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Learn More about Hawaiian Volcanic Activity and History

The State of Hawaii is home to six active volcanoes—Mauna Kea, Hualālai, Mauna Loa, and Kīlauea on the Island of Hawai‘i, Haleakalā on the Island of Maui, and Lō‘ihi, a submarine volcano south of the Island of Hawai‘i. These volcanoes are classified as "active" because they have erupted within the past 10,000 years and have the potential to erupt again.

Kīlauea has been erupting nearly non-stop since 1983, when a vent opened on the volcano's East Rift Zone. Since then, lava flows have buried 55 square miles of public and private land, destroying vast tracts of native forest, about 9 miles of highway, and 215 structures, including homes, a church, and a National Park Service visitor center. This eruption is ongoing.

In 2008, a second vent opened at the summit of Kīlauea, where an active lava lake resides within Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Given the crater's history—Halema‘uma‘u was home to nearly continuous lava lakes for over 100 years in the 19th and early 20th centuries—this eruption could continue for decades.

Mauna Loa erupted most recently in 1984, and it will erupt again. In 2015, the Volcano Alert Level for Mauna Loa was elevated from "Normal" to "Advisory" due to increased rates of seismicity and ground deformation, which are above long-term background levels. HVO continues to closely monitor the volcano.

The State of Hawaii also experiences thousands of earthquakes every year. Most of them are small and closely related to volcanic processes, but hundreds are strong enough to be felt on one or more island, and some are large enough to cause damage. Since 1868, more than 30 magnitude-6.0 or greater earthquakes have rattled Hawaii. The probability of a magnitude-6.5 or higher earthquake striking the Hawaiian Islands in the next 10 years is 50 percent.

Ongoing eruptions, volcanic unrest, and potential earthquakes are all reminders of why it's important for Hawaii residents and visitors to be aware of and understand Hawaiian volcanoes and earthquakes.

Annual Events

  • Volcano Awareness Month – During the month of January, HVO offers a series of public talks around the Island of Hawai‘i to promote awareness of Hawaiian volcanoes. The schedule of speakers is posted on HVO's website a month or so before the talks begin in January.

    You can view some of HVO's past Volcano Awareness Month presentations (2010-2017) through videos posted in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park's After Dark in the Park - Video Archives.

  • Great Hawai‘i ShakeOut – On the third Thursday of October, Hawaii residents are encouraged to practice "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" during the Great Hawai?i ShakeOut, an annual awareness and preparedness event.

    It's important to know how to protect yourself and your family when the next strong earthquake hits Hawaii. "Recommended Earthquake Safety Actions" and additional information and helpful resources are posted on the ShakeOut website.