Volcano Watch — Volcano Watch (no. 4)

Release Date:

Kīlauea Volcano continues to erupt from both the Kupaianaha vent on the East Rift Zone and from a new fissure that opened the morning of November 8th between Pu`u `O`o and Kupaianaha. 
 

Volcano Watch (no. 4)...

Volcano Watch (no. 4)

(Public domain.)

Kīlauea Volcano continues to erupt from both the Kupaianaha vent on the East Rift Zone and from a new fissure that opened the morning of November 8th between Pu`u `O`o and Kupaianaha. 

The new eruption, which we are calling episode 49, is ongoing with quiet effusion of lava from one of the more easterly fissures in what began as a discontinuous, nearly one-mile-long series of fissures. The volume of erupting lava has decreased significantly compared to earlier in the eruption. `A`a flows have advanced about two miles downslope to the top of the Royal Gardens Subdivision at about the 1,300-foot level, but the terminus of the flow has been stagnant since the 18th. On the 22nd, no new breakouts were seen above Royal Gardens and the lava was quietly ponding near the vent. 

The level of lava in the tube feeding lava downslope from Kupaianaha has decreased since episode 49 began on the 8th. Over the weekend of the 15th the level of lava in the tube dropped several meters. However, when viewed on the 18th, a stream of lava was still visible within the tube. On the 18th, active pahoehoe flows were located along the eastern margin of Royal Gardens at roughly the 1,200-foot level, and by the 22nd only a few small pasty pahoehoe flows were seen in the same area. On the 21st, the opening or skylight in the lava tube at 2,150-foot elevation had crusted over, making it more difficult to evaluate lava volumes flowing through the tube.

The lava pond that existed for several months inside the Pu`u `O`o vent drained early in the new eruption and no lava is visible there now. Numerous rock falls continue to occur in Pu`u `O`o from the unstable walls of the crater. 

We suspect that either the Kupaianaha vent or the new episode 49 vent, and possibly both, will stop erupting soon. This prediction is based on the low level of tremor at the summit and near the eruption sites and that the summit is again inflating with magma. 

During a typical week, 300 to 400 located earthquakes occur beneath the Island of Hawai`i, as recorded on the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory seismic network. However, only a few have magnitudes greater than 3.0, roughly the threshold for felt earthquakes. This past week only one such earthquake occurred; it was located about six miles deep in the Ka`oiki fault zone halfway between the summits of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa Volcanoes (see map inset).