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6/17/2007

Scientists watching series of small Kilauea quakes

Breaking Earth News
Hawaii, USA
A swarm of more than 70 shallow, relatively small earthquakes jolted the upper East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano this morning, prompting the National Park Service to evacuate tourists and campers on the chance that the quakes might signal a dramatic, unexpected change in the ongoing eruption.
Jim Kauahikaua, scientist-in-charge of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said the earthquake swarm began at 2:15 a.m., and said there had been small earthquakes about every minute or starting at about 6 a.m.
"It looks like the rift has expanded a bit, possibly to accommodate magma, and the earthquakes are accompanying that process," Kauahikaua said. "It's kind of going on for a long time, but we're keeping an eye on it." An intrusion of lava into new underground cavities in the volcano could cause the magma to escape to the surface at a new, unexpected area of Kilauea, Kauahikau said.
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