Vog remains in forecast as Kilauea eruption continues

  • A panorama of Halemaʻumaʻu from the west rim of the Kilauea caldera is seen at 9:32 a.m. Tuesday. (Webcam image via USGS HVO/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Lava activity remains confined to Halema‘uma‘u crater, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported Tuesday morning.

Vents were spattering from the top of a small cone plastered on the northwest wall of Halema‘uma‘u crater and lava was flowing down a narrow channel to the lake and feeding a small dome fountain in front of the west vents, the observatory said.

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The lake, measured at 627 feet Monday afternoon, covers 82 acres within Halema‘uma‘u crater.

“The lake is now perched about a meter (yard) above its narrow edges as measured Sunday morning (Jan. 3); overflows onto the narrow edge slowly elevated a low wall around the lake similar to the wall around an above-ground swimming pool,” the observatory wrote in its daily Kilauea Volcano update.

Within the lake, the main island of cooler, solidified lava continued settling, mostly rotating counter-clockwise in front of the west lava source filling the lake, while the 11 smaller islands moved a bit but remained in the east end of the lake. The main island covered about 7 acres in area based on a Dec. 30, 2020, thermal map.

Scientists also said Tuesday morning that no seismic or deformation data indicates additional magma is currently moving into either of Kilauea’s rift zones.

Meanwhile, sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions remain elevated with output ranging from 3,000 tons per day to 6,500 tons per day.

The levels have stayed in that range since Dec. 27 and similar to values common for emissions from the pre-2018 lava lake. At the start of the eruption on Dec. 20, an estimated 35,000 tons per day to 40,000 tons per day of SO2 was being released from Halema‘uma‘u crater.

With trade winds forecast to continue through at least Thursday, portions of Hawaii Island southwest of Kilauea’s summit, primarily the North Kona, South Kona and Ka‘u districts, may experience vog, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Vog Measurement and Prediction Project.

However, air quality is likely to remain “good or acceptable” based on current emission rates from the volcano, the project said.

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Some reprieve from the vog could come Friday and Saturday as the trade winds transition to light and variable winds. Gentle trade winds are forecast to return Sunday and remain into next week, according to the National Weather Service.

For more information on the ongoing eruption, visit https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hawaiian-volcano-observatory. For more information on vog, including ways to monitor air quality, visit https://vog.ivhhn.org.

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