5.3 magnitude quake rattles Kilauea's summit; no tsunami generat - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

5.3 magnitude quake rattles Kilauea's summit; no tsunami generated

Seismic activity and steam explosions at the summit of Kilauea have been happening on an almost regular basis, and scientists say this is no coincidence (Image: USGS) Seismic activity and steam explosions at the summit of Kilauea have been happening on an almost regular basis, and scientists say this is no coincidence (Image: USGS)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Large earthquakes and explosions continue at the summit of Kilauea, with one happening at least once a day.

The latest large temblor to strike the summit happened about 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

It was a magnitude 5.3, and no tsunami was generated.

Hawaii County Civil Defense said the quake was caused by a blast wave from a gas explosion. 

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said the explosion also resulted in a small ash plume that may affect surrounding areas.

Thursday marked the ninth day in a row that there was an earthquake above a magnitude of 5.0 at the summit.

None of them were strong enough to trigger a tsunami, and all of them were caused by explosive eruptions at the summit. 

Seismic activity in the region has been high since early May, as eruptions continue at Kilauea.

And the U.S. Geological Survey said it's no coincidence that the uptick in large quakes and steam explosions is happening almost routinely.

Over a 24- to 36-hour period, small earthquakes are building up until an ash explosion occurs at the summit, experts say.

"Following the explosion at the summit, the seismicity will sharply drop off, and then gradually begin to build up as we approach the next summit explosion," said Alex Demas, of the USGS.

Demas said these are not traditional earthquakes, like where rock breaks along a fault line, but it's what he calls a pressure wave from the explosion.

"So as long as the summit explosions continue, there likely will be earthquakes and ground shaking associated with the explosion," he said.

Most are centered at the summit of Kilauea volcano, and the vast majority are small (under magnitude 2.5).

But there have also been a number of bigger quakes.

But the biggest quake so far associated with ongoing eruptions of Kilauea was on May 4, when a 6.9-magnitude tremor shook the island. The temblor was felt as far away as Oahu, and caused some minor damage. 

Chip McCreery, director of PTWC, said the quake was the largest to strike the Big Island since November 1975, when a tremor centered two miles off Kalapana Beach was measured at a magnitude 7.2.

This story will be updated.

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