Pele’s show continues

  • A wide view of the ongoing eruption at Kilauea summit, from the south rim of Halema‘uma‘u. A vent on the western crater wall (left) continues to supply lava to the active west half of the lava lake. The west side of the lake is perched above the stagnant eastern (right) lake surface, with several lava overflows advancing over the previously solidified surface crust. USGS photo taken by B. Carr.

  • A view of the fountaining at the west vent in Halema‘uma‘u crater, at the summit of Kilauea. The photo was taken from the west rim, looking down upon the vent. Low fountaining and roiling within the cone supplied lava to the lake via a narrow spillway. Lava spreading out into the lake develops a zig-zag pattern in the surface crust. USGS photo by M. Patrick taken on October 12, 2021.

  • Lava fountains from the western vent within Halema‘uma‘u continue to supply lava into the lava lake through a short spillway. Consistent fountain heights of 10–15 meters (30–50 ft) were interrupted by frequent larger busts of spatter exceeding the height of the cone (30 m or 100 ft). USGS photo taken by B. Carr on October 12, 2021.

Kilauea volcano has erupted more than 4.2 billion gallons of lava since its current summit eruption began Sept. 29.

Lava continued to erupt Wednesday from a single vent with sustains fountains between 33 and 49 feet within Halema‘uma‘u crater, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in its daily update. During the preceding 24 hours, the lava lake level rose approximately 7 feet for a total rise of about 138 feet since the eruption commenced on Sept. 29.

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The central island and several of the smaller eastern islets from the 2020 lava lake were still above the lake surface along with an island of the 2020 western vent rampart in the northwest part of the lake on Wednesday. The lava lake remained uneven across its surface due to the location of the vent in the western end. Areas closer to the vent are up to 20 feet higher.

Meanwhile, seismicity and volcanic gas emission rates remain elevated.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates were measured at 6,800 tons per day on Wednesday, up slightly from 5,300 ton per day on Friday. The rate reached 85,000 tons per day at the start of the eruption.

S02, one of the main components of vog, or volcanic smog, is typically fanned by southerly winds southwest across the Ka‘u District, hitting first areas like Pahala, Na‘alehu 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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Also, the observatory said Wednesday that no unusual activity has been noted in the Kilauea East Rift Zone. Ground deformation motion continued to suggest 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.