Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Erupts, Triggers Earthquake: What to Know

by Suzanne Halliburton

The Kilauea Volcano erupted overnight, placing Hawaii’s Big Island on red alert. As the lava rolled, residents were told to stay inside because of “rapidly evolving” conditions.

Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It last blew in May, 2018, destroying more than 700 homes. The event, itself, lasted for months and forced the evacuation of thousands.

At about 9:30 local time Sunday, the Hawaii Volcano Observatory noticed a glow in the Halemaumau crater. That’s located near the volcano’s summit. About an hour later, the U.S. Geological Survey recorded an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.4 on the south flank of the volcano.

Since then, the USGS recorded seven other earthquakes over the past few hours. They ranged in magnitude from 2.5 to 2.7 magnitude.

The latest report Monday morning from USGS Volcanoes said:

“View from the W rim of Kīlauea Caldera just before 5 a.m. HST on Dec. 21, 2020. The main fountain height is ~18 m (59 ft) and with two other fissures feeds a growing lava lake at the base of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. Volcanic gas continues to travel downwind, southwest of the vents.”

USGS officials also posted a photo of a gas cloud coming from the volcano. It said the “lava contained within the crater illuminates the steam produced by the lava interacting with, and boiling off, the summit water lake that resided in the base of Halemaʻumaʻu crater.”

There Are Many Volcanoes In United States. Few Have Erupted

There are 169 volcanoes in the United States. All potentially could be active. But few in the 48 states of the mainland have erupted. Here are the volcanoes that have erupted:

Mount St. Helens, Washington – The most recent eruptions happened from 2004-07. They’ve also occurred in the late 1700s, 1800-1857 and 1980-96.

Lassen Peak, California – The steam blasts started, May 13, 1914. The actual eruption happened a year later. Activity continued for two years.

Mount Hood, Oregon – The volcano was dormant for 1,000 years. But Mount Hood had an “eruptive period” beginning in 1781. That lasted for a decade. Local residents reported minor activity about 70 years later.

The USGS said there are about 1,500 potentially active volcanoes worldwide. About one third of the volcanoes have erupted. Many oare located in the “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific Ocean.

In the United States, there are volcanoes along the Pacific Rim in what is known as the “Ring of Fire.” In the United States, volcanoes in the Cascade mountain range and Alaska’s Aleutian volcanic chain are part of the Ring. The volcanoes in Hawaii are in a hot spot near the ring’s center.