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Volcano Watch: Kilauea activity update for week of Feb. 17

(Activity updates are written by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.)

A prolonged deflation started at Kilauea’s summit Feb. 16, and the lava lake within the eruptive vent in Halemaumau dropped about 50 m (164 ft) as a result. Deflation switched back to inflation on February 21, and the lava lake has since risen back to its previous level 70–80 m (230–262 ft) below the floor of Halemaumau.

A small collapse of the northwest rim of the vent during the deflation triggered a small explosive event that ejected molten spatter onto the Halemaumau crater floor. Superimposed on the general rise and fall of the lava surface during the deflation–inflation cycle were sporadic, short-lived lava high stands that changed the lava level by 10–15 m (30–50 ft). Volcanic gas emissions remain elevated, resulting in high concentrations of sulfur dioxide downwind.

At Puu Oo, the deflation–inflation cycle resulted in the cessation of lava flows on the crater floor. Flows resumed once Puu Oo began to inflate again and, by the time of this writing (Thursday, Feb. 24), much of the eastern half of the crater floor had been covered by fresh lava.

Despite the shut-down in activity at Puu Oo during the deflation–inflation cycle, modest surface flows remained active on the pali and coastal plain west of Kalapana throughout the week.

Two earthquakes beneath Hawaii Island were reported felt this past week.

A magnitude-2.4 micro-earthquake occurred at 12:22 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17 and was located 10 km (6 mi) north of Waimea at a depth of 24 km (15 mi).

A magnitude-3.2 earthquake occurred at 5 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23 and was located 6 km (4 mi) south of Volcano at a depth of 3 km (2 mi).

Visit the HVO Web site ( for detailed Kilauea and Mauna Loa activity updates, recent volcano photos, recent earthquakes, and more; call (808) 967-8862 for a Kilauea summary; email questions to

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