Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hawaii Volcano Up-Date: New Lava flowing from Pu'u 'O'o as of Today

Hawaii Kilauea Volcano Lava Up-Date

30 minutes from Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast:  

Dramatic activity is happening at Kilauea, as a massive lava pond has overflowed its banks. On Wednesday, just minutes after the Pu'u 'O'o Crater floor started deflating, lava broke out, at the base of the west flank of the cone.

It happened about 2:20 p.m., today, and within an hour, the crater floor and lava lake collapsed. Now there are two new flows, advancing down slope quickly. The events weren't entirely unexpected, however, since scientists have been keeping an eye on the crater for quite some time. Janet Babb, a scientist at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park says that over the past month, the crater floor has risen quickly. "We felt that that was leading to some kind of change. As the crater floor collapsed, so did the lava lake that was within Puu Oo crater. The lava lake that was within the PuuOo crater is no longer there."

A photo of Pu'u 'O'o taken on July 21 (pictured, right) compared with another snapped on June 23 (pictured, below) illustrates the recent filling the Puka Nui and MLK pit floors on the west end of Pu'u 'O'o. The shoe-print-shaped object surrounded by lava is the perched lake.

Lava drained from Pu'u 'O'o on March 5, when the crater’s floor deflated and collapsed during the Kamoamoa fissure eruption. On March 26, shortly after the eruption paused, lava abruptly returned to the crater’s floor. As scientists tracked the refilling, they noted the development of the perched lava lake, which has resembled an above-ground swimming pool. In early June, the perched lake’s levee climbed to a height of about 33 feet above the crater floor. At that time, the floor was about 170 feet below the crater rim. Subsequent lava lake overflows have pushed the full crater floor closer to the rim.

 Last week, the observatory released a time-lapse video illustrating the uplift of the lava lake and crater floor in Puu Oo, spanning July 9 to July 18. During the filming, frequent small spattering of lava flowed over the rim. Also, a small collapse of the steep levee wall resulted in a short-lived breach of lava out of the lake on July 15, according to an observatory report. Scientists maintain that the uplift of the perched lava lake is is probably due to a shallow injection of magma beneath the crater floor.

Daily updates on Kilauea volcano activity are available at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has closed the Chain of Craters Road until further notice, but sections of Crater Rim Drive remain open. For more information about access and road closures, Park visitors should call 808-985-6011 or email havo_interpretation@nps.gov.

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