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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Tephra is any type and size of rock fragment that is forcibly ejected from a volcano and travels an airborne path during an eruption. Examples include ash, bombs, scoria, and shards of volcanic glass such as Pele’s hair and Pele’s tears).
Lava activity remains confined to Halema‘uma‘u crater, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported Tuesday morning.
Voggy conditions are forecast for West Hawaii through at least midweek as Kilauea’s most recent eruption continues, forecasters said.
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.