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Reprinted from here.

Lava Flowing Down the Pali to the Waikupanaha Ocean Entry, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Lava Flowing Down the Pali to the Waikupanaha Ocean Entry, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

KILAUEA VOLCANO (CAVW#1302-01-)
19.42°N 155.29°W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

This report on the status of Kilauea volcanic activity, in addition to maps, photos, and webcam images (available using the menu bar above), was prepared by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park status can be found at http://www.nps.gov/havo/ or 985-6000. Hawai`i County Viewing Area status can be found at 961-8093.

Activity Summary for last 24 hours: The final inflation portion of a DI tilt event is in progress. Sulfur dioxide emission rates from the Halema`uma`u and the Pu`u `O`o vents remain high although the emissions from Pu`u `O`o have been decreasing since August. Tephra production from the Halema`uma`u vent remains small. At the east rift eruption site, the flow of lava has paused.

Last 24 hours at Kilauea summit: Weak winds produced poor air quality during most of the last 24 hours. Vent glow was too weak to be recorded by the webcam overnight. This morning, winds above 300 m (1,000 ft) are moving the gas plume to the southwest; winds closer to the ground are weaker resulting in voggy air. GOES-WEST imagery shows the plume moving southwest inland of the coast.

Small amounts of tephra continued to be produced, the collections continue to consistent mostly of glassy spatter. In addition to sounds resembling distant surf, rock falls and rolls could also be made out from the vent.

Sulfur dioxide emission rates remain elevated and variable. The most recent average measurement was 500 tonnes/day on October 24, compared to the 2003-2007 average rate of 140 tonnes/day.

The network of tiltmeters within Kilauea caldera recorded the inflation portion of the ongoing DI tilt event starting at about 2 am. The GPS receiver networks (less sensitive than tiltmeters) recorded small changes but no significant extension or contraction over the past two weeks.

Seismic activity continued to be focused on the south caldera; tremor levels dropped with the start of inflation. A total of 17 earthquakes were located beneath Kilauea or nearby, including 5 beneath the south caldera and none on south flank faults, with the number of RB2S2BL earthquakes increasing to around 50/day.

Last 24 hours at the middle east rift zone vents and flow field: Magma continues to degas through Pu`u `O`o Crater. The most recent sulfur dioxide measurement of 1,100 tonnes/day on October 24 is below the 2005-2007 average of about 2,000 tonnes/day for this vent; Pu`u `O`o emission rates have been slowly declining since early August. No incandescence was observed within the crater overnight.

Pu`u `O`o continues to deflate/collapse. The tiltmeter on the north side of Pu`u `O`o recorded no change in tilt since noon yesterday; the Pu`u `O`o tiltmeter has not yet responded to the DI inflation in progress at the summit. GPS stations spanning the crater (less sensitive than tiltmeters) recorded weak contraction across the crater. Seismic tremor levels near Pu`u `O`o and the TEB vent remain at low values and still haven’t responded to the ongoing DI tilt event.

Lava from the TEB vent and the rootless shield complex has paused. The ocean entry plume was very small and only intermittently active yesterday through last night. Incandescence was seen high on the pali above Royal Gardens and from the TEB vent overnight and this morning. GOES-WEST thermal anomalies continued to weaken overnight suggesting that surface flows are no longer active. This morning, CD officials report no active ocean entry.

For more information on touring Hawaii in general and visiting the Big Island in particular, please go to tourguidehawaii.com and tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Aerial View of the Lava Flowing Into the Ocean; Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Aerial View of the Lava Flowing Into the Ocean; Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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Reprinted from here.

This near-vertical view reveals a vigorously bubbling lava surface below the rim of the vent within Halema`uma`u crater. Continuous spattering was casting globs of lava across the lake surface and onto the conduit walls.

For the first time since the new vent opened in Halema’uma’u Crater on March 19, HVO scientists in a helicopter hovering over the crater were able to see the surface of a sloshing 50 m (160 ft) diameter lava lake about 100 m (330 ft) below the vent rim. HVO scientists have speculated that a lava pond existed a few hundred meters below the vent, but have not been able to get visual confirmation until this morning.

A second viewing early this afternoon revealed a roiling pond with multiple bursting bubbles changing into a central upwelling circulation pattern. The lake level dropped slightly before the cycle restarted. This behavior has been witnessed before, most recently in Pu’u ‘O’o vents and the July 21 lava ponds on Kilauea’s east rift zone, and is known as “gas pistoning.” One model explains pistoning as small gas bubbles coalescing into larger bubbles beneath a crust on a lava pond, rising to the surface, and then bursting. The released pulse of hot gas carries rock dust from the collapsing vent walls, bits of the lava lake crust, and small amounts of spatter.

The Halema’uma’u vent has produced six significant explosive eruptions in the past 5.5 months, most recently on September 2, 2008 at 8:13 p.m. H.s.t., during which noteworthy amounts of fresh lava spatter and lithic material (rock fragments and dust) were ejected on to the crater rim. Just prior to this event, incandescence from the vent was almost nonexistent except for brief pulses of glow.

Nearly eight hours later, Kilauea’s summit abruptly inflated, signaling the end of 39 hours of deflation. Summit deflation-inflation (DI) events have been observed at least 20 times since the Halema’uma’u vent opened. Each DI event has been interpreted as the fall and subsequent rise in magma levels beneath the summit.

Less than 8 hours after inflation started, episodic tremor bursts began which are visible at night as pulses of bright incandescence every 5-6 minutes. Episodic tremor bursts have been a nearly constant feature of the Halema’uma’u vent over the past few months and were one of the early pieces of evidence pointing toward a gas pistoning source.

This unusually bright incandescence over the past two nights and the volume of material erupted on September 2 are consistent with a lava surface at relatively shallow depths beneath the vent. Molten lava is not directly visible from the Jaggar Museum overlook, but that vantage point provides excellent views of the glowing vent at night.

For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and visiting the Big Island in particular, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Reprinted from here.

An exciting end to June at Kīlauea

A littoral explosion at dusk. Explosions such as this have been common throughout the last several weeks at the Waikupanaha entry.  June 29, 2008.
A littoral explosion at dusk. Explosions such as this have been common throughout the last several weeks at the Waikupanaha entry. June 29, 2008.

One of the most surprising aspects of the current summit eruption at Kīlauea Volcano, which started in March of this year, is that there has been almost no change in surface deformation trends. Past summit eruptions have been accompanied by rapid inflation prior to the start of an eruption, followed by equally rapid deflation. During the present period, however, the summit of Kīlauea has shown no change from the trend of gradual deflation since July 21, 2007, when the eruption site migrated about 2 km (1.5 miles) downrift from Pu`u `Ō`ō. No change, that is, until just a few weeks ago.

On June 24, tiltmeters at Kīlauea’s summit and at Pu`u `Ō`ō began showing inflation-the first time sustained inflation has occurred at both sites since July 21, 2007.

In addition to the change in ground deformation, other types of monitoring data indicated a shift in the style of eruptive activity. Throughout early and mid-June, the intensity of the glow from the summit vent had decreased, relative to the strong glow seen in April and May. In late June, however, the summit vent began glowing brighter.

The intensity of the glow, in fact, correlates with bursts of seismic tremor that occur every few minutes, with more glow during the tremor bursts and less between bursts. These tremor bursts also increased in magnitude and frequency in late June. The correlation between tremor and glow led HVO scientists to infer that gas bubbles were bursting through a crusted lava surface beneath the Halema`uma`u vent. Increases in the strength of both the glow and tremor bursts may have indicated rising of the lava surface.

Another late June change in activity was the occurrence of surface lava flows from the east rift zone for the first time in several weeks. Lava broke out of the tube system, both on the east rift zone and above the Royal Gardens subdivision. At the same time, enough lava was being transported through the tube system to result in spectacular littoral explosions at the ocean entry during early July. All of these signs point to a lava tube system that was full to the point of overflowing.

Taken together, this evidence suggests that Kīlauea was engorged with magma, starting in late June. Increased magma in the caldera and east rift areas resulted in inflation of the summit and Pu`u `Ō`ō and, possibly, rising of the lava column in the Hamema`uma`u vent. Magma was also being delivered to the eruption site at a greater rate than normal, resulting in the numerous surface lava flows.

What might be the result of such activity? It is conceivable that more magma within Kīlauea’s plumbing system could result in a change in the east rift zone eruption site, much like that which occurred in mid-2007. Lava might even erupt from the Hamema`uma`u vent, forming a lava lake at the summit.

Of course, Pele seems to enjoy keeping us on our toes. On July 1, deformation at Pu`u `Ō`ō stabilized, and the summit began to deflate, suggesting that even more magma was being fed from the summit to the east rift zone eruption site. Lava flow activity on the east rift zone and above Royal Gardens continued to increase. On July 7, a spectacular fountain formed near the TEB (Thanksgiving Eve Breakout) vent, possibly due to partial blocking of the lava tube system. At the summit, however, the intensity of glow from the Halema`uma`u vent has waned, suggesting that, at least for the moment, volcanic activity will focus on the east rift zone.

The weeks since June 24 have been a significant departure from “normal” trends of deformation during the current summit eruption, and also saw the most surface lava flow activity in several months. What caused Kīlauea to suddenly fill with magma and, just as suddenly, begin to drain?

One explanation is that the lava supply to Kīlauea fluctuates on timescales of days to weeks, causing rapid changes in surface deformation and eruptive activity. Although the causes of these fluctuations are not clear, the variations obviously are an important control on the activity we observe at the surface.

HVO will remain vigilant for future changes in the amount of magma coursing through Kīlauea’s veins. Such activity should be easy to detect, given the excellent seismic, deformation, gas, and visual monitoring of the volcano, both at the summit and along the east rift zone. We invite you to follow along by checking HVO’s Webcams, data plots, and daily activity updates available at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

Activity update

Kīlauea Volcano continues to be active. A vent in Halema`uma`u Crater is erupting elevated amounts of sulfur dioxide gas and very small amounts of ash. Resulting high concentrations of sulfur dioxide in downwind air have closed the south part of Kīlauea caldera and produced occasional air quality alerts in more distant areas, such as Pahala and communities adjacent to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, during kona wind periods.

Pu`u `Ō`ō continues to produce sulfur dioxide at even higher rates than the vent in Halema`uma`u Crater. Trade winds tend to pool these emissions along the West Hawai`i coast. Kona winds blow these emissions into communities to the north, such as Mountain View, Volcano and Hilo. As of this writing (July 10), the gas vent below the east rim of Pu`u `Ō`ō was spattering weakly, with some spatter reaching the crater rim. At least two other vents within the Pu`u `Ō`ō crater were also spattering. The one near the western end of the crater was spattering vigorously and sporadically, feeding a small lava pond on the crater floor.

Lava continues to erupt from fissure D of the July 21, 2007, eruption and is supplying several breakouts along the 2007 Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) tube system above the pali and near the top of Royal Gardens. Activity was quite vigorous early in the week, feeding multiple breakouts, including a 10-15-m-high lava fountain. By July 10, activity had diminished, with only sparse surface flows observed.

Lava also continues to flow through what remains of Royal Gardens and across the coastal plain to the ocean in a well-established lava tube active now for several months. When the surface activity intensified upslope early in the week, the Waikupanaha ocean entry diminished significantly and appeared nearly inactive. Full vigor had returned by July 10, with small explosions and a large plume.

Be aware that lava deltas could collapse at any time, potentially generating large explosions. This may be especially true during times of rapidly changing lava supply conditions, as have been seen lately. Do not venture onto the lava deltas. Even the intervening beaches are susceptible to large waves generated during delta collapse; avoid these beaches. In addition, steam plumes rising from ocean entries are highly acidic and laced with glass particles. Check Civil Defense Web site (http://www.lavainfo.us) or call 961-8093 for viewing hours.

Mauna Loa is not erupting. Two earthquakes were located beneath the summit this past week. Continuing extension between locations spanning the summit indicates slow inflation of the volcano.

Four earthquakes beneath Hawai`i Island were reported felt within the past week; all occurred on Tuesday, July 8, 2008. A magnitude-2.7 earthquake occurred at 00:06 a.m., H.s.t., and was located 2 km (1 mile) southwest of Kīlauea summit at a depth of 1 km (1 mile). A magnitude-3.2 earthquake occurred at 00:38 a.m. and was located 3 km (2 miles) southwest of Kīlauea summit at a depth of 400 m (0.2 miles). A magnitude-2.8 earthquake occurred at 7:36 a.m. and was located 5 km (3 miles) northwest of Pa`auilo at a depth of 9 km (5 miles). A magnitude-1.8 earthquake occurred at 10:09 p.m. and was located 3 km (2 miles) southeast of Captain Cook at a depth of 8 km (5 miles).

Visit our Web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov) for daily Kīlauea eruption updates, a summary of volcanic events over the past year, and nearly real-time Hawai`i earthquake information. Kīlauea daily update summaries are also available by phone at (808) 967-8862. Questions can be emailed to askHVO@usgs.gov.


For more information on touring Hawaii in general, or visiting the Big Island in particular, go to www.tourguidehawaii.com and here. skip past bottom navigational bar

Reprinted from the U.S. Geological Survey, here.

What to worry about in Kilauea volcanic emissions…

Vog.
Vog.

Even with the focus on sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) and vog, inquisitive individuals have asked about other things emitted by Kilauea volcano. Here’s the rest of the story.

First, let’s review why we worry about SO2. Kilauea is currently producing up to 4,000 tonnes/day of SO2, resulting in concentrations in air greater than 5 parts per million (ppm) in downwind communities within 50 km (31 miles). Sustained concentrations greater than 0.3 ppm are considered unhealthy. During its journey through the air, the SO2 reacts with oxygen, sunlight, and water to form vog, a mixture of gas and tiny sulfuric acid aerosol droplets. This aerosol mixture appears as a dense haze that obscures Hawaiian scenery and ocean views. The acidic droplets in vog are small enough that they can be inhaled deep in the lung and can pose health problems. In addition to the effects on living creatures, the acid mist can acidify rain and burn the leaves of plants, including many agricultural crops, such as protea, roses, fruits, and vegetables.

The most abundant constituent of eruptive emissions is water, but that’s nothing to worry about. We can always use more water, and Kilauea adds more than 4,000 gallons per minute in the form of water vapor to the Earth’s water supply. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the second most abundant constituent in Kilauea emissions. Current CO2 emission rates are about 10,000 tonnes/day. We already have CO2 in concentrations of 0.04 percent and more in the air that we breathe, thanks to human-generated emissions. Fortunately, plants photosynthesize some of this to make oxygen. CO2 is heavier than air and can be a problem in low-lying areas immediately downslope of a volcanic vent when its concentrations exceed 5 percent. Worldwide, human activities produce more than 100 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes. So although Al Gore is worried about CO2 he isn’t blaming volcanoes.

Water, SO2, and CO2 comprise about 99 percent of Kilauea’s emissions. All the other constituents together account for the remaining 1 percent and there are many of them. Hydrogen (H2), Hydrogen Chloride (HCl), Hydrogen Fluoride (HF), and Carbon Monoxide (CO) are the principal minor constituents. Of these, H2 and CO are already in the atmosphere at trace levels.

Hydrogen chloride combines with moisture in the air to acidify rain and burn vegetation. HCl is also produced by a chemical reaction where lava enters the sea.

Gaseous hydrogen fluoride (HF) is emitted at rates of around 0.2 tonnes/day from Kilauea and is therefore generally not a direct problem; however, fluoride is deposited on the leaves of downwind vegetation and is not metabolized by the plants. Animals grazing on the tainted forage can get fluorosis and ultimately die if the fluoride amounts are high enough. Very few studies have been done on the fluoride content in Hawai`i vegetation around Kilauea. Fortunately, no fluorosis symptoms have been reported in Hawaiian grazers recently.

But wait, there’s more. About one tonne/day, combined, of various metals, such as lead, copper, gold, silver, zinc, bismuth, and mercury are emitted by Kilauea. There are many more components present in trace amounts – in fact, it’s probably easier to name elements that are not present in Kilauea emissions than to list all the ones that are.

Taken all together, much of the Earth’s metallic ores, oceans, and atmosphere owe their presence to volcanic emissions. We have many things for which to thank volcanoes; we just don’t want all of them right in our neighborhood airspace.

Hawaiian volcanoes have always emitted these gases and metals in varying amounts. The emissions are currently high, but probably not higher than during the 251 days of the 1967-68 Halema`uma`u eruption or from the lava lake that existed throughout much of the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the island population has increased, and land uses have changed substantially since these past long-lived summit eruptions. More people and diverse crops are exposed than ever before. Most of the exposed individuals are unaware of this long history.

HVO continues to watch the summit activity closely and to track the rate of emission of sulfur dioxide, the main gas hazard – and public concern.

Activity update

Kilauea Volcano continued to be active at two locations: a vent in Halema`uma`u Crater is erupting elevated amounts of sulfur dioxide gas and very small amounts of ash. The resulting high concentrations of sulfur dioxide in downwind air have closed the south part of Kilauea caldera and produced occasional air quality alerts in more distant areas, such as Pahala, during trade wind cycles and communities adjacent to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park during kona wind periods. Pu`u `O`o continued to produce sulfur dioxide at even higher rates than the vent in Halema`uma`u Crater. Trade winds tend to pool these emissions along the West Hawai`i coast. Kona winds blow these emissions into communities to the north, such as Mountain View, Volcano and Hilo.

The new gas vent observed last week inside Pu`u `O`o has remained active, with no notable change. Lava from the 2007 Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) flow, erupting from fissure D of the July 21 eruption, continues to flow through what remains of the Royal Gardens subdivision and across the coastal plain to the ocean within well-established lava tubes. Over the past week, the Waikupanaha ocean entry has remained active, with occasional small explosions and a vigorous plume.

The public should be aware that lava deltas could collapse at any time, potentially generating large explosions in the process. This may be especially true during times of rapidly changing lava supply conditions, as have been seen lately. Do not venture onto the lava deltas. Even the intervening beaches are susceptible to large waves that are suddenly generated during delta collapse; these beaches should be avoided. In addition, the steam plumes rising from the ocean entries are highly acidic and laced with glass particles. Check the County of Hawaii Civil Defense Web site (http://www.lavainfo.us) or call 961-8903 for information on public access to the coastal plain and ocean entry.

Mauna Loa is not erupting. Three earthquakes were located beneath the summit. Continuing extension between locations spanning the summit indicates slow inflation of the volcano.

Two earthquakes beneath Hawai`i Island were reported felt within the past week. A magnitude-1.9 earthquake occurred at 7:23 a.m., H.s.t., on Friday, May 30, 2008, and was located 2 km (1 mile) southwest of Pu`ulena Crater in Puna at a depth of 3 km (2 miles). A magnitude-2.6 earthquake occurred at 6:29 p.m. on Tuesday, June 3, and was located 6 km (4 miles) north of Ka`ena Point at a depth of 8 km (5 miles).

Visit our Web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov) for daily Kilauea eruption updates and nearly real-time Hawai`i earthquake information. Kilauea daily update summaries are also available by phone at (808) 967-8862. Questions can be emailed to askHVO@usgs.gov. skip past bottom navigational bar

For more information about touring Hawaii in general, and the Big Island in particular, visit here and here. To see videos about how to view the lava flows on Kilauea, Big Island go here or here.

Both opague and glassy crystals are native, or pure, sulfur. The glassy crystal is about
2 mm (0.08 inches) long. Photo by M. Sako

After the series of explosions at Halema`uma`u Crater, the overlook area appeared to be a stark, boulder-strewn field completely devoid of life. To the casual observer, little beauty could be seen in this otherworldly landscape. But on closer inspection, the field of rocks that covers Halema`uma`u reveals an array of colors – rocks blood-red and ochre, canary yellow, pinks of every hue, and a broad range of whites. These colors can appear as non-glossy lacquer, or as a brilliant glass, reflecting light. Photos don’t do justice to the astonishing beauty of these rocks. But under the microscope their radiance is clearly revealed.

Some of the minerals have familiar names, like sulfur and gypsum. Others are, perhaps, more foreign, like alunite and jarosite. Individual colors usually cannot be assigned to specific minerals, because many mineral share the same, or similar, colors. Because of this, a geologist in the field uses a combination of color, shape (also known as crystal habit), and other physical characteristics to identify a mineral.

At Halema`uma`u, however, the number of minerals present is relatively small, and some generalizations based on color can be made. For example, the canary-yellow rocks are almost always composed of native sulfur. Perhaps you’ve seen the conspicuous yellow patches of ground in Halema`uma`u or at Sulfur Banks. Native sulfur is a very common mineral at volcanic fumaroles around the world.

The ochre, blood-red, or yellowish-red rocks are usually iron-oxide minerals, like hematite or goethite. These minerals are also very common in volcanic terrains.

The white minerals at Halema`uma`u are among the most difficult to identify, because so many different minerals may take on this color. However, most of the white-colored rocks you see there are actually the white crusts formed by a family of related minerals known as sulfate salts. Gypsum is one of these salts.

As beautiful as these Halema`uma`u minerals can be, they are of little economic value. But as the saying goes, one person’s lead is another’s gold. Indeed, for a geologist seeking to understand how the volcano works, these minerals are priceless jewels.

By studying volcanic systems like Kilauea, geologists have come to understand that each mineral is formed from a recipe that specifies temperature, pressure, and chemical elements as ingredients. Changes in the recipe usually form specific minerals or families of minerals in a predictable fashion.

The rocks that were ejected from Halema`uma`u during the first explosion of March 19 contained a collection of minerals that resulted from a high-temperature recipe with relatively low amounts of sulfur and water. These observations suggest that the explosion was not caused by volcanic vapor interacting with lower-temperature ground water. Thus, we believe that the mechanism which caused the March 19th explosion differed from the ground-water-driven explosions at Halema`uma`u in 1924.

More recent rocks ejected from Halema`uma`u contain minerals that suggest a similar recipe to that of the March 19th explosion, but with an interesting twist; the family of sulfate salts (of which gypsum is a member) had subtlety changed. New members have shown up; sulfate-salt minerals, such as alunite and jarosite, have been seen in the mix. Although in the same family, these minerals differ from gypsum because they require a highly acidic broth of sulfur and water. Thus, their presence indicates that, deep within the cauldron of Halema`uma`u, the stew is becoming more acidic and sulfur-rich through time.

In the history of observations at Kilauea Volcano, this eruption marks the first time that these sorts of relationships have been recorded, along with other detailed observations, such as gas chemistry and temperature measurements. As such, our understanding of these processes is rapidly evolving. So as Halema`uma`u continues to brew, we walk out on that ostensibly stark landscape in search of more of these “jewels.”

We encourage readers to explore and learn more about minerals discussed in this article on line at Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) and WebMineral (www.webmineral.com).

Activity update

Kilauea Volcano continued to be active at two locations: a vent in Halema`uma`u Crater is erupting elevated amounts of sulfur dioxide gas and very small amounts of ash. The resulting high concentrations of sulfur dioxide in downwind air have closed the south part of Kilauea caldera and produced occasional air quality alerts in more distant areas, such as Pahala, during trade wind cycles and communities adjacent to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park during kona wind periods. Pu`u `O`o continued to produce sulfur dioxide at even higher rates than the vent in Halema`uma`u Crater. Trade winds tend to pool these emissions along the West Hawai`i coast. Kona winds blow these emissions into communities to the north, such as Mountain View, Volcano, and Hilo.

Lava from the 2007 Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) flow, erupting from fissure D of the July 21 eruption, continues to flow through what remains of the Royal Gardens subdivision and across the coastal plain to the ocean within well-established lava tubes. Over the past week, the Waikupanaha ocean entry has produced vigorous small explosions, with ejecta fallout limited to the new delta.

The public should be aware that lava deltas could collapse at any time, potentially generating large explosions in the process. This may be especially true during times of rapidly changing lava supply conditions, as have been seen lately. Do not venture onto the lava deltas. Even the intervening beaches are susceptible to large waves that are suddenly generated during delta collapse; these beaches should be avoided. In addition, the steam plumes rising from the ocean entries are highly acidic and laced with glass particles. Check the County of Hawai`i Civil Defense website (http://www.lavainfo.us) or call 961-8903 for information on public access to the coastal plain and ocean entry.

Mauna Loa is not erupting. One earthquake was located beneath the summit. Extension between locations spanning the summit, indicating inflation, has resumed following a period of stagnation.

No earthquakes beneath Hawai`i Island were reported felt within the past week.

Visit our Web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov) for daily Kilauea eruption updates and nearly real-time Hawai`i earthquake information. Kilauea daily update summaries are also available by phone at (808) 967-8862. Questions can be emailed to askHVO@usgs.gov.

For more information on visiting Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particular, visit here and here.

Professor Jaggar would have loved this view

From the USGS Volcano Watch Site, published April 24, 2008.

Gas geochemist Jeff Sutton does a duty shift in the HVO tower keeping an eye on the Halema`uma`u vent.
Gas geochemist Jeff Sutton does a duty shift in the HVO tower keeping an eye on the Halema`uma`u vent.

Unusual, tantalizing, mesmerizing. Adrenaline-spiking, mid-life crisis(?). These words have been used in our recent Volcano Watch reports as we present our observations and describe Kilauea Volcano’s behaviors related to and following the explosion that occurred at Halema`uma`u on March 19. The event has definitely been unique in our modern era of volcano watching.

It is important to recognize that the recent explosions on March 19, April 9, and April 16 are all quite small, compared to Halema`uma`u’s previous explosive sequence in 1924. We also need to understand that Halema`uma`u prior to 1924 was quite different from now, as it then contained an active lava lake.

At the same time, what we are experiencing is exactly why Thomas Jaggar established HVO at Kilauea in 1912.

The offices and labs of the U S Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory – modernized in 1987 and named the Reginald T Okamura Building in 2002 – are perched at cliff’s edge, overlooking Kilauea’s summit caldera with a view into Halema`uma`u.

Perhaps the most recognized feature of the Okamura Building is its tower providing a 360° view around HVO. Interestingly, the current Halema`uma`u activity is the first opportunity to observe and study an eruption from the tower since it was built,. Since March 19, HVO staff have maintained a round-the-clock caldera watch to observe and record changes occurring in Halema`uma`u. Visiting scientists Wendy McCausland, Mike Doukas, and Dan Dzurisin (former HVO staffer) from the USGS’s Cascades Volcano Observatory have provided crucial support by coming to HVO and manning the tower through the long midnight shift.

Time-lapse and video cameras have been mounted in the tower to record any visible changes at the vent. Images from the webcam are available on HVO’s public website at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/cam3/ along with Kilauea eruption updates at http://volcano.wr.usgs.gov/kilaueastatus.php . The most fun piece of equipment is a tripod-mounted, 2-foot-long pair of binoculars.

Also set up in the tower since March 19 is a computer with network access to all of HVO’s monitoring data streams. Displays of photographic, gas, geodetic, seismic, and thermal data are only a few mouse clicks and keystrokes away. Besides the obvious convenience, being able to look at diverse data on a single computer terminal – instead of running different programs on a number of different computers – affords the opportunity to develop more integrated and timely volcanological interpretations.

None of the above should be read to imply that HVO is simply looking at data that are automatically collected and piped into our computers. Important keys to eventually understanding what happened on March 19, as well as what we might reasonably expect to follow at Halema`uma`u, come from field sampling of both the gaseous and the solid emissions spewed from the vent.

Car traverses in the caldera are driven at least once per day when winds allow measurement of the gas composition of the Halema`uma`u plume. Also, once per day, ash and lava samples are carefully and systematically retrieved from numerous ash collectors placed on the caldera floor. Assessments of both the amount and compositions of these samples provide insights into what lies beneath the caldera and why Kilauea is behaving as we observe.

While HVO’s monitoring networks are already dense around Halema`uma`u, HVO scientists have deployed additional instruments to complement the permanent instrumentation. A continuously operating gravimeter is recording signals that might reflect increases or decreases in the magma mass stored beneath Kilauea caldera, and additional GPS receivers near Halema`uma`u are intended to improve resolution of smaller-scale ground surface movements around the vent. Groups of borrowed portable seismometers were temporarily deployed in small antenna-like arrays to help locate ultra-small earthquakes beneath the new vent.

As Halema`uma`u continues to entertain and intrigue, we maintain our enhanced observing. With contingency and continuity-of-operations plans in place, we expect that if Halema`uma`u should explode more violently; we will be doing much of the same – only not so close to ground-zero. Please continue to share our web postings at: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

Activity update

Kilauea summit and Pu`u `O`o continued to deflate after completing two DI tilt events this past week. Sulfur dioxide emission rates and seismic tremor levels have remained elevated at several times background levels. Earthquakes were located primarily beneath Halema`uma`u Crater and the adjacent areas, the southwest rift zone, and the south flank faults.

Lava from the 2007 Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) flow, erupting from fissure D of the July 21 eruption, continues to flow through what remains of the Royal Gardens subdivision and across the coastal plain. On Wednesday, March 5, the flow entered the ocean (Waikupanaha entry) in the vicinity of Kapa`ahu. The Waikupanaha delta has since grown to a width of about 1,000 m (3,280 ft) and has multiple entry points. On March 15, another branch of the flow reached the ocean (Ki entry) farther to the east, within a few hundred meters of the lava viewing area. During the past week, lava supply to the Ki entry ceased, though the Waikupanaha entries remain fully active.

The public should be aware that the ocean entry areas could collapse at any time, potentially generating large explosions in the process. The steam clouds rising from the entry areas are highly acidic and laced with glass particles. Do not venture onto the lava deltas. Even the intervening beaches are susceptible to large waves suddenly generated during delta collapse; these beaches should be avoided. Check the County of Hawai`i Civil Defense website (http://www.lavainfo.us) for information on public access to the coastal plain and ocean entry.

The surface flows active last week on TEB shield complex were stalled by Saturday, April 19, and no other surface flows in the shield complex area have been observed this week. Throughout the past week small breakouts from the tube system have been observed in the Royal Gardens subdivision.

No incandescence was observed at night in Pu`u `O`o in the past week, though minor incandescence has been sporadically present throughout the past few months. As in years past, Pu`u `O`o likely is serving as a large chimney, beneath which lava is briefly stored and substantially degassed on its way to the eruption site.

On March 11, a new fumarole appeared low on the southeast wall of Halema`uma`u Crater, within Kilauea’s summit caldera. The new vent is located directly beneath the Halema`uma`u Overlook about 70 m (230 ft) down. At 2:58 a.m. on March 19, a small explosion occurred from this fumarole. The explosion scattered rock debris over an area of about 75 acres, covering a narrow section of Crater Rim Drive, the entire Halema`uma`u parking area, and the trail leading to the overlook. The overlook was damaged by rocks that reached up to 90 cm (3 ft) across. No lava was erupted as part of the explosion, suggesting that the activity was driven by hydrothermal or gas sources. On April 9 another small explosion occurred, depositing dense blocks and particles of fresh lava on the overlook area. Last week, another small explosion from the vent occurred at 3:57am on April 16, producing a dusting of pale-red ash west of the crater. The new explosion pit continues to vigorously vent gas and ash, with the plume alternating between brown (ash-rich) and white (ash-poor). Fresh lava spatter, Pele’s tears and Pele’s hair have been collected at the rim, indicating that magma resides at shallow depths in the new conduit.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates from the summit area have been substantially elevated up to 10 times background values since early January; the emission rates for the past week have been decreasing but are still elevated. The increase in sulfur dioxide emission rates at the summit means that SO2 concentrations are much more likely to be at hazardous levels for visitor areas downwind of Halema`uma`u, especially during weak wind conditions or when winds blow from the south. Most people are sensitive to sulfur dioxide at these levels, especially children, individuals with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other breathing problems. Stay informed about SO2 concentrations in continuously monitored areas (Jaggar Museum and Kilauea Visitor Center) by visiting the Kilauea Visitor Center and the web at:
http://www2.nature.nps.gov/air/webcams/parks/havoso2alert/havoalert.cfm. To minimize these potentially harmful effects, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park has closed all access to the southern half of Kilauea caldera.

One earthquake beneath Hawai`i Island was reported felt within the past week. A magnitude-3.3 earthquake occurred at 7:08 p.m., and was located 10 km (6 miles) northwest of Pahala at a depth of 10 km (6 mile).

Mauna Loa is not erupting. One earthquake was located beneath the summit. Extension between locations spanning the summit, indicating inflation, has resumed following a few months of stagnation.

Visit our Web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov) for daily Kilauea eruption updates and nearly real-time Hawai`i earthquake information. Kilauea daily update summaries are also available by phone at (808) 967-8862.

To see video of exploring the lava flow, go here and here; for more information on exploring the Big Island, go here and here; for information on renting GPS-guided tours of the Big Island, go here to see a video demonstration of GPS-guided tours of the Big Island, go here.

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Kilauea Eruption Status

(Reprinted from the U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaii Volcano Observatory webpage)



Kilauea summit and Pu`u `O`o are slowly deflating. Seismic tremor levels at the summit are elevated to nearly moderate levels. Summit sulfur dioxide emission rates have remained elevated at nearly 10 times background levels since early January 2008. Earthquakes were located primarily beneath the general summit area, the southwest rift zone, and the south flank faults. Lava from the 2007 Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) flow, erupting from fissure D of the July 21 eruption, continues to flow through what remains of the Royal Gardens subdivision and across the coastal plain. On Wednesday, March 5, the flow entered the ocean in the vicinity of Kapa`ahu. The Waikupanaha delta has since grown to a width of about 1,000 m (3,280 ft) and has multiple entry points. On March 15, another branch of the flow reached the ocean farther to the east, within a few hundred meters of the lava viewing area. As of Thursday, March 20, both the Waikupanaha and Ki entries remained active, though the Waikupanaha entry is far more vigorous.

The public should be aware that the ocean entry areas could collapse at any time, potentially generating large explosions in the process. The steam clouds rising from the entry areas are highly acidic and laced with glass particles. Do not venture onto the lava deltas. Even the intervening beaches are susceptible to large waves suddenly generated during delta collapse; these beaches should be avoided. Check the County of Hawai`i Civil Defense website (http://www.lavainfo.us) for information on public access to the coastal plain and ocean entry.

In the past week, sporadic breakouts, some large enough to form channelized `a`a flows, have burst from the lava tube on the steep slopes within the Royal Gardens subdivision. A few of these have reached the base of the pali before stalling. Other breakouts have been spotted at the top of the pali near the upper boundary of the Royal Gardens subdivision. Closer to the TEB vent, an area of persistent breakouts on the northeast side of the shield complex also continues to produce small flows. These northeast-directed flows are restricted to a broad, flat area on the south side of Kupaianaha.

Weak incandescence has been intermittently observed at night in Pu`u `O`o in the past week. As in years past, Pu`u `O`o likely is serving as a large chimney, beneath which lava is briefly stored and substantially degassed on its way to the eruption site.

On March 11, a new fumarole appeared low on the southeast wall of Halema`uma`u Crater, within Kilauea’s summit caldera. The new vent is located directly beneath the Halema`uma`u Overlook about 70 m (230 ft) down. Incandescence could be seen at this vent, starting on March 13, and, by March 18 incandescence had grown to cover an area about 30 m (98 ft) across. At 2:58 a.m. on March 19, a small explosion occurred from this fumarole. The explosion scattered rock debris over an area of about 75 acres, covering a narrow section of Crater Rim Drive, the entire Halema`uma`u parking area, and the trail leading to the overlook. The overlook was damaged by rocks that reached up to 90 cm (3 ft) across. No lava was erupted as part of the explosion, suggesting that the activity was driven by hydrothermal or gas sources. The new explosion pit continues to glow at night, with incandescence reflecting on the fume emitted from the vent.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates from the summit area have been substantially elevated at 2-10 times background values since early January. During these conditions, SO2 concentrations frequently exceed 1 ppm for much of Crater Rim Drive between Halema`uma`u parking lot and the southwest rift zone. SO2 concentrations exceed 20 ppm for approximately 200 m (650 ft) of the road between the Halema`uma`u parking lot and the south caldera pullout.

The increase in sulfur dioxide emission rates at the summit means that SO2 concentrations are much more likely to be at hazardous levels for visitor areas downwind of Halema`uma`u, especially during weak wind conditions or when winds blow from the south. Most people are sensitive to sulfur dioxide at these levels, especially children, individuals with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other breathing problems. Stay informed about SO2 concentrations in continuously monitored areas (Jaggar Museum and Kilauea Visitor Center) by visiting the Kilauea Visitor Center and the web at:
http://www2.nature.nps.gov/air/webcams/parks/havoso2alert/havoalert.cfm. To minimize these potentially harmful effects, the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park has closed all access to the southern half of Kilauea caldera.

Two earthquakes beneath Hawai`i Island were reported felt within the past week. A magnitude-3.4 earthquake occurred at 2:22 a.m., H.s.t., on Friday, March 14, 2008, and was located 6 km (4 miles south of Mauna Loa summit at a depth of 3 km (2 miles). A magnitude-2.4 earthquake occurred at 2:28 p.m. on Saturday, March 15, and was located 2 km (1 mile) northwest of Pahala at a depth of 13 km (8 miles).

Mauna Loa is not erupting. One earthquake was located beneath the summit. The rate of extension between locations spanning the summit, indicating inflation, has decreased to values below current detection limits.

Visit our Web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov) for daily Kilauea eruption updates and nearly real-time Hawai`i earthquake information. Kilauea daily update summaries are also available by phone at (808) 967-8862.

For maps, photographs, and more current information see Kilauea’s eruption update page. Visit The Hawaii Center for Volcanology for captivating eruptive photos and a history of the eruption.

For more information on visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and seeing the volcano, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Ash, lava erupt from crater
by Erin Miller
Reprinted from the West Hawaii Today Tuesday, March 25, 2008 8:08 AM HST

Ash started spewing continuously from Halemaumau Crater Monday following a small eruption Sunday evening, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported Monday afternoon.

“It is significant,” Park Ranger Mardie Lane said. “It’s a huge ash plume.”

The ash is flowing from a new gas vent in the crater, and turned the fume cloud, which previously was white, to a “dusty-brown color,” Scientist-in-Charge Jim Kauahikaua said in a prepared statement. Sunday evening, incandescent particles were seen erupting from the vent below the Halemaumau Overlook; some of the particles were ejected with enough force to be deposited on the rim of the crater, HVO said. Geologists found Pele’s hair, Pele’s tears and spatter in the overlook area, signs of the first molten lava to erupt from the vent, which is now about 100 feet wide. It is also the first lava to erupt anywhere in Halemaumau since 1982. The largest fragments of spatter were about 4 inches.

The exact significance of the ash plume and changes in emissions levels is something scientists are studying, Mayor Harry Kim said.

“I asked that question, too,” said Kim, who is also the acting Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator. “The

answer so far is, we don’t know. This is the first time Halemaumau has emitted this amount of sulfur dioxide. The scientists are trying to make an assessment of what’s happening.”

Kim said a variety of county, state and federal agencies are working together to collect data from the new vent, to determine which warnings need to be issued to county residents. He reminded residents to be watchful of the vog, adding that sulfur dioxide levels could be elevated from normal without the telltale vog cloud, however.

An air space safety warning was issued for private and commercial aircraft, alerting pilots to the possibly safety hazards because of the emissions, Kim said.

Members of the Hawaii National Guard’s 93rd Civil Support unit were at the park Monday, helping county agencies measure sulfur dioxide emissions levels at the vent, as well as in other areas affected, Lt. Col. Trey Johnson said.

The team is conducting “hazard and risk assessments, identifying debris, and the location of sulfur dioxide emitting from the lava flow,” Johnson said. “It’s designed to get some tangible readings in accurate, real time.”

The data will be put into a program that, based upon current weather conditions, can show where the plume will drift. Members of the unit also hope to install five permanent monitors near the vent, to help to continue to track emissions, Johnson said.

For more information about seeing the lava or touring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park visit www.tourguidehawaii.com.