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Fissure on Kilauea continues to erupt with lava spatter up to 80 feet high

The fissure between Pu‘u ‘O‘o and Napau Crater on Kilauea’s east rift zone erupts lava spatter up to 25 m (80 ft) high. Photo courtesy of HVO

The fissure between Pu‘u ‘O‘o and Napau Crater on Kilauea’s east rift zone erupts lava spatter up to 25 m (80 ft) high. Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

MEDIA RELEASE FROM HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY

HAWAI‘I ISLAND, Hawaii — A fissure that opened on Kilauea’s east rift zone after yesterday’s collapse of the Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater floor continues to erupt lava. Activity along the fissure was sporadic overnight and throughout today, with periods of quiet punctuated by episodes of lava spattering up to 25 m (80 ft) high.

The fissure is located west-southwest of Pu‘u ‘O‘o in a remote area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Due to the ongoing volcanic activity, Park closures remain in effect in this area.

Live views of Kilauea’s fissure eruption are now possible via a Webcam installed by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) this afternoon. The Webcam images, which are updated every five minutes, can be accessed at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/cams/NCcam/

Measurements made by HVO scientists today show that the Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater floor dropped at least 115 m (377 ft) during Saturday’s collapse. The only signs of activity within the crater today were infrequent cascades of rock fragments falling from collapse blocks. This activity is visible when Pu‘u ‘O‘o Webcam views, accessible at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/cams/POcam/, are not obscured by volcanic fume.

Lava flows on the pali and coastal plain are still active, but sluggish. Whether these flows are residual lava draining through the tube system or outbreaks that continue to be fed by lava from the east rift zone vent is not yet known. Based on similar events in past years, it will take a day or two to see if the lava supply has been cut off by the uprift fissure eruption.

At Kilauea’s summit, the lava lake has receded deep within the vent in Halema‘uma‘u Crater and is now barely visible in HVO’s Webcam images. Small collapses of the vent walls occasionally produce dusty-brown plumes that can be seen from Park visitor overlooks.

Earthquakes are occurring at lower rates in the Napau Crater area adjacent to the new fissure eruption and beneath the summit caldera, but seismic tremor is significantly elevated in both areas. Summit deflation continues, but began to slow this afternoon. Deflation of the Pu‘u ‘O‘o area has slowed throughout the day.

Daily updates about Kilauea’s ongoing eruptions, recent images and videos of summit and east rift zone volcanic activity, and data about recent earthquakes are posted on the HVO Web site at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov

Continuously updated image above from a new webcam at at Pu‘u O‘o Crater pointed west to Napau Crater. The view may be obscured at times due to rain, clouds and darkness.

Continuously updated image above from a new webcam at at Pu‘u O‘o Crater pointed west to Napau Crater. The view may be obscured at times due to rain, clouds and darkness.

MEDIA RELEASE FROM HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Lava spatters from a new fissure that broke open in a field of tephra sparsely vegetated with €˜ohi€˜a, €˜ohelo, and ama€˜u. Photo by Jay Robinson

Lava spatters from a new fissure that broke open in a field of tephra sparsely vegetated with €˜ohi€˜a, €˜ohelo, and ama€˜u. Photo by Jay Robinson

The eruption that began March 5, 2011, continues on the east rift of Kilauea Volcano.

Lava spatters sporadically to average heights of 65 feet from a series of fissures that extend more than a mile between Napau Crater and Pu‘u ‘O‘o. Around the vents, molten rock puddles and hardens.

In response to the change in volcanic conditions, nearly thirty park personnel have rallied to support this major incident, meeting and planning for the first time in the park’s new Visitor Emergency Operations Center.

Rangers remain vigilant. Seismicity is ongoing, the volcano’s summit continues to deflate, and magma migrates underground beneath roads, trails, and a campsite on the volcano‟s east rift.

Hawaii Volcanoes closed Chain of Craters Road and all east rift and coastal trails, along with Kulanaokuaiki Campground, until further notice. The closure helps ensure that hikers and cars don‟t get trapped on the “wrong side‟ of an outbreak.

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists seize this opportunity to measure gas emissions and surface deformation, collect lava and fallout, and map the ever-changing landscape.

Park firefighters gauge the threat of lava-ignited wildfires. Fortunately for now, drenching rains offer a reprieve from potential flare-ups in the surrounding native ‘ohi‘a-hapu‘u rain forest.

Public and media interest is keen and visitation is up. The park and its most popular overlooks and summit trails remain open. However, because the new eruption is remote and inaccessible, rangers share the latest information, photos, and videos at Kilauea Visitor Center and Jaggar Museum. A webcam view is available on-line at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/cams/NCcam/

It’s a phenomenal time, and for some, déjà vu. The volcanic event is located where it all began twenty-eight years ago. On January 3, 1983, Kilauea’s ongoing east rift eruption opened in this very spot. Newcomers can‟t help but wonder “What happens next?” Old-timers take time to pause and ponder, and offer an occasional “I remember when…”

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