Kilauea eruption persists: Lava lake continues to grow; emissions still elevated

  • A telephoto image of the south-central lava fountain in the Halema‘uma‘u lava lake at the summit of Kilauea, taken Saturday night from the western rim of the crater. It wasz the most vigorous fountaining source within the south and central lava lake region and the fissure was 115 feet long with sustained fountain heights of 16 feet to 33 feet. (UGSG photo taken by L. DeSmither/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • The eruption in Halema‘uma‘u, at Kilauea's summit continued as of Sunday night. From the south rim of Halema‘uma‘u, this image taken Saturday shows at least three fountaining sources in the crater. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists monitoring the eruption Sunday noted that spatter from the fountain near the southeast edge of the island in the center of the lava lake (that formed during the December 2020-May 2021 eruption) is constructing a small cone on the island. (USGS photo by L. DeSmither/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Kilauea volcano’s summit eruption persisted for a fifth day Sunday with lava continuing to erupt from multiple vents within Halema‘uma‘u crater.

Scientists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported Sunday morning that the summit lava lake had rose over 3.3 feet between Saturday and Sunday. Since the eruption started at 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, the lava lake surface has risen approximately 89 feet.

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The west vent continues to be the most vigorous source, with sustained lava fountain heights of 33 feet to 49 feet, and a cone forming. Other vents include a 115-foot fissure in the central and southern parts of the lake with lava fountain heights up to 33 feet.

The observatory noted the lava lake was not level across its surface due to the location of the various vents. On Sunday morning, scientists estimated the west end of the lake was between 3 feet and 6 feet higher than the east end, and the south end 3 feet higher than the north end.

Meanwhile, sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates remained high, estimated at 14,750 tons per day as of the most recent reading on Saturday. The amount of S02, one of the main components of vog, or volcanic smog, was up from Friday’s 12,900 tons per day, but down from 85,000 tons at the start of the eruption Wednesday afternoon.

Fanned by southerly winds, the vog typically moves southwest across the Ka‘u District, hitting first areas like Pahala, Naalehu and Ocean View, before getting caught up in sea breezes that bring the haze toward West Hawaii and onshore.

In addition to visual impacts, vog also creates the potential for airborne health hazards to residents and visitors, damages agricultural crops and other plants, and affects livestock, according to the state Department of Health. Air quality and other information can be monitored via the Hawaii Interagency Vog Information Dashboard at vog.ivhhn.org.

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Seisemicity also remained elevated Sunday, but stable. Summit tiltmeters continued to record deflation.

No unusual activity has been noted in the Kilauea East Rift Zone, the observatory said Sunday morning.