USGS Status Update of Kīlauea Volcano - May 16, 2018

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USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory status of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii on May 15, 2018.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:02:37

Location Taken: Kīlauea Volcano, HI, US


So, over the past 24 hours activity on the lower east rift zone has continued. 

There’s been active fountaining in some of the fissures although it’s kind of decreased in activity over the last 24 hours a little bit. So fissure 17 had been pretty active, with an active lava flow heading over a mile to the east, that’s still growing but at a really slow rate. Some other fissures were active overnight, according to field crews. That includes reactivation of fissure 13. Lots of gas emissions, lots of S02 coming out of all the fissures. So, activity continues on the east lower rift zone.

The big action over the last day or so, has been up at Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.   Yesterday morning we started to see some pretty intense ash emissions from the crater. The highest that the cloud of the ash reached was about 12,000 feet above sea level and winds were pushing that ash down to the southwest over the Kau dessert area. 

We had some reports of ash fall, trace amounts of ash fall in the downwind direction. Because of that activity at the crater, that went on for a few hours, HVO raised the aviation color code from orange to red. 

That aviation color code to red is just an indication to the aviation community that there’s significant  amounts of ash from the eruptive activity. So we’ve had some questions from folks about what code red means. It sounds a little bit alarming, it’s really just to say that we see significant  amounts of ash from this ongoing activity and to warn aviators about that ash.  It doesn’t mean that a really big eruption is eminent, it’s really just characterizing  that aviation situation.  So that’s what is going on up at Halemaʻumaʻu.

Overnight things quieted a little but we expect this kind of ash emission to wax and wane, get more or less intense given our dynamic situation.  The winds are a little different today, the trade winds have slacked off.  So there are some concerns that up in Volcano Village and in the park area we might get increased ash fall and of course SO2 over that next day or so, so that’ll be a concern of folks in that area.