- Current Update, last updated Mar 8, 2014 06:45 HST:
Activity Summary: The eruption continued at the summit and within the east rift zone on International Women's Day. The summit tiltmeter network recorded weak inflationary tilt and the summit lava-lake level fluctuated slightly. At the middle east rift zone, the Pu`u `O`o vent continued inflating and feeding the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow whose distal end remained active and burning forest to the northeast but had not advanced substantially for several months. Gas emissions remained elevated.
Recent Observations at Kilauea summit: The summit tiltmeters recorded weak inflationary tilt and the lava-lake level fluctuated a bit and was at about 43 m (141 ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u crater this morning. Gas emissions continued to be elevated: during the week of 01/01-01/07, the summit SO2 emission rate varied between 3,300 and 5,800 tonnes/day (see caveat below); however, no reliable emission rate measurements could be made over the past several months due to the persistent absence of moderate trade-winds except for a few brief periods during which the emission rates were measured at values within the range of 1,000 to 6,000 t/d (representing conditions of no spattering to spattering lake conditions). Although not measured this morning, a small amount of ash-sized tephra (mostly fresh spatter bits and Pele's hair from the circulating lava lake) was probably carried out of the vent within the gas plume and deposited onto nearby surfaces.
Seismic tremor levels were low with three dropouts. Nineteen earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea Volcano in the past 24 hours: 2 beneath the summit caldera, 5 within the upper east rift zone, and 12 scattered on the south flank faults. GPS receivers spanning the summit caldera recorded changes mimicking the recent tilt changes after recording about 3 cm of extension since early December, 2013; the long-term, cross-caldera measurements indicate continued extension at a rate averaging 10 cm/yr (4 in/yr) since March, 2010.
Background: The summit lava lake is within a nearly-cylindrical vent cavity with a diameter of ~160 m (520 ft) and 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 generally receding during deflation and rising during inflation.
Recent Observations at the middle east rift zone vents: The tiltmeter at Pu`u `O`o cone recorded continued inflationary tilt (1.5 microradians over the past 2.5 days). The most recent sulfur-dioxide emission-rate measurement was 300 tonnes per day on January 29, 2014, from all east rift zone sources; emission rates typically ranged between 150 and 450 t/d since July 2012. GPS receivers on the north rim and south flank of Pu`u `O`o cone recorded fluctuations mimicking the tilt changes while also recording about 3 cm of extension over the past 3 months. The Pu`u `O`o eruption continued with no significant changes. Spatter cones on the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater displayed persistent glow with an open lava pond within the collapsed northeast spatter cone (see images and video).
Recent Observations of the Kahauale`a 2 flow: The northeast spatter cone complex continued to feed the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow; HVO geologists on a March 07 overflight mapped the most distant active breakout at 7.9 km (4.9 mi) northeast from Pu`u `O`o; this is the farthest advance of the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow since mid-January when the flow extended to 7.8 km (4.6 mi) northeast of Pu`u `O`o before stalling. PNcam and occasional R3cam views showed smoke during the day from lava-induced fires along the north edge of the flow front and, overnight, distant glow from several active breakouts.
In general, this slow-moving lava flow has made erratic progress over the past few months. Disruption of the flow front has occurred during strong DI deflation events when the lava supply abruptly decreased causing the flow front to stagnate. DI inflation and resumption of lava supply usually follow a few days later. Breakouts reappear well behind the stalled flow front and take some time to reach the front again. In this way, the flow front has not advanced more than 600 m (2,000 ft) since the first time it stalled in early November, 2013.
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. The flows stalled and re-entered the ocean starting on November 24, 2012 until activity started to decline and the ocean entry ceased in August 20, 2013; the flow was dead by early November, 2013. 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, but a new flow (informally called Kahauale`a 2) became active in the same general area in early May. In general, activity waxes with inflation and wanes with deflation.
Hazard Summary: East rift vents and flow field - the Kahauale`a 2 flow does not pose any immediate threat to residential areas; 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. Active lava flows within forest can produce methane blasts that propel rocks and other debris into the air. All recently active lava flows are within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and adjacent State land managed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources or the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. 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) or the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve (DLNR, OHA) and can only be viewed from the air. Under favorable weather conditions at night, distant glow from the active flows can be seen from the County Viewing Area at Kalapana (Lava hotline 961-8093) and from the end of the Chain of Craters Road within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. 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.
Sulfur Dioxide Emission Rate estimation caveat: Starting in 2014, we report the emission rate estimated by a new, more accurate method. The numbers increase by a factor of 2-4 but the actual emission rate has not changed. For more on this reporting change, please read http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/view.php?id=207
- 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