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Magma moving at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano; eruption uncertain

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday it has raised its alert level for Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano due to signs that magma is moving below the surface of the mountain’s summit.

It’s not clear whether the shifting magma will lead to an eruption, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a public notice. Kilauea’s summit is inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and away from residential communities.

Kilauea is Hawaii’s most active volcano. It last erupted for 16 months starting in September 2021. For about two weeks starting Nov. 27, Hawaii had two volcanoes erupting side by side when Kilauea’s larger neighbor, Mauna Loa, erupted for the first time in 38 years. Both volcanoes stopped erupting at about the same time.

Kilauea’s alert level is now “watch” meaning the volcano is showing “heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.” It’s unclear if any eruption might occur as a result of these changes. The observatory has also changed its aviation color code warning for aircraft.

The observatory said it detected increased earthquakes and changes in patterns of ground deformation — or the way the ground swells, sinks or cracks — at Kilauea’s summit early Thursday morning.