Photo and Video Chronology - Kīlauea - November 20, 2019

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Monitoring gases and investigating thermal areas.

USGS scientists monitor gases on Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone 

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On November 8, 2019, USGS volcano scientists visited Kīlauea's Lower East Rift Zone to measure ambient gases, as well as the soil carbon dioxide (CO2) flux and temperature. This photo, looking in a southeast direction, shows some steaming uprift of the 2018 fissure system. Steaming in this area is the result of continued migration of heat due to movement of subsurface ground water as the area recovers from the 2018 eruption. USGS image by P. Nadeau. (Public domain.)

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USGS scientists measured gases in an area uprift of the 2018 fissure system on November 8. In this area, vegetation has died because of lingering heat and steam. In some areas of Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone, residents report smelling gases that are likely generated by decaying organic matter rather than magma degassing. USGS image by P. Nadeau. (Public domain.)

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In Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone, a closed chamber was used to measure the rate of CO2 emitted directly from the ground near a crack emitting steam. USGS scientists continue to track changes in Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone after last year's eruption. USGS image by P. Nadeau. You can read more about the lingering heat and gases in Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone in this Volcano Watch article. (Public domain.)

USGS scientists investigate Puhimau thermal area on Kīlauea

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During November 4-6, an interdisciplinary group of USGS scientists, including an ecologist, a botanist, and volcano scientists, collected gas samples for chemical and isotopic analysis and made measurements of soil CO2 flux and soil temperature. The data will be used to create CO2 flux and temperature maps, which will be compared to earlier studies to assess change over the last several decades in the Puhimau thermal area within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. USGS image by P. Nadeau. (Public domain.)

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USGS scientists collect gas from the Puhimau thermal area on Chain of Craters Road in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The gas is collected in evacuated (vacuum-pumped so that no gas at all is inside) glass bottles, and a system of a syringe with tubing helped ensure minimal contamination by ambient atmospheric gases. Samples will be analyzed for bulk chemistry and helium isotopes, which can help identify the extent of deep magmatic degassing. USGS image by P. Nadeau. (Public domain.)

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USGS scientists collect gas from the Puhimau thermal area on Chain of Craters Road in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The gas is collected in evacuated (vacuum-pumped so that no gas at all is inside) glass bottles, and a system of a syringe with tubing helped ensure minimal contamination by ambient atmospheric gases. Samples will be analyzed for bulk chemistry and helium isotopes, which can help identify the extent of deep magmatic degassing. USGS image by P. Nadeau. (Public domain.)

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Puhimau thermal area has the largest naturally occurring population of the endangered plant, Portulaca sclerocarpa (marked by the blue flag in the photo), and is the site of National Park Service restoration efforts for this species. Plant size and vigor were recorded for plants in the proximity of the CO2 and temperature measurements to determine how these abiotic parameters may be influencing plant survivorship and growth. The data collected in this study will be used to inform volcano monitoring, hazards mitigation, and vegetation and area management efforts. USGS image by P. Nadeau. (Public domain.)

 

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Retired USGS botanist Linda Pratt, USGS research geologists Patricia Nadeau and Jennifer Lewicki, and USGS chemist Tamar Elias (left to right) are part of a team investigating a critically endangered succulent plant, Portulaca sclerocarpa, in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park's Puhimau thermal area. Invasive species, like the broomsedge grass shown here, may contribute to low Portulaca population growth rates. (Credit: Stephanie Yelenik, USGS. Public domain.)