USGS HVO Press Release - Lava Returns to Kīlauea Volcano's east rift zone

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HAWAI‘I ISLAND, Hawai‘i — Following an almost 17-day pause in eruptive activity, lava is once again visible on Kīlauea Volcano's east rift zone according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

At 10:09 a.m. HST on Saturday, March 26, 2011, lava returned to the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater. HVO Webcam images (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/cams/POcam/) showed lava slowly filling the deepest parts of the crater.

An abrupt deflation occurred about the same time that lava appeared in the crater, but the deflation then switched to inflation by 11:00 a.m. The eruption of lava was also heralded by a brief seismic tremor burst, in which tremor levels doubled and then began to slowly decrease.

At 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Jim Kauahikaua, HVO's Scientist-in-Charge, said, "Lava is currently confined to the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater and, so far, poses no threat to structures within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park or outside Park boundaries."

On March 5, the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater floor, on which nearly 75 m (250 ft) of lava had accumulated during the past year, began to collapse around 2:00 p.m. Three hours later, a fissure opened southwest of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō and began erupting fountains of lava from active vents that eventually extended to Nāpau Crater.

Lava continued to erupt from the Kamoamoa fissure until the night of March 9, when all activity on Kīlauea's east rift zone paused. Since then, no lava had erupted from east rift zone vents until today.

Kauahikaua stated that additional information about the return of lava to Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō will be posted on HVO's Web site as it becomes available.

Daily updates about ongoing eruptions, recent images and videos of summit and East Rift Zone volcanic activity, maps, and data about recent earthquakes in Hawaii are posted on the HVO website at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo

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