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Kilauea still restless despite no lava at surface

Close view of lava spatter clinging to tree fern.
Close view of lava spatter clinging to tree fern.

Following last week's "Father's Day" intrusion of magma into the east rift zone of Kilauea, the volcano stopped erupting lava at Pu`u `O`o, at least temporarily. Scientists have not seen lava in the crater or the lava-tube system since early last week, and the new eruption at Kane Nui o Hamo lasted no more than a few hours on June 18-19.

By week's end, the crater floor and west flank of Pu`u `O`o had collapsed, forming an irregular pit more than 100 m deep. Earthquakes and seismic tremor along the east rift zone have decreased markedly compared to pre-June 17 levels, and the summit of the volcano is slowly inflating as magma accumulates beneath the caldera, replacing magma that flowed into the East Rift Zone during June 17-19.

Aerial view of the burned rainforest surrounding the small fissure eruption on the northeast flank of Kane Nui o Hamo. Note small lava flows (black) in low center and top right. The two flows are about 40 m apart.
Aerial view of the burned rainforest surrounding the small fissure eruption on the northeast flank of Kane Nui o Hamo. Note small lava flows (black) in low center and top right. The two flows are about 40 m apart.
Over the weekend Pu`u `O`o continued its steady subsidence as indicated by a tiltmeter located on the north side of the cone. An overflight on the afternoon of June 25 revealed no further changes to Pu`u `O`o; however, the crater was obscured by thick fume.
Fume and smoke still rising from the west part of the June 18-19 fissure. Fume and smoke still rising from the west part of the June 18-19 fissure.
Scientists at the observatory continue to monitor the situation closely, but only time will tell whether lava will reappear at Pu`u `O`o, like it did a few weeks after the 1997 intrusion and eruption at Napau Crater, and again following the 1999 intrusion in the Upper East Rift Zone.

Kilauea has erupted at different locations during long-lived eruptions before, including the Pu`u `O`o eruption. A brief eruption in Napau Crater in 1997 followed the withdrawl of magma from beneath Pu`u `O`o, and eruptions occurred in the upper east rift zone and summit caldera during the extended eruption of Mauna Ulu.

Area covered by spatter along the east end of the June 18-19 fissure.
Area covered by spatter along the east end of the June 18-19 fissure.
More changes will undoubtedly unfold in the coming days and weeks as Kilauea adjusts to the changes brought on by the Father's Day intrusion. Stay tuned for more information on this new phase of Kilauea's activity.

Learn more about Kilauea's east rift zone:

           
Archive of previous feature stories

  A beautiful sunrise
Photograph by M. Sako
March 29, 2006

Breath-taking Sunrises

Top: A beautiful sunrise of the mountainside from Hualalai volcano.

Bottom: Spectacular sunrise overlooking Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. Photo taken from the top of Hualalai volcano.

Archive of Featured Photographs

  Spectacular sunrise overlooking Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes.  Photo taken from the top of Hualalai volcano.
Photograph by M. Sako
March 29, 2006

 

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