USGS Volcano Hazards Program Volcano Update


HVO update page and observatory web site


Activity Summary: In the past 24 hours, the eruption continued at two locations. The summit tiltmeter network recorded continuing weak DI deflationary tilt and the lava-lake level dropped a few more meters. At the middle east rift zone, the Pu`u `O`o vent continued to feed the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow which was burning forest to the northeast. Gas emissions remained elevated.

Recent Observations at Kilauea summit: The summit tiltmeters continued to record weak DI deflationary tilt (almost 3.5 microradians over the past 3.5 days) and the lava-lake level dropped another few meters to an estimated 55-56 m (180-184 ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u 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 during the period of 01/08-01/21 due to the absence of moderate trade-winds. 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 a few dropouts. Eighteen earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea Volcano in the past 24 hours: 3 within the southwest rift zone, 7 on south flank faults, 6 scattered within the upper east rift zone, and 2 in the Ka`oiki Pali area. GPS receivers spanning the summit caldera recorded changes mimicking the recent tilt changes after about recording 1.5 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 minor fluctuations. The most recent sulfur-dioxide emission-rate measurement was 250 tonnes per day on December 24, 2013, 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 mimicking the tilt changes after recording almost 1.5 cm of extension since mid-December 2013.

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 the westernmost one now collapsed and hosting an active lava pond (see images). The northeast spatter cone complex continued to feed the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow which extended 7.8 km (4.8 mi) northeast of Pu`u `O`o (per 01/24 mapping) before stalling during the most recent strong DI event. Over the past few days, the flow reactivated 4.8-5.6 km (3-3.5 mi) northeast of Pu`u `O`o and was burning forest at the north edge of the flow (based on PNcam views); however, activity may be again waning as a result of continuing deflation at the summit and Pu`u `O`o.

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 - 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; the lava flows do not pose an imminent hazard to any structures not already within the County-declared mandatory evacuation zone. 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

Update in Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) format