Portion of Mauna Loa used for hiking shut down due to seismic activity

Elevated seismic activity on Mauna Loa, a mountain in Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, led park officials this week to shut down the backcountry part of the mountain’s summit.

The Mauna Loa summit backcountry is usually open for hiking but is now closed until further notice. Other portions of the mountain remain open to the public.

“Mauna Loa Road and the Mauna Loa Lookout at 6,662 feet elevation remain open to the public,” the National Park Service said.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) indicated that the mountain is not erupting; the seismic activity in question is a rise in earthquakes over the past few months.

Earthquake activity on Mauna Loa has risen from five daily events to 10 in June, to 10-20 per day in July and August, up to 40 to 50 in the last two weeks.

“Peak numbers of over 100 earthquakes per day occurred on Sep. 23 and Sept. 29,” the HVO status report said.

The mountain last erupted in 1984 but this did not cause any fatalities.

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