Volcano Watch — Eruption continuing at Kīlauea, but little action seen

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Kīlauea Volcano continues to erupt from the Kupaianaha vent on the East Rift Zone, while the episode 49 fissure that opened between Pu`u `O`o and Kupaianaha on Friday, Nov. 8, has shut down in the last few days. 

Kīlauea Volcano continues to erupt from the Kupaianaha vent on the East Rift Zone, while the episode 49 fissure that opened between Pu`u `O`o and Kupaianaha on Friday, Nov. 8, has shut down in the last few days. The volume of lava moving down the Waha`ula tube from Kupaianaha decreased slowly since the middle of the summer until the start of the episode 49 fissure eruption, when the volume of lava decreased precipitously. The flow within the tube system nearly ceased during the later parts of the eruption. However, since last week, the volume in the tube has increased again and may be comparable to that in August.

Volcanic tremor, indicative of underground magma migration, continues at moderate-to-low levels beneath the upper East Rift Zone. During the early part of the episode 49 eruption, the summit deflated as magma moved from beneath the summit, down the rift zone, to the adjacent eruptive vents of Kupaianaha and episode 49. In the last two weeks, the summit has again been reinflating.

The renewed flow in the Waha`ula tube is feeding a 1-km-long, fluid pahoehoe flow that issued from a break in the tube at about the 1,900-foot-level. This flow is advancing downslope just east of the `a`a flows erupted during episode 49. An active lava pond was sighted Wednesday in the Pu`u `O`o vent for the first time since episode 49 began four weeks ago.

Magma continues to move upward into Mauna Loa Volcano as it has since the end of the last eruption in 1984. The rate of magma supply to the volcano has increased during the last year, but the generally low levels of seismic activity suggest that an eruption is unlikely within the next year.

In conjunction with the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, Mauna Loa has recently been declared a Decade Volcano by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI). The major criteria for the selection of Decade Volcanoes are that they be active, hazardous, in a populated area and not thoroughly studied. The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is expanding the monitoring and mapping programs on Mauna Loa in response to both the increasing likelihood of an eruption and the new international focus on Mauna Loa.