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Volcano Watch: Kilauea activity update for October 18, 2012

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

A lava lake within the Halema`uma`u Overlook vent produced night-time glow that was visible from the Jaggar Museum overlook and by HVO’s Webcam during the past week. The lava lake reached a new high level last weekend, about 45 m (150 ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater, and has fluctuated between ~45-50 (150-165 ft) since (as of October 18). Cracking and booming noises, caused by thermal fracturing of the vent wall, continued to emanate sporadically from the vent.

On Kilauea’s east rift zone, surface lava flows are still accumulating at the base of the Pulama pali within the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision. The flows reached within 1.7 km (about 1 mile) from the shoreline on October 10 and have advanced a few hundred meters (yards) since. Within the Pu`u `O`o crater, the northeastern pit still holds a circulating lava lake. Occasional flows were erupted from a pit on the southern side of the crater floor.

No earthquakes were reported felt across the Island of Hawai`i during the past week.

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

The first sequence shows spattering at the west edge of the lava lake in the ‘overlook’ vent in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. The crackling and popping noises are from fracturing of the rocks composing the walls of the vent caused by thermal expansion. The second video sequence is zoomed in on the spattering at the west edge of the lava lake in the ‘overlook’ vent in Halemaʻumaʻu. In the third video sequence heat from the high lava lake level in the ‘overlook’ vent in Halemaʻumaʻu is causing the walls of the vent above the lava surface to expand and fracture. This is the source of the cracking and booming noises emanating from the vent in recent days. This video, zoomed in on the back (NW) wall of the vent, shows small fragments of rock exploding from the wall and scattering onto the lake surface. Watch closely…the rocks are originating from an alcove that overhangs the lake and can be difficult to see. Video courtesy of USGS/HVO.

First video sequence shows lava flowing through the active lava tube on the pali. Second video taken during Wednesday (Oct 17) helicopter overflight of Halemaʻumaʻu, showing the active lava lake at a very high level. Vigorous spattering on the lake margin emits a thick plume of gas. Third video sequence is taken from the east rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater, showing the small lava lake that is active in the northeast portion of the crater floor. Unsteady gas escape along the lake margins drives low-level spattering and undulations of the lake surface. Video courtesy of USGS/HVO

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