String of explosions at Kilauea summit had force of magnitude 5.3 earthquake

Posted at 7:21 AM, Jun 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-26 09:21:38-04

For the fifth day in a row, an explosion at the Kilauea summit erupted with a force equivalent to a magnitude 5.3 earthquake.

Monday’s event happened at 5:03 p.m. local time, with a plume that reached less than 2,000 feet. It didn’t cause a tsunami threat, but was the latest in a series of what’s been called explosion collapse events by the US Geological Survey.

On Sunday at 4:12 p.m. local time, a collapse explosion registered at magnitude 5.3.

On Saturday at 4:34 p.m., another one also registered at 5.3.

On Friday, at 6:52 p.m., a collapse explosion was equivalent to a magnitude 5.3 earthquake.

On Thursday, at 1:14 p.m., a gas and ash emission at the summit also had force equivalent to magnitude 5.3.

The events have mostly caused small plumes with little ash and mostly steam, according to US Geological Survey. For this reason, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory downgraded the aviation color code from red to orange, as the explosions have rarely produced huge ash plumes taller than 10,000 feet that could pose dangers to flights.

More than 4,000 small earthquakes that have struck the area in the last week, with as many as 40 earthquakes per hour, according to data from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The vast majority of them have been between magnitude 2 to 3.

Residents living near the volcano area are being asked to monitor their gas, water and power connections after the earthquakes.

And the earthquakes have caused cracks in the building and books being thrown off shelves in a Hawaii observatory as shown in a tweet by USGS.

The damage so far

Despite the near-constant earthquakes, it’s lava that has been most destructive.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano covers 6,164 acres (about 9.6 square miles) since it started erupting May 3, and has destroyed 657 homes, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense Service.

Fissure 8 continues to feed lava flowing to the ocean at Kapoho. Since June 3, when lava first entered the ocean on the southeastern side of the Big Island, the flow has created new land at the ocean entry that has expanded to about 405 acres.