4.2 Earthquake at Kīlauea Consistent with Slip Along Steep Faults

Kīlauea Earthquake, May 23, 2021. PC: USGS/HVO

The US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory recorded a magnitude-4.2 earthquake located beneath Kīlauea Volcano’s south flank on Sunday, May 23, at 11:41 a.m., HST. 

The earthquake was centered about 9 miles south of Volcano, under the Hilina Pali area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at a depth of 5 miles.

The USGS “Did you feel it?” service received more than 175 felt reports within the first hour of the earthquake–the majority in Hilo and Volcano on Hawaiʻi Island.  

According to HVO Scientist-in-Charge Ken Hon, the earthquake had no apparent effect on Kīlauea or Mauna Loa volcanoes. “We see no detectable changes in activity at the summits or along the rift zones of Kīlauea or Mauna Loa as a result of this earthquake. Aftershocks are possible and could be felt.” HVO continues to monitor Kīlauea and other Hawaiian volcanoes for any changes. 

Kīlauea’s south flank has been the site of 40 earthquakes of magnitude-4.0 or greater during the past 20 years. Most are caused by abrupt motion of the volcano’s south flank, which moves to the southeast over the oceanic crust. The location, depth, and waveforms recorded as part of today’s earthquake are consistent with slip along the steep faults of the pali. A few felt earthquakes preceded this event, including a magnitude-3.6 and magnitude-3.4 earlier in the morning. Aftershocks from this magnitude-4.2 earthquake are likely. 

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