Earth has been shaking and swelling in recent days at the top of the Calavia volcano in Hawaii, with scientists warning that the mountain could release lava again.
Here is an overview of the latest developments in Kilauea:
What activities are scientists looking at?
Earthquakes are not uncommon for Calavia, which could indicate that rocks are moving. The swelling of the earth is also not uncommon because the heat from the sun and the saturation from the rain can cause the earth to expand and shrink.
However, an earthquake and swelling of the earth at the same time can indicate that the magma is moving.
“We have a lot of earthquakes here and we have a lot of deformation here, but the combination of the two makes us very aware,” said Jefferson Chang, a geophysicist in research who is part of the U.S. Geological Survey.
There have been hundreds of earthquakes since Monday, 25 times an hour. With the strongest measuring magnitude 3, and the maximum magnitude between 1 and 2, at these levels, earthquakes are usually very small that people may not notice. Chang said there have been no reports of people feeling it so far.
Where is the activity taking place?
It is located on the top of Kilauea Volcano, an uninhabited area inside the Hawaii Volcano National Park on the main island. It is about 200 miles southeast of Honolulu, on a different island called Oahu.
The site is miles away from the nearest town. Park has closed this part of the summit to the public since 2008.
Ben Hayes, the park’s interpretation and education program manager, said the park was preparing for a possible eruption, but said there was nothing to worry about. “It’s one of the most active volcanoes in the world,” he said.
Has it happened before?
Scientists observed activity in the same part of the summit in 2015, Chang said. The incident lasted for three days, and the volcano did not erupt. Like this time, the earth blossomed. One difference is that there were more earthquakes at that time.
Kilauea last erupted in 1974 in the southern part of its caldera.
What is the current situation?
The quake stopped at around 4:30 a.m. Monday. The swelling of the earth is gone. But activity may return. Chang said there is sometimes a lack of activity that lasts for a day or two.
What does it mean to change the alert level?
The Observatory changed Calavia’s volcanic alert level for viewing from the advisory on Tuesday, meaning the mountain was showing rising turbulence, which increased the likelihood of an eruption.
But scientists do not know when it could explode, if it does. If scientists believe there is a possibility of a dangerous eruption, they will turn the warning level into a warning.
The Observatory changed the aviation color code to “orange”, warning pilots that it was likely to explode and that they would need to evacuate the area if that happened.
How many times has Clauia been removed before?
Hawaiian slogans and stories tell countless stories of explosions. In Hawaiian tradition, Kilauea is the home of the volcanic goddess Yellow.
Calavia has erupted 34 times since 1952. At the end of the decades-long eruption, Calavia erupted lava from the roofs of a residential neighborhood in its eastern part, destroying more than 700 homes.
In December, Calavia erupted into a crater, forming a lake with enough lava to fill 10 Hover dams. The blast ended in May.