Volcano Watch: Tiny changes at Mauna Loa’s summit hold big clues

aiAlthough Mauna Loa is Earth’s largest active volcano, it has lived in the shadow of Kilauea since it last erupted in 1984. The geologic record shows that Mauna Loa erupts every seven years on average; however, 37 years have passed since lava flows from the volcano’s Northeast Rift Zone came within 4 miles of Hilo.

Volcano Watch: The rise and fall of lava lakes

May 3 marks three years since the start of the devastating lower East Rift Zone eruption of Kilauea. In 2018, rising summit lava lake levels, caused by building magmatic pressure, culminated in a large eruption on the lower flank which then abruptly drained the summit lava lake and initiated crater collapse.

Volcano Watch: How measuring gravity on Maunakea helps us monitor Mauna Loa

It’s 5 a.m. and a somewhat sleepy scientist is getting ready to leave his home in Honomu and head to the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) office on Kamehameha Avenue in Hilo. Yawning — and not quite fully caffeinated — he says goodbye to the dog following him around the kitchen who’s wondering why they’re up so early.

Volcano Watch: Young activity in the Southwest Rift Zone

Kilauea’s East Rift Zone has been particularly newsworthy over the past 40 years with Pu‘u ‘O‘o erupting nearly continuously from 1983 to 2018 followed by the 2018 eruption that started in Leilani Estates. The summit of Kilauea also saw eruptions in April and September of 1982 and the 2008-18 lava lake which drained and was followed by impressive collapses from May to September 2018. The newly enlarged Halema‘uma‘u Crater is currently filling with lava from an eruption that began in December of 2020. The frequent summit and East Rift Zone eruptions often seem to overshadow Kilauea’s Southwest Rift Zone, which extends southwest from Halema‘uma‘u to the coast about 3 miles southeast of Pahala.

Volcano Watch: What’s that (seismic) noise?

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory uses dozens of seismometers to locate individual earthquakes and identify signals that are related to faulting and magma movement within our volcanoes.

Volcano Watch: Aerial photographs and volcanic ash — looking back to move forward

A new project at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) is once again making use of old aerial photographs and field notes that were used to make geologic and hazard maps. Buried within hundreds of old mapping photos and field notes are the locations and thicknesses of several ash deposits on the flanks of Mauna Loa that have never been fully quantified.

Volcano Watch: Failing to prepare, or preparing to fail

Mauna Loa has been in the news lately, as the volcano continues to awaken from its slumber. While an eruption of Mauna Loa is not imminent, now is the time to revisit personal eruption plans. Similar to preparing for hurricane season, having an eruption plan in advance helps during an emergency.

Volcano Watch: Seismicity preceding the 2020 eruption of Kilauea Volcano

Pele returned to the summit of Kilauea on the evening of Dec. 20, 2020. Incredible video documents the start of the new eruption in Halema’uma’u and the dynamic ongoing activity. There was no significant change that suggested lava would erupt again so rapidly, but there were subtle signs of restless behavior around Kilauea’s summit in the months prior to the eruption.

Volcano Watch: When will Mauna Loa erupt next?

“When will Mauna Loa erupt next?” This was the title of a Volcano Awareness Month video presentation released by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in January. This was also the topic of discussion among HVO scientists last week following the detection of slight changes in ground deformation and seismicity at the summit of Mauna Loa.

Volcano Watch: What’s going on at Kilauea’s summit lava lake?

Kilauea’s current lava lake formed on Dec. 20, 2020, and rose rapidly within Halema’uma’u crater during the dynamic first week of the ongoing summit eruption. Near the end of December, the eruption stabilized and the lava lake has been slowly changing since then.

Volcano Watch: Kilauea’s south flank — What’s shaking?

This story begins after Kilauea’s May 4, 2018, magnitude-6.9 earthquake and lower East Rift Zone eruption. The magnitude-6.9 earthquake resulted in seaward motion at the surface of Kilauea’s south flank of up to approximately 1.5 feet as measured by GPS monitoring stations operated by the U.S. Gelogical Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Volcano Watch: Words matter — Lava, not fire, but island or raft or basalt berg?

Words matter in volcanology just as in the rest of society. Words matter among volcanologists themselves, of course, but they particularly matter in our dealings with the public, when we attempt to both tell what is happening and educate about how volcanoes work. Accuracy of words promotes understanding and clarity of thought and is essential to both telling and educating.

Volcano Watch: A closer look at Kilauea’s newest lava

Every rock on Earth is made of up a unique combination of chemical elements, and lavas/tephra formed during Hawaiian eruptions are no exception. What is the geochemistry of Kilauea’s newest tephra — and how can it help us understand the processes driving the ongoing eruption?

Volcano Watch: Gas math — how we know how much sulfur dioxide volcanoes emit

Volcanic gases are an important part of eruptions — they help magma to rise within the earth and erupt, they can tell us how much lava is being erupted, and the volcanic air pollution (vog) they cause can be a hazard. So it is important for the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) to measure how much of what kind of gas is being emitted by our volcanoes.

Volcano Watch: Kilauea’s ongoing eruption: a rising lava lake

It has been an exciting week at Kilauea Volcano as the summit eruption that began on the evening of December 20th continues. The eruption remains confined within Halema‘uma‘u crater. Monitoring data show no signs of activity migrating from the summit into the rift zones, nor indications of summit collapse like those in 2018.