Elevated seismic activity has caused Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park to close the Mauna Loa summit backcountry until further notice, the park announced this week.
Covering half of the Island of Hawaiʻi, Mauna Loa is considered the largest active volcano on the planet, according to the US Geological Survey.
The Hawaii Volcano Observatory says activity on the volcano has been on the increase since early summer.
Earthquake activity has been increasing from five to 10 earthquakes a day since June 2022 to some 10 to 20 earthquakes a day in July and August, according to the USGS.
It reached 40 to 50 earthquakes a day over the past two weeks. Peak numbers of more than 100 earthquakes a day were recorded on September 23 and September 29, the USGS said.
No signs of eruption
The park posted a picture of the volcano on its Twitter account this week and said the summit area was being “closed to hiking as a precautionary measure.”
“Mauna Loa is not erupting, and there are no signs of an imminent eruption at this time,” the U.S. Geological Survey said in a news release.
“However, Mauna Loa continues to be in a state of heightened unrest as indicated by increased earthquake activity and inflation of the summit.”
The USGS said the current unrest is “most likely being driven by renewed input of magma” 2 miles to 5 miles beneath volcano’s summit
“The current increase in activity does not suggest that a progression to an eruption is certain, and there are no indications that an eruption is imminent,” USGS said.
“Eruptions tend to produce voluminous, fast-moving lava flows that can impact communities on the east and west sides of the Island,” the USGS said.
Since its first well-documented eruption in 1843, the volcano has erupted 33 times, with the last eruption taking place in 1984.
There are two national parks in the state: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and Haleakalā National Park, which is on the island of Maui. The National Park Service also has seven other sites in the state, including the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
Top image: Mauna Loa crater (A. Lavalle/NPS Photo)
CNN’s Forrest Brown contributed to this report.