A powerful earthquake measuring magnitude 6.9 has struck just off the Big Island of Hawaii as numerous smaller jolts, including a 5.4 tremor, shook the island in the past hours, amid ongoing volcanic eruption.

The US Geological Survey has upgraded the severity of the earthquake off the Big Island in Hawaii to a 6.9 on the Richter scale, roughly an hour after it was registered.

The Kilauea Volcano erupted in the Lower Puna district of Hawai'i, known as the "Big Island" of the Hawaiian Island chain, which is home to roughly 200,000 people and a haven for tourists and adventure seekers.

A notice from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) provides the following details:

The eruption in the Leilani Estates subdivision in the lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano that began in late afternoon of May 3rd ended by about 6:30 p.m. HST. Lava spatter and gas bursts erupted from the fissure for about two hours, and lava spread a short distance from the fissure, less than about 10 m (33 ft).

The HVO deployed geologists to the eruption site overnight, and other scientists are monitoring various data streams to the observatory 24/7.


Continues below

The latest update from the USGS - 5/4/18, 5:45pm UTC An eruption is in progress along Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone. Since late afternoon May 3, at least three small fissure vents have opened in Leilani Estates subdivision in the lower Puna district. At this time, activity consists mostly of vigorous lava spattering. Additional outbreaks in the area are likely. Deflationary tilt at the summit of the volcano continues and the lava lake level continues to drop. 

USA: Drone captures mesmerising lava flow from Kilauea volcano

Drone footage captured an immense lava flow pushing through forest as smoke billowed from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano on Friday, as its sudden eruption forced local residents to abandon their homes. Hawaii authorities ordered the evacuation of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardenson on Hawaii’s Big Island as lava started to flow towards residential areas. The lava effusion follows hundreds of earthquakes which have been recorded over past days, with magnitudes wavering between 2 and 5.

Image by USGS

Image by USGS