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Kilauea alert level raised after series of earthquakes

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory raised its alert level for Kilauea from “advisory” to “watch” after an ongoing series of small earthquakes was detected beneath Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

According to HVO, the swarm of earthquakes began on Monday evening beneath the south part of the Kilauea caldera. It continued into this morning, and a particularly strong sequence of about 10 earthquakes — averaging around a magnitude 2.2, with one reaching magnitude 3.4 — beginning around 1:30 a.m. this morning.

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HVO reports that the earthquake swarm coincided with a change in ground deformation recorded by tiltmeters at the Kilauea summit, which could indicate the shallow movement of magma beneath the caldera.

Currently, all seismic activity is confined within the National Park, HVO reports. Small earthquakes are continuing at a rate of at least 10 per hour.

Although HVO reports that Kilauea is not currently erupting, with no evidence of surface lava, it is raising both the volcano alert level — from “advisory” to “watch” — and the aviation color code — from “yellow” to “orange” — in response.

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A “watch” alert level indicates that the volcano is exhibiting “heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption” under an uncertain timeframe. An “orange” aviation color code indicates the same.

HVO will continue to monitor the situation.

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