Starting about 2:30 PT Friday, a series of earthquakes hit Hawaii following a volcano eruption that began on Thursday. A 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck near Leilani Estates, followed by five more earthquakes ranging from magnitude 3.0 to 4.2. The first earthquake was centered near the south side of Kilauea volcano and was felt from Hilo to Kona.
Residents as far away as Oahu reported feeling tremors. The population of Lanipuna Gardens, which is located east of Leilani Estates, was evacuated on Friday. CBS SF Bay Area reports that the earthquakes pose no tsunami threat to Hawaii, and there have been no reports of injuries so far.
Hawaii has experienced multiple earthquakes this week, along with lava from three volcanic vents. Mayor Wil Okabe has stated that efforts are currently being made to confirm a fourth vent. Scientists say that the formation of new vents is possible, but there is no way to predict their location.
Civil defense officials warned about high levels of sulfur dioxide near the volcano and advised the elderly and people with breathing problems to consider leaving the area in order to avoid effects like burning eyes, burns, and coughing.
Thursday’s eruption sent lava flowing through the forests of Hawaii and burning up its streets. Dramatic video of lava bursting through pavement and snaking through wooded areas was released to the media. Friday’s eruptions included two that blew through vents in streets. It isn’t known how long the eruptions and resulting earthquakes will continue. The U. S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says that a determining factor in volcanic eruptions coming to an end is the draining of magma reservoir at the summit in response to the eruptions.
In response to the turbulence of the week, Hawaii Governor David Ige has activated the National Guard to help with evacuations and secure nearly 800 structures that are now empty as a result of evacuations.
Triggering the earthquakes in Hawaii was the collapse of Kilauea’s Puu Ooo crater floor on Monday. It pushed lava into new underground chambers and caused magma to push over 10 miles downslope. The magma eventually passed under Highway 130, which leads to a volcano access point that’s popular with sightseers. Officials shut down the area to tourists and ordered private tour companies to stop taking visitors to the site.