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USGS HVO Information Statement—Magnitude-4.4 earthquake on Kīlauea Volcano’s south flank 

December 20, 2020
The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded a magnitude-4.4 earthquake located beneath Kīlauea Volcano's south flank on Sunday, December 20, at 10:36 p.m. HST. 

The earthquake was centered about 14 km (8.7 miles) south of Fern Forest, near the Hōlei Pali area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at a depth of 6 km (4 miles). A map showing its location is posted on the HVO website at More details are available at the National Earthquake Information Center website at 

Weak to light shaking, with maximum Intensity of IV, has been reported across the Island of Hawai‘i.  At that intensity, significant damage to buildings or structures is not expected.  The USGS "Did you feel it?" service ( received over 500 felt reports within the first hour of the earthquake.  

According to HVO acting Scientist-in-Charge David Phillips, “HVO continues to monitor Kīlauea as the situation is rapidly evolving with this evening’s eruption at the summit of Kīlauea. We will send out further notifications on Kīlauea and other Hawaiian volcanoes as we observe changes.”  

Kīlauea's south flank has been the site of over 30 earthquakes of magnitude-4.0 or greater during the past 20 years. Most are caused by abrupt motion of the volcano's south flank, which moves to the southeast over the oceanic crust. The location, depth, and waveforms recorded as part of today's earthquake are consistent with motion along the south flank detachment fault.  

For information on recent earthquakes in Hawaii and eruption updates, visit the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website at