Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Closes Volcano Summit Due to ‘Increased Seismic Activity’

by Jon D. B.
USA: Hawaï, île d'Hawaï, dans le parc national de Hawaii, le cratère du volcan en activité Mauna Loa (4161 m). (Photo by Michael SERRAILLIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Mauna Loa Road and the Mauna Loa Lookout (6,662 feet elevation) will remain open to the public. But the summit that allows visitors to view the mouth of the gigantic Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is closing to the public out of caution.

“Due to elevated seismic activity on Mauna Loa and as a precautionary measure, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is closing the Mauna Loa summit backcountry until further notice,” the park states in their Oct. 6 media release on the matter.

Currently, the volcanic alert level remains at advisory, and the aviation color code remains at yellow. If anything changes or an eruption is imminent, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) scientists will notify Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the public.

But please note, “Mauna Loa is not erupting and there are no signs of an imminent eruption at this time,” HVO clarifies in their own report Thursday.

“However, Mauna Loa is currently experiencing heightened unrest. Earthquake activity has been increasing from 5-10 earthquakes per day since June 2022, to 10-20 earthquakes per day in July and August,” HVO continues. As a result, Mauna Loa is reaching approximately 40-50 earthquakes per day consistently, and has been for over the past two weeks.

At its seismic height, the Hawaii giant peaked at over 100 earthquakes per day occurred on September 23rd and 29th, HVO cites.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Mauna Loa’s Summit is ‘Inflating’ and ‘Expanding’

  • MAUNA LOA (VNUM #332020)
  • 19°28’30” N 155°36’29” W, Summit Elevation 13681 ft (4170 m)
  • Current Volcano Alert Level: ADVISORY
  • Current Aviation Color Code: YELLOW

According to officials, Mauna Loa’s summit is also “inflating” and “expanding” in tandem with earthquake activity. A notable increase in summit size has taken place over the last two weeks of seismic unrest as a result.

“The last time Mauna Loa displayed similar elevated earthquake activity and expansion of the summit region was late-January to late-March of 2021,” HVO adds. “Additional periods of increased earthquake activity have also occurred during the 38 years since the last eruption of Mauna Loa in 1984.”

VOLCANO, HAWAII, UNITED STATES – 2015/09/20: Volcanoes have created the Hawaiian Island chain. Klauea and Mauna Loa, two of the world’s most active volcanoes, are still adding to the island of Hawaii. Mauna Loa is the most massive mountain on Earth occupying an estimated volume of 20,000 cubic miles. Research at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory makes Klauea one of the best understood volcanos in the world. Visitors can experience some of the volcano’s power in limited trails at Vocano National Park. (Photo by John S Lander/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Currently, the Alert Level for Mauna Loa remains at ADVISORY/YELLOW, HVO reiterates for the public.

But the observatory is airing on the side of caution, and will make information widely available on a more regular basis as a result. Beginning today, October 6, 2022, HVO will be changing updates for Mauna Loa from WEEKLY to DAILY, “reflecting the heightened level of unrest,” they conclude.

HVO will continue to monitor conditions carefully, and Outsider will keep you updated on all things Hawaii Volcanoes National Park alongside.