Although volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes often occur in response to magma intrusion, it is rare for them to have magnitudes larger than ~M4. On 24 May 2007, two shallow M4+ earthquakes occurred beneath the upper part of the east rift zone of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i. An integrated analysis of geodetic, seismic, and field data, together with Coulomb stress modeling, demonstrates that the earthquakes occurred due to strike-slip motion on pre-existing faults that bound Kīlauea Caldera to the southeast and that the pressurization of Kīlauea's summit magma system may have been sufficient to promote faulting. For the first time, we infer a plausible origin to generate rare moderate-magnitude VTs at Kīlauea by reactivation of suitably oriented pre-existing caldera-bounding faults. Rare moderate- to large-magnitude VTs at Kīlauea and other volcanoes can therefore result from reactivation of existing fault planes due to stresses induced by magmatic processes.
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Moderate-magnitude earthquakes induced by magma reservoir inflation at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i