the alert level was lowered to Yellow (watch), daily updates are not provided on the status of Kilauea.

Google Earth with USGS plugin and my proprietary database showing location of new quake at Kilauea.

Kilauea has not had any lava eruptions since the last one ended on August 4, 2018. Deformation data has continued to show inflation down rift of Pu'u'o'o to the LERZ, and multiple D/I (deflation/inflation) events have occurred lately, which is quite typical for the summit area. However after the large quake, it is anyone's guess as to whether the instruments are functional at this moment. 

HVO manager Brian Shiro was quoted by the Star Advertiser saying "We see no detectable changes in volcanic activity at the summit or along the rift zones of Kīlauea as a result of this earthquake. Aftershocks are possible and could be felt"

Kilauea had been in a constant state of eruption and lava effusion since 1983, and it is unlikely to become dormant any time soon. Hazards still remain at the LERZ and there is a remote chance that activity could resume in that area. The area is still off limits to residents without escort, and tourists. The HVO re-opened recently, although it is unclear whether the Jagger Museum is safe, and remains closed to the public.