Scientists track a new lava eruption from Kilauea Volcano in Halemaumau Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The island of Hawaii erupted at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday in the crater at the top of the volcano, according to the US Geological Survey. Officials reported that multiple cracks were opening in Halemaumau’s walls.
USGS said the lava was “completely contained” in the approximately 1,640-meter-deep crater and thus posed no immediate danger to the public.
The lava poured into the water lake from the top, boiled off the water and formed a new lava lake at the base of the crater, officials said early this morning. The northern fissure produced the highest lava fountain at about 50 meters, they said.
Just after 6 a.m. today, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said the situation at Halemaumau Crater “has stabilized. The crater lake has evaporated and is slowly being replaced by a lava lake. The threat of ash loss is very low, but is possible in Kau and South Kona districts.
USGS officials tweeted at approximately 4:20 am that “the fountain on the N (orth) wall of Halemaumau crater is dominant, with weaker fountain formation on display at W (est) gorges. The lava lake is slowly rising. An undulating plume of gas continues to drift to the southwest. “
Video of W rim of the caldera just before midnight. As of December 21 at 1:30 am HST, the growing lava lake has almost reached the level of the lowest falling block formed during the 2018 collapse. In the past 2 hours, the lake has risen ~ 10 m. pic.twitter.com/Qbx1d6hbq4
– USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes) December 21, 2020
An earthquake swarm began Sunday evening accompanied by ground deformation, according to the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Scientists discovered an orange glow in the crater at the top shortly after 9:30 PM
According to preliminary data, there was an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.4 on the Richter scale about 9 miles south of Fern Forest, near the Holei Pali area of the park at a depth of 4 miles at approximately 10:36 PM . The earthquake was not strong enough to cause a tsunami.
County Civil Defense officials said ash outages were likely in the Kau district of Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu and Ocean View. They initially advised the public to stay indoors to avoid exposure and be aware of possible shocks.
The volcano alert level was raised to a “warning” level and its aviation alert to “red” from a green “normal” level on Sunday evening after the eruption. The red alarm means that an eruption is imminent or that an eruption is underway or suspected with significant release of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.
But today at 12:20 PM, the National Weather Service released a statement saying that “the eruption at Kilauea volcano appears to be diminishing.”
“All available data indicates that the eruption that occurred late Sunday evening in Halemaumau is on the wane, with only a slight cloud of steam,” said weather officials. “Big Island Civil Defense reports that no ash fall has been observed near and downwind of the crater, including on Highway 11, and that the eruption may have been mostly steam.”
Scientists assess the hazards and communicate with the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency and the national park.
In a statement, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s acting scientist-in-charge David Phillips said, “HVO continues to monitor Kilauea as the situation evolves rapidly with tonight’s eruption on Kilauea’s summit. We will be sending further reports about Kilauea and other Hawaiian volcanoes as we observe changes. “
Sunday’s developments mark a resumption of Kilauea lava activity since the summer of 2018, when the volcanoes’ 35-year eruption ended.
In recent weeks, the observatory said scientists have recorded ground deformations and earthquakes on the summit and the Upper East Rift Zone that have exceeded levels seen since the end of the 2018 eruption at Leilani Estates, which destroyed more than 700 homes.
Scientists noted that rates have been rising steadily in recent months and are currently higher than since the end of the 2018 eruption.
Ikaika Marzo, who posted a video on social media of the lava as it entered Leilani Estates during the 2018 eruption and launched a community shelter called Pu’uhonua O Puna, noticed an increase in earthquakes during the day on Sunday.
“We have seen many earthquakes in the past two hours,” Marzo said late during a telephone interview. Sunday night.
The USGS “Can you feel it?” the service received more than 500 reports within the first hours of the earthquake.