Earthquakes hit Hawaii volcano

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A series of earthquakes hit Hawaii's Big Island, where a volcano is spewing lava, on Friday. The latest quake, at about 12:33 p.m. local time, registered a preliminary magnitude of 6.9, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  That would be the largest quake to hit the island in 40 years.

Authorities have evacuated 1,500 people from communities near the Kilauea volcano. Some moderate to heavy shaking was reported across the island.

The recent earthquakes are hitting the southeast side of the island, directly south of the Hilo airport and military base.  People reported nearly constant ground shaking in the area due to the frequency of temblors in the past several days. 

The 6.9M quake Friday is the latest and largest in a series of hundreds of small earthquakes to shake the island's active volcano, Kilauea, since the Puu Oo vent crater floor collapsed and caused magma to rush into new underground chambers. Scientists say a new eruption in the region is possible.

Friday's large earthquake is in almost exactly the same location as a deadly 1975 magnitude  7.1 earthquake.

The largest quake hit:

15 km (10 miles) SE (138 degrees) of Fern Forest, HI

16 km (10 miles) SSE (151 degrees) of Eden Roc, HI

16 km (10 miles) SW (226 degrees) of Leilani Estates, HI

38 km (23 miles) S (171 degrees) of Hilo, HI

362 km (225 miles) SE (126 degrees) of Honolulu, HI

No Tsunami watches or warnings were posted after the earthquake.

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has been releasing red lava into a residential subdivision, prompting the county to order mandatory evacuations.