Hazard Notification System (HANS) for Volcanoes

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HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY DAILY UPDATE
U.S. Geological Survey
Tuesday, December 7, 2021, 11:00 AM HST (Tuesday, December 7, 2021, 21:00 UTC)


KILAUEA VOLCANO (VNUM #332010)
19°25'16" N 155°17'13" W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

Activity Summary: Kīlauea volcano is erupting from a single vent in the western wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater as of this morning, December 7, 2021. Lava re-entered the vent and resumed erupting between 5:30 and 6:00 PM HST last night, ending the pause that began on the afternoon of Friday, December 3. All recent lava activity remains confined within Halemaʻumaʻu crater in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Summit Observations: The eruption of lava restarted from the western vent in Halema‘uma‘u crater the evening of Monday, December 6, at approximately 5:30 PM. By 6 PM, lava was flowing out from the vent. Both ground inflation and tremor (a seismic signal associated with magma movement) peaked around 9 PM last night. Summit tiltmeters have shown deflation since then and earthquake activity remains below background.
The most recent measurement of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates on November 29, 2021 was approximately 1200 tonnes per day. No new measurements have been made due to recent weather conditions.

Halemaʻumaʻu Lava Lake Observations: Lava has resumed erupting from a single vent in the western wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater after a 3 day pause in activity. Friday afternoon, the rate of lava eruption from the western vent decreased sharply along with a dramatic reduction in tremor and the start of deflationary tilt. Lava re-emerged from the vent at about 6 PM last night and had covered the prior extent of the active lava lake by about 3 AM this morning, December 7, 2021. The eastern edge of the lake that advanced onto the lowest of the exposed down-dropped caldera floor blocks remains stagnant. This is the fourth and largest such decrease in eruption vigor or pause since the eruption began on September 29 and none of the prior events lasted more than 24 hours before eruptive activity resumed. The western end of the lake has shown little change in maximum elevation over the prior several days, with HVO’s permanent laser rangefinder showing an elevation of approximately 809 meters (2654 ft) prior to the instrument going off-line on December 3 due to weather-related events. The lake has seen a total increase of about 65 meters (213 ft) since lava emerged on September 29. Webcams have shown spatter and ponded lava within the west vent, an area of active lava at the surface of the lava lake, and sporadic oozes of lava along the cooler outer lake margins. The total erupted volume since the beginning of the eruption was estimated to be about 30 million cubic meters (7.8 billion gallons) on November 16.

East Rift Zone Observations: No unusual activity has been noted in the Kīlauea East Rift Zone and there were no indication lava migrated in that direction during the pause. Low rates of ground deformation and seismicity continue along the rift zones. SO2 and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emissions from Puʻuʻōʻō were below instrumental detection levels when last measured on January 7, 2021.

Hazard Analysis: This new eruption at Kīlauea’s summit is occurring within a closed area of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Therefore, high levels of volcanic gas are the primary hazard of concern, as this hazard can have far-reaching effects down-wind. Large amounts of volcanic gas—primarily water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)—are continuously released during eruptions of Kīlauea Volcano. As SO2 is released from the summit, it reacts in the atmosphere to create the visible haze known as vog (volcanic smog) that has been observed downwind of Kīlauea. Vog creates the potential for airborne health hazards to residents and visitors, damages agricultural crops and other plants, and affects livestock. For more information on gas hazards at the summit of Kīlauea, please see: https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/fs20173017. Vog information can be found at https://vog.ivhhn.org/. 

Additional hazards include Pele's hair and other lightweight volcanic glass fragments from the lava fountains that will fall downwind of the fissure vents and dust the ground within a few hundred meters (yards) of the vent (s). Strong winds may waft lighter particles to greater distances. Residents should minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation. 

Other significant hazards also remain around Kīlauea caldera from Halemaʻumaʻu crater wall instability, ground cracking, and rockfalls that can be enhanced by earthquakes within the area closed to the public. This underscores the extremely hazardous nature of Kīlauea caldera rim surrounding Halemaʻumaʻu crater, an area that has been closed to the public since early 2008. 

For discussion of Kīlauea hazards, please see: https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hawaiian-volcano-observatory/hazards 

Please see the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park website for visitor information: https://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm. Visitors to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park should note that under southerly (non-trade) wind conditions, there is potential for a dusting of powdery to gritty ash composed of volcanic glass and rock fragments. These ashfalls represent a minor hazard, but visitors should be aware that dustings of ash at areas around the Kīlauea summit are possible. 

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) continues to closely monitor Kīlauea Volcano.

HVO will continue to issue daily Kīlauea Volcano updates until further notice. Additional messages will be issued as needed.


More Information:
Kīlauea activity summary also available by phone: (808) 967-8862
Kīlauea webcam images: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/webcams
Kīlauea photos/video: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/photo-video-chronology
Kīlauea lava-flow maps: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/maps
Kīlauea FAQs: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/faqs

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Summary of volcanic hazards from eruptions: https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hawaiian-volcano-observatory/hazards

Recent earthquakes in Hawaiʻi (map and list): https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hawaiian-volcano-observatory/earthquakes

Explanation of Volcano Alert Levels and Aviation Color Codes: https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/volcano-hazards/about-alert-levels

CONTACT INFORMATION:

askHVO@usgs.gov

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is one of five volcano observatories within the U.S. Geological Survey and is responsible for monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawaiʻi.