Hawai'i State News

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

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

Volcanoes are a part of life for Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i nei. During January 2024, join the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at a Volcano Awareness Month program to learn something new about the volcanoes in our backyard!

Volcano Awareness Month on the Island of Hawai‘i is spearheaded by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. It partners with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, the County of Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i.

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

Vigorous fountaining within Kīlauea caldera was visible from near the Uēkahuna overlook in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park during the most recent Kīlauea summit eruption in September 2023. USGS image by M. Patrick.

If you’d like to learn more about Kīlauea activity, join the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at After Dark in the Park Programs in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Jan. 9, 16 and 23. Programs will summarize the recent crater-filling summit eruptions, past eruptions near the summit of Kīlauea, 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 Hawai‘i in January as part of Volcano Awareness Month. Talks at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo on Jan. 17 and 31 will describe collaborative work between Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo to analyze lava samples and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s work to monitor volcanoes in American Samoa. A talk at the Pāhala 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 Pāhoa Lava Zone Museum to learn about the methods that Hawaiian Volcano Observatory uses to map eruptions, or on January 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 Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s Kahuku Unit during a guided walk on Jan. 7. In Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, trek the Kīlauea 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 Kīlauea 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 Kaʻū from the top (if the weather is clear!).

We’ll also be hosting tables for several hours at the Nāʻālehu Library on Jan. 10 and the Hawaii Keiki Museum on Jan. 15, where you can come a talk story with Hawaiian Volcano Observatory staff. We can answer questions you might have about recent eruptions, how Hawaiian Volcano Observatory 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.   


Hawai‘i’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 Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s website (https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/news/announcing-island-hawaii-volcano-awareness-month-programs-january-2024).

Questions about Hawai‘i’s volcanoes or Volcano Awareness Month can be emailed to [email protected].

Volcano Activity Updates

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

The unrest associated with the intrusion that began in early October southwest of Kīlauea’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 December 1, 2, and December 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 (SO2emission rate for the summit—approximately 70 tonnes per day—was measured on December 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 Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.

Visit HVO’s website for past Volcano Watch articles, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa updates, volcano photos, maps, recent earthquake information, and more. Email questions to [email protected].

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