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Magnitude 3.4 earthquake strikes near Mauna Loa

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    This map shows the location of an earthquake, estimated at magnitude 3.4, that struck near Mauna Loa this morning.

A magnitude 3.4 earthquake struck near the summit of Mauna Loa on Hawaii island this morning, in an area where there has been increased seismic activity over the last several months.

The earthquake, recorded at 7:49 a.m., was centered about 28.4 miles east-southeast of Kailua-Kona and 39.9 miles west-southwest of Hilo at a depth of 1.8 miles.

The earthquake was not widely felt and there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

“It’s the latest in a series of earthquakes at Mauna Loa,” said Brian Shiro, the seismic network manager at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The observatory raised the alert status at Mauana Loa in September of last year to advisory or yellow, which means activity at the still-active volcano is above background levels, but it does not mean an eruption is imminent or certain, Shiro said.

Today’s earthquake does not change that status, he said.

Earthquakes in the area are sometimes related to the movement of magma. Today’s earthquake happened in the upper southwest rift zone of Mauna Loa, about 3 miles from a magnitude 4.1 earthquake near the summit caldera on Sept. 6, Shiro said. There was a swarm of earthquakes in the southwest rift zone in July.

The earthquakes are likely not related to recent earthquakes near Kilauea, Shiro said.

Two other earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher struck this weekend in the upper East Rift Zone of Kilauea.

On Sunday, a magnitude 3.0 earthquake struck at about 5:08 a.m. and a magnitude 3.2 earthquake struck in the same area at about 3:50 p.m. Saturday.

Earthquakes in the East Rift Zone are likely related to the movement of magma.

In addition, a series of small earthquakes near the summit of Kilauea Saturday are believed to be related to pressure at the summit because of the the high lava lake level at Halemaumau Crater.

Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984.

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