Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is evacuating all visitors and non-emergency staff today due to a series of strong and damaging earthquakes that continue to rock Kīlauea Volcano. The park – including the Kahuku Unit – will remain closed until it is deemed safe to reopen.
A magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck at 12:32 p.m. Friday, and caused violent shaking throughout the park. It triggered rock slides on park trails, crater walls, and along sections of Chain of Craters Road. A magnitude-5.4 earthquake an hour earlier caused a coastal cliff to collapse into the ocean near the Hōlei Sea Arch. Narrow fissures appeared in the ground at an overlook near Jaggar Museum, and throughout the day, rocks fell into the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the volcano’s summit, creating dark ash clouds.
There are no reported injuries at this time. A flurry of smaller earthquakes and aftershocks continue, and were recorded throughout the day.
“Safety is our main priority at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and it is currently not safe to be here,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We will monitor the situation closely, and reopen when it is safe to do so,” Orlando said.
Hikes were canceled and about 2,600 visitors are being evacuated from the park. Guests at Volcano House hotel and Kilauea Military Camp are being relocated. All non-emergency park employees were sent home.
According to the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, the active eruption outside the park in the Leilani Estates community continues. Rock falls and ash plumes at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Crater were prompted by today’s earthquake sequence.
On April 30, the crater within Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent on the volcano’s eastern flank collapsed, sending torrents of magma towards lower Puna communities. On May 3, lava erupted out of a fissure in the Leilani Estates neighborhood, which was evacuated by Hawai‘i County Civil Defense.
Aerial image of Kīlauea Volcano’s summit crater, Halema‘uma‘u, taken on NPS overflight Friday following the large earthquake. NPS Photo/Nainoa Keana‘aina.