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March 20, 2022

The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded a magnitude-4.5 earthquake located beneath Mauna Kea's northwest flank on Sunday, March 20, at 7:30 a.m., HST.  

U.S. Geological Survey

19°49'12" N 155°28'12" W, Summit Elevation 13796 ft (4205 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN


The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded a magnitude-4.5 earthquake located beneath Mauna Kea's northwest flank on Sunday, March 20, at 7:30 a.m., HST.

The earthquake was centered about 21 km (13 miles) southeast of Waimea, Island of Hawai‘i, at a depth of 23 km (14 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

Moderate shaking, with maximum Intensity of V on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, has been reported. At that intensity, damage to buildings or structures is not expected. The USGS has received over 440 felt reports within the first hour of the earthquake on their "Did you feel it?" website (

The region surrounding Mauna Kea's summit has persistent deep earthquake activity, with over 30 earthquakes located at depths greater than 20 km every year. These earthquakes are typically small. The northwest flank of Mauna Kea has experienced 9 earthquakes greater than magnitude-4.0 within the past 60 years. Deep earthquakes in this region are most likely caused by the structural adjustment of the Earth’s crust due to the heavy load of Mauna Kea.

According to HVO acting Scientist-in-Charge David Phillips, “This earthquake was widely felt across the Island of Hawai‘i and throughout the state. Please be aware that aftershocks are possible and may be felt. This earthquake is not related to volcanic activity and HVO data streams show no impact on Mauna Loa or Kīlauea at this time. The eruption of Kīlauea continues, with all recent activity confined to the summit within Halema’uma’u crater and with no indications of activity migrating elsewhere. HVO continues to monitor Hawaiian volcanoes for any changes.”

HVO will issue additional messages and alert level changes as warranted by changing activity. For information on recent earthquakes in Hawaii and eruption updates, visit the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website at

Background: Mauna Kea is a shield volcano in the post-shield stage; it last erupted about 4,600 years ago. Monitoring is conducted using three seismometers and one GPS receiver on the volcano, plus instruments on adjacent Kohala volcano and denser seismic and geodetic networks on the north flank of Mauna Loa to the south. From its base on the ocean floor, Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on earth rising 4,205 m above sea level.

More Information:
Mauna Kea volcano summary also available by phone: (808) 967-8877
Mauna Kea website:

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Summary of volcanic hazards from eruptions:
Recent earthquakes in Hawaiʻi (map and list):
Explanation of Volcano Alert Levels and Aviation Color Codes:


The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is one of five volcano observatories within the U.S. Geological Survey and is responsible for monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawaiʻi.

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