HVO Elevating Advisory Alert for Mauna Loa

HVO seismic stations continue to record elevated rates of shallow, small-magnitude earthquakes beneath Mauna Loa’s summit, upper Southwest Rift Zone, and west flank. For at least the past year, the rate of shallow earthquakes has varied but overall has remained above the long-term average. During this same time period, HVO has measured ground deformation consistent with recharge of the volcano’s shallow magma storage system. 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.

mauna-loa
This increase in alert level does not mean that an eruption is imminent or that progression to an eruption is certain.

Shallow earthquakes are occurring in locations similar to those that preceded Mauna Loa’s two most recent eruptions in 1975 and 1984; however, the energy release of the recent earthquakes remains comparatively low. The current rate and pattern of ground deformation is similar to that measured during inflation of Mauna Loa in 2005, an episode of unrest that did not end in an eruption.

It is possible that, as in 2005, the present heightened activity will continue for many months, or even years, without progressing to an eruption. It is also possible that the current unrest is a precursor to an eruption, as was the case prior to eruptions in 1975 and 1984. At this early stage of unrest, we cannot determine which of these possibilities is more likely.

HVO continues to monitor the volcano closely and will report any significant changes

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