Volcano Watch — Episode 51 vents become active again

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The episode 51 vents once again became active early Monday morning after a brief pause since the previous Thursday morning. Prior to this last pause, eruptive activity had been continuous since June 21.

Episode 51 vents become active again...

Episode 51 vents become active again

(Public domain.)

The episode 51 vents once again became active early Monday morning after a brief pause since the previous Thursday morning. Prior to this last pause, eruptive activity had been continuous since June 21. The episode 51 vents are located just west of the Pu`u `O`o cinder and spatter cone on the East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano. Episode 51 has been characterized by intermittent activity since it began on March 7, but lately the periods of eruptive activity have been getting longer and the non-eruptive pauses shorter.

Last week we noted that the pause in activity did not indicate that the eruption as a whole was over. We forecast the rising of the pond inside Pu`u `O`o over the next few days or weeks, and resumption of activity at the same location. This is exactly what occurred following the four-day pause in activity. We also noted that it was unclear how much of the lava tube that developed during the previous eruptive interval could be reoccupied by lava when the vent started up again. It is now apparent that the tubes formed during the previous eruptive period are blocked, and a new tube system will have to develop which will slow the advance of flows. All activity is now confined to the south side of the low lava shield that formed during episodes 50 and 51, as shown by the stars on the figure. As this activity continues, the flows should once again begin to advance to the south inside Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. No structures are threatened by these flows or future flows from the same vents.

The lava lake inside Pu`u `O`o remains active at a depth greater than 200 feet below the rim of the cone. This lava lake glows at night, and its large plume can be seen from Highway 11, or from the lookout atop Pu`u Huluhulu on the Napau Trail in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

This week the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will host a workshop in Hilo to develop a comprehensive plan to assess the earthquake hazards in the State of Hawai`i. Scientists from a number of universities will join a group from the U.S. Geological Survey to develop an action plan for the future. In addition, several groups using hazard information, including County Planning and Civil Defense, will attend and advise the scientists on the information they require to mitigate the effects of future earthquakes and to have an emergency response plan for such events.

Later this week, the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at the University of Hawai`i at Hilo is sponsoring a forum on earthquake, tsunami, and volcano hazards in Hawai`i. This forum is open to the public and will occur on Thursday in the University Campus Center Room 306/307 starting at 9:00 a.m.

The opening session will be a panel discussion and question-and-answer session with David Clague, Scientist-in-Charge of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (and author of most of these "Volcano Watch" columns); Harry Kim, Director of Hawaii County Civil Defense; George Curtis, a research scientist at the Joint Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research; Carl Johnson, Assistant Professor at the University of Hawai`i at Hilo; and Robert Decker, Visiting Professor of Geophysics at the University of Hawai`i at Hilo and a former Scientist-in-Charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The panel discussion will be followed by a series of short presentations about earthquake, tsunami, and volcano hazards in Hawai`i. For further information call Darcy Bevens at 933-3631 or 933-3640.