- Current Update, last updated May 22, 2013 09:06 HST:
Activity Summary: At the summit, tiltmeters recorded the onset of DI deflation at about 11 AM yesterday and a return to DI inflation at about 7 AM this morning. The lava lake level mimicked the tilt change. At the middle east rift zone, there was no lava activity within Pu`u `O`o crater, but the Kahauale`a II lava flow remained active north of Pu`u `O`o. To the southeast, the Peace Day flow had active breakouts on the pali and coastal plain, but most of the flow stayed in its lava tube until reaching the ocean on both the east and west sides of the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park boundary. Gas emissions from the volcano remained elevated.
Recent Observations at Kilauea summit: The summit tiltmeter network recorded the onset of DI deflationary tilt at about 11 AM yesterday (May 22). Deflation continued until about 7 AM this morning, when tilt switched to inflation. The summit lava lake level mimicked tilt and dropped to a lower level during the deflation. The level has not yet begun to rise but is expected to as inflation progresses. Shortly before midnight last night, a large slice of fresh lava veneer, attached to the vent wall on the northwest side of the lava lake, collapsed into the lake and caused it to briefly slosh back and forth.
The most recent sulfur dioxide emission rate measurement was 700 t/d on May 14, 2013; this value is a minimum because the data are acquired close to the vent where the plume is most dense and challenging to fully characterize; new measurements must await the return of moderate trade winds. The plume also contained a very small amount of ash-sized tephra (mostly fresh spatter bits and Pele's hair) that was deposited on nearby surfaces. Seismic tremor levels were low, but variable, rising and falling with changes in spattering on the lava lake surface.
Five earthquakes that were strong enough to be located occurred beneath Kilauea Volcano in the past 24 hours - one beneath the southern edge of the summit caldera, one on south flank faults, one beneath the southwest rift zone, one offshore to the southwest, and one north of the middle east rift zone. The GPS receivers located on either side of the summit caldera recorded a small amount of extension during the first half of May, but since then only small variations probably related to DI events.
Background: The summit lava lake is within a ~160 m (520 ft) diameter cylindrical vent with nearly vertical sides inset within the east wall and floor of Halema`uma`u Crater. Its level has varied from about 25 m to more than 200 m (out of sight) below the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater. The vent has been mostly active since opening with a small explosive event on March 19, 2008. The surface level of the lava lake has remained mostly below the inner ledge (~31 m or 100 ft below the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater on October 29, 2012) and has risen above and flooded the ledge in October 2012 and January 2013 before receding to greater depths. The lake level responds to summit tilt changes with the lake receding during deflation and rising during inflation.
Recent Observations at the middle east rift zone vents: There were no lava flows in Pu`u `O`o, but incandescence was visible overnight at spatter cones on the crater floor. The tiltmeter on the north flank of Pu`u `O`o cone recorded small variations probably related to rainfall, and did not obviously respond to the DI event that started yesterday. GPS receivers on the north rim and south base of Pu`u `O`o cone recorded no significant change over the past few weeks. The most recent (preliminary) sulfur dioxide emission rate measurement was 300 tonnes/day on April 26, 2013, from all east rift zone sources; these values have ranged between 150 and 450 t/d in 2013; measurements are made at a greater distance from the sources where the plume is more easily characterized.
The Kahauale`a II lava flow continued to spread slowly down the northern flank of Pu`u `O`o and across the old `a`a flats at its base. The flow is approaching but has not yet reached the forest edge, which is about 1.6 km (1 mile) to the north of Pu`u `O`o. Southeast of Pu`u `O`o, the Peace Day flow has a small, persistent breakout on the pali in the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision, and other breakouts are scattered across the coastal plain. One branch of the coastal plain breakouts is very close to the National Park boundary, and may even be partly within the National Park, about a kilometer (0.6 miles) out from the base of the pali. Most of the Peace Day flow, however, is contained within its tube system, which empties into the ocean in at least two places - a main entry point just east of the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park boundary, and a smaller entry point just inside the National Park.
HAZARD ALERT: Lava entering the ocean builds lava deltas. The lava delta and adjacent areas are some of the most hazardous areas on the flow field. Frequent delta/bench collapses give little warning, can produce explosions capable of throwing both dense and molten rocks hundreds of meters (yards) in all directions (inland as well as out to sea), and can produce damaging local waves. The steam plume produced by lava entering the ocean contains fine lava fragments and an assortment of acid droplets that can be harmful to your health. The rapidly changing conditions near the ocean entry have been responsible for many injuries and a few deaths.
Background: The eruption in Kilauea's middle east rift zone started with a fissure eruption on January 3, 1983, and continued with few interruptions at Pu`u `O`o Cone, or temporarily from vents within a few kilometers to the east or west. A fissure eruption on the upper east flank of Pu`u `O`o Cone on Sept. 21, 2011, drained the lava lakes and fed a lava flow (Peace Day flow) that advanced southeast through the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision to the ocean within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park in early December 2011. Since late December 2011, the flows have remained intermittently active on the pali and the coastal plain and finally re-entered the ocean starting on November 24, 2012. The Kahauale`a flow, which started from the spatter cone/lava lake at the northeast edge of the Pu`u `o`o crater floor in mid-January, 2013, was dead by late April. In general, activity waxes with inflation and wanes with deflation.
Hazard Summary: East rift vents and flow field - near-vent areas could erupt or collapse without warning with spatter and/or ash being wafted within the gas plume; potentially-lethal concentrations of sulfur dioxide gas may be present within 1 km downwind of vent areas. All recently active lava flows are within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, adjacent State land managed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and private property; the lava flows do not pose a hazard to any structures not already within the County-declared mandatory evacuation zone. Lava deltas, which can collapse into the ocean without warning, are extremely hazardous and should be avoided (see HAZARD ALERT above). Kilauea Crater - ash and Pele's hair can be carried several kilometers downwind; potentially-lethal concentrations of sulfur dioxide can be present within 1 km downwind.
Viewing Summary: East rift zone flow field - Most of the flow field is within the closed-access Kahauale'a Natural Area Reserve (NAR) and the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision and can only be viewed from the air. A small part of the western flow field near the coast in within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park (see below for access info). Under favorable weather conditions, active flows-when present-can be seen from the County Viewing Area at Kalapana (Lava hotline 961-8093). Pu`u `O`o Cone and Kilauea Crater - these areas are within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park; Park access and viewing information can be found at http://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/lava2.htm.
- Volcanic History Overview: Kilauea volcano is one of the most active and best studied volcanoes in the world and is renowned for the accessability of her eruptions. Throughout her history, Kilauea has erupted from three main areas, its summit and two rift zones. Kilauea currently has a summit caldera, but it may not always have been evident. Most eruptions are relatively gentle, sending lava flows downslope from fountains a few meters to a few hundred meters high. Over and over again these eruptions occur, gradually building up the volcano and giving it a gentle, shield-like form. Every few decades to centuries, however, powerful explosions spread ejecta across the landscape. Such explosions can be lethal, as the one in 1790 that killed scores of people in a war party near the summit of Kilauea. Such explosions can take place from either the summit or the upper rift zones. Kilauea has erupted more than 60 times in the past 150 years. The current eruption began in 1983.
- Location: Hawaii and Pacific Ocean, HI
Elevation: 1247 m
Recent Eruption: Ongoing
- Hazard Assessments: Kauahikaua. Jim, 2007, Lava Flow Hazard Assessment, as of August 2007, for Kīlauea East Rift Zone Eruptions, Hawai`i Island, Open-File Report 2007-1264.
- Link to monitoring data: Recent Earthquakes in Hawaii Page
Volcanic Alert Level: WATCH Aviation Color Code: ORANGE