Earthquake shakes large island at underwater Hawaii volcano

An active deep-sea volcano off Hawaii shook the Big Island, but had no effect on nearby active volcanoes

USGS officials said moderate tremors could be felt across the large island, but no major damage was expected at that intensity. The earthquake did not generate a tsunami and had no apparent effect on the nearby Kilauea or Mauna Loa volcanoes.

“We see no detectable changes in activity at the summit or along the rift zones of Loei, Kilauea or Mauna Loa as a result of this earthquake,” said Ken Hohn, lead scientist at USGS’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory. “Shocks are possible and can be felt.”

Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on Earth. Both are located on the Big Island.

Lohi is an active volcano whose summit is about 3,200 feet (975 m) below the surface of the Pacific. The summit area has three craters and scientists believe it contains a shallow magma chamber just below the surface.

The eruption of the rarely seen volcano has never been observed, but researchers believe that Lohi has events of explosive and conductive eruptions.

Earthquakes have been recorded in Lohi for decades. In the summer of 1996, more than 4,000 earthquakes occurred on the seamount, of which 300 were larger than magnitude-3.0 and 95 larger than 4.0.

Last year the USGS reported more than 100 earthquakes in Lohi in mid-May. Officials said the earthquake activity could have represented a brief eruption or the movement of magma inside the volcano.

There are no monitoring instruments on the deep-water volcano and measurements are taken from stations on the larger island.

Lohi is likely to break the sea surface one day and form a new island. Scientists can’t predict how long this will take because it depends on the rate of the explosion, but they say it could happen in about 200,000 years.

Seamounts are either active or dormant volcanoes that rise from the bottom of the ocean. They are hotspots for marine life as they carry nutrient-rich water upstream from the ocean floor.

The seamount is believed to cover about 18 million square miles of the planet.


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