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Hawaii Volcano Observatory Update
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The following is the most recent Volcano Update from the Hawaii Volcano Observatory in the Hawaii Volcano National Park. This update is usually current on weekdays. For more detailed information and historical archives visit the HVO Website.

U.S. Geological Survey
Thursday, December 3, 2020, 5:57 PM HST (Friday, December 4, 2020, 03:57 UTC)

19°25'16" N 155°17'13" W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN



Kīlauea Volcano is not erupting. Earthquake activity increased below Kīlauea summit between November 29–December 3, 2020. Kīlauea summit ground deformation rates accompanying the earthquake activity had a brief excursion from trends observed in the past several months; other monitoring data streams remained stable. Seismicity and ground deformation rates have since decreased; Kīlauea monitoring data streams remain stable and show no signs of increased activity.


On November 29–30, 2020, the US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded over 80 earthquakes beneath Kīlauea summit, about 4 miles (6.5 km) southwest of Volcano. The seismic activity began late on the 29th, after 11:00 p.m. HST, and continued for approximately 11 hours. These earthquakes occurred in a cluster under Kīlauea caldera, about 1 mile (2 km) wide and 1–2 miles (1–3 km) below the surface.

On December 2, 2020, increased seismic activity under Kīlauea summit began shortly after 12:00 a.m. HST, and ramped up four hours later to an average rate of 10–12 earthquakes per hour. HVO recorded over 220 earthquakes for the entire 24-hour period. These earthquakes occurred in clusters under the Kīlauea caldera and upper East Rift Zone, at 1–3 miles (1–4 km) below the surface.

These shallow earthquakes have not posed a hazard from ground-shaking. The largest event in the sequence was a magnitude-3 earthquake, with the bulk of the events being less than magnitude-1. Most of the events have not been widely reported by residents. Reported felt events were described as weak shaking, with a maximum Intensity of III on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.

On the evening of December 2, Kīlauea summit tiltmeters experienced a transient episode of deformation, recording a notable tilt signal (10–14 microradians) within a few hours. Tiltmeters have since returned to measuring tilt rates similar to recent months. Other monitoring data streams for Kīlauea, including gas and imagery, show no signs of increased activity.

Clustering of shallow earthquakes in this region is not unprecedented following the end of Kīlauea's 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption and does not mean an eruption is imminent. HVO has recorded shallow earthquakes in this area for many decades across several eruptive cycles at Kīlauea. The recent seismicity demonstrates that magma continues to be supplied to the Kīlauea shallow magma storage system. These observations are within the expected behavior of an active volcanic system.

As of the afternoon of December 3, seismic activity and ground deformation rates at Kīlauea's summit have decreased and returned to near background levels. Other monitoring data streams remain stable.

HVO continues to closely monitor geologic changes, seismicity, deformation, and gas emissions at Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. HVO will issue additional messages and alert level changes as warranted by changing activity.

HVO Contact Information: askHVO@usgs.gov


Kilauea Activity summary also available by phone: (808) 967-8862

Other Hawaiian volcanoes summary also available by phone: (808) 967-8877

Subscribe to these messages: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vns2/

Kilauea Webcam images: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/webcams

Kilauea Photos/video: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/photo-video-chronology

Kilauea Lava flow maps: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/maps

Haleakala Summary: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/haleakala

Hualalai Summary: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/hualalai

Loihi Summary: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/loihi-seamount

Mauna Kea Summary: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mauna-kea

Definitions of terms used in update: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/extra/definitions.pdf

Summary of volcanic hazards from Kīlauea eruptions: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/extra/hazards.pdf

Recent earthquakes in Hawaiʻi (map and list): https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hawaiian-volcano-observatory/earthquakes

Explanation of Volcano Alert Levels and Aviation Color Codes: https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/volcano-hazards/about-alert-levels



The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is one of five volcano observatories within the U.S. Geological Survey and is responsible for monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawaiʻi.

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