USGS Volcano Hazards Program Volcano Update


HVO update page and observatory web site


Activity Summary: Kilauea continued to erupt at two locations: At the summit, DI inflation and rising of the lava lake surface started last night. At Pu`u `O`o crater, small flows issued from each of the south spatter cones, the small lava lake was active, and glow was visible from the other usual sources. To the southeast of Pu`u `O`o, a lava flow was active on the coastal plain and dribbling into the ocean in three general areas near the National Park boundary. A second lava flow continued to advance across the coastal plain. Seismic tremor levels were low and gas emissions were elevated.

Recent Observations at Kilauea summit: After 3.5 microradians of DI deflation, the summit tiltmeter network recorded the start of another DI inflation at 9 pm last night. The lava lake level mimicked tilt and, after continuing to drop, reversed and started to rise last night. The most recent (preliminary) sulfur dioxide emission rate measurement was 600 tonnes/day on January 10, 2013; this value is a typical background emission rate between rise/fall events. A very small amount of ash-sized tephra (mostly fresh spatter bits and Pele's hair) was likely carried out of the vent in the gas plume and deposited on nearby surfaces.

Seismic tremor levels were low. Twelve earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea Volcano in the past 24 hours: 3 deep quakes beneath the middle east rift zone and 9 on south flank faults clustered between Poliokeawe and Holei pali.

Background: The summit lava lake is deep within an ~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 below the inner ledge (~31 m or 100 ft below the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater on October 29, 2012) and has not risen above and flooded the ledge since October 28, 2012. 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: Lava activity continued on the coastal plain. An approximately 1 km-wide (0.6 mi wide) lava flow remained active on the coastal plain with minor scattered surface activity near the coast straddling the easternmost boundary of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Diffuse, weak ocean entry plumes were visible in Webcams from three general areas along the coast across the National Park boundary. To the west, another flow continued to advance across the coastal plain from the lower pali. This breakout was still active at sunrise this morning and doesn't seem to have been affected by the short DI deflation that is now over.

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.

After 1 microradian of DI deflation, the tiltmeter on the north flank of Pu`u `O`o cone recorded the start of DI inflation at about 3 am this morning - 6 hours after the start of summit DI inflation. A small flow issued from the southeast spatter cone around 7 am yesterday and from the southwest spatter cone around 1 am this morning while glow was observed from the other usual sources on the crater floor. Lava lake levels at Pu`u `O`o remained high and the lava continuing to circulate. Seismic tremor levels near Pu`u `O`o remained low. The most recent (preliminary) sulfur dioxide emission rate measurement was 250 tonnes/day on January 7, 2013, from all east rift zone sources.

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 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. 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 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.

Update in Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) format