Kilauea eruption enters second week

  • This image shows the ongoing eruption within Halemaʻumaʻu crater at the summit of Kilauea volcano just after 6 a.m. Thursday. (USGS webcam image/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Kilauea volcano’s summit lava lake rose another 3 feet between Wednesday and Thursday, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports.

Lava continued to erupt from two main vents within Halema‘uma‘u crater Thursday, the observatory said in its daily update. During the preceding 24 hours, the lava lake level rose approximately 3 feet with a total rise of about 105 feet since the eruption commenced on Sept. 29.

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The west vent continues to have the most vigorous fountain with sustained lava fountain heights of about 39 feet with the lava lake surrounding a spatter rampart that’s formed around the vent. Another vent also remained active in the southern part of the lake with lava fountain heights averaging 3 feet above the lake surface.

Due to the location of vents, the lava lake is not level across its surface. Areas closer to the vent in the western part are about 7 feet higher in elevation compared other areas. The active lava lake surface is perched 3 feet to 7 feet above a 66-foot wide ledge that extends outward to the Halema‘uma‘u crater wall.

As of Thursday, the central island and several of the smaller eastern islets from the 2020 lava lake were visible on the lake surface. Smaller islets that became submerged at the beginning of the eruption, have also gradually emerged since.

Meanwhile, seismicity and volcanic gas emission rates remain elevated.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates were measured at 7,000 tons per day on Wednesday, up slightly from Tuesday, but similar to the 7,000 tons to 9,000 tons per day as of Monday. The rate reached 85,000 tons per day at the start of the eruption.

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Also, no unusual activity has been noted in the Kilauea East Rift Zone, the observatory said. However, ground deformation motion suggests that the upper East Rift Zone — between the summit and Pu‘u ‘O‘o — has been steadily refilling with magma over the past year.

Prior the current eruption that commenced Sept. 29, Kilauea’s most recent eruption occurred between December 2020 and May. The last major eruption occurred in 2018, destroying hundreds of homes and displacing thousands of residents. Since 1952, Kilauea has now erupted 35 times.