Volcano Watch: Opportunities to learn about the volcanoes in your backyard in January 2024

Island of Hawaii Volcano Awareness Month programs scheduled throughout the month of January 2024.

Vigorous fountaining within Kilauea caldera was visible from near the Uekahuna overlook during the afternoon of September 10, 2023. This image shows fissure vents that opened parallel to the boundary of Halemaʻumaʻu crater near where it intersected the downdropped block. (USGS/M. Patrick)

Volcanoes are a part of life for Hawaii residents. We live on the flanks, feeling earthquakes beneath our feet, smelling vog, and experiencing the effects of eruptions. It’s important to keep up awareness of the types of volcanic activity and associated hazards possible in Hawaii nei. During January 2024, join us at a Volcano Awareness Month program to learn something new about the volcanoes in our backyard!

Volcano Awareness Month on the island of Hawaii is spearheaded by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). We partner with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH), the County of Hawaii Civil Defense Agency, and other organizations to deliver a range of talks and guided walks for residents and visitors to learn more about the volcanoes in Hawaii.


So far in 2023, there were three eruptions at the summit of Kilauea. Since the beginning of October 2023, an intrusion in the region southwest of Kilauea’s summit has been causing pulses of increased earthquakes and rates of ground deformation as magma moves below the surface. HVO is closely monitoring this region, watching for signs of potential eruptive activity.

If you’d like to learn more about Kilauea activity, join us at After Dark in the Park Programs in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Jan. 9, 16, and 23. Programs will summarize the recent crater-filling summit eruptions, past eruptions near the summit of Kilauea, and past Southwest Rift Zone eruptions. Another After Dark in the Park program on Jan. 30 will summarize the Mauna Loa 2022 eruption and monitoring observations over the past year.

Additional talks are being offered at other locations around the island of Hawaii in January as part of Volcano Awareness Month. Talks at UHH on Jan. 17 and 31 will describe collaborative work between HVO and UHH to analyze lava samples and HVO’s work to monitor volcanoes in American Samoa. A talk at the Pahala Community Center on Jan. 18 will summarize what we’ve learned about the ongoing earthquake swarm deep beneath that area, which has generated over 250 felt earthquakes since 2019!

On Jan. 19, come to the Pahoa Lava Zone Museum to learn about the methods that HVO uses to map eruptions, or on Jan. 25, you can listen to a talk at the Kailua Public Library about how earthquakes are used to monitor volcanoes. Lastly, come sip on coffee at the Kahuku Unit of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Jan. 27 while attending a presentation on the destructive sequence of events that occurred on Mauna Loa in 1868.

If you prefer the outdoors, several guided walks are being offered throughout the month of January. Learn the history of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s Kahuku Unit during a guided walk on Jan. 7. In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, trek the Kilauea Iki and Maunaulu trails with guides on Jan. 13 and 20, respectively, to learn about those eruptions. Hike through Ha‘akulamanu (Sulphur Banks Trail) on Jan. 27 to see volcanic degassing at Kilauea and hear how HVO measures volcanic gas emissions, which can cause vog (volcanic air pollution) downwind. Head back to the Kahuku Unit on Jan. 28 to hike Pu‘u o Lokuana and learn about the cinder cone as you admire the beautiful view of Kaʻu from the top (if the weather is clear!).

We’ll also be hosting tables for several hours at the Naʻalehu Library on Jan. 10 and the Hawaii Keiki Museum on Jan. 15, where you can come a talk story with HVO staff. We can answer questions you might have about recent eruptions, how HVO monitors volcanoes, volcanic hazards that might impact you, and more. We’ll also have resources for you to take home and browse there, if you prefer.

Hawaii’s volcanoes are dynamic; with their constant change comes opportunities to learn and better prepare for events that might impact residents. We hope to see you at a Volcano Awareness Month program this January! A calendar with descriptions of all Volcano Awareness Month 2024 programs is provided on HVO’s website (https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/news/announcing-island-hawaii-volcano-awareness-month-programs-january-2024). Questions about Hawaii’s volcanoes or Volcano Awareness Month can be emailed to askHVO@usgs.gov.

Volcano Activity Updates

Kilauea is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert level is ADVISORY.

The unrest associated with the intrusion that began in early October southwest of Kilauea’s summit continues. Elevated earthquake activity has continued in the Southwest Rift Zone, summit, and upper East Rift Zone over the last week, with earthquakes swarms Dec. 1, 2, and Dec. 7. Unrest may continue to wax and wane with changes to the input of magma into the area and eruptive activity could occur in the near future with little or no warning. The most recent sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rate for the summit — approximately 70 tonnes per day — was measured on Dec. 5.

Mauna Loa is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert Level is at NORMAL.

Webcams show no signs of activity on Mauna Loa. Summit seismicity increased slightly at the beginning of November but returned to low levels in the weeks since then. Ground deformation indicates continuing slow inflation as magma replenishes the reservoir system following the 2022 eruption. SO2 emission rates are at background levels.

Four earthquakes were reported felt in the Hawaiian Islands during the past week: a M4.4 earthquake 2 km (1 mi) ESE of Volcano at 23 km (14 mi) depth on Dec. 6 at 5:16 p.m. HST, a M3.1 earthquake 13 km (8 mi) SSE of Volcano at 1 km (1 mi) depth on Dec. 4 at 5:58 p.m. HST, a M5.1 earthquake 13 km (8 mi) SSE of Volcano at 2 km (1 mi) depth on Dec. 4 at 5:53 p.m. HST, and a M2.2 earthquake 10 km (6 mi) ESE of Waikoloa at 3 km (1 mi) depth on Dec. 4 at 4:35 p.m. HST.

HVO continues to closely monitor Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

Please visit HVO’s website for past Volcano Watch articles, Kilauea and Mauna Loa updates, volcano photos, maps, recent earthquake information, and more. Email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.

Volcano Watch is a weekly article and activity update written by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists and affiliates.

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