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Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Update – Brief Interruption to Lava Flow Advance

Brief interruption to Kahaualeʻa 2 flow advance; spattering lava pond in Puʻu ʻŌʻō

The Kahaualeʻa 2 flow has been advancing through forest northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō for the past several months, but last week deflation at the summit of Kīlauea led to a reduction in lava supply and a shutdown to the flow front as active breakouts diminished. Over the past week summit inflation has returned, and new breakouts have appeared on the flow, but well behind the former flow front. Because the active breakouts at the flow margin have shut down, there was little smoke from forest fires today. If the new breakouts continue to advance they will expand the Kahaualeʻa 2 into the forest once again and fires will resume.

This thermal image shows the front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. Summit deflation a week ago caused a reduction in lava supply to the flow and the flow front stalled, and is now inactive. Over the past few days, resumed summit inflation has driven new breakouts (shown by white and yellow colors) on the flow that are behind the stalled flow front. The vent for the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow is on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, marked in the upper left. Compare this thermal image to the visual image above.

Top: This Quicktime movie shows a lava pond, about 15 m (50 ft) in diameter, on the east rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Several small spatter sources are active on the pond margin, and release gas from within the pond. Lava pond activity like this is common in Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Bottom: This Quicktime movie shows weak gas pistoning in the lava pond on the east rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Gas pistoning is the cyclic buildup and release of gas within the pond, and is common in Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

This Quicktime movie shows some of the spattering associated with the gas pistoning, in which the spattering acts as an outlet for gas accumulating in the pond. Note how the crust in the center of the pond is fluctuating. Lava pond activity and gas pistoning are common in Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

This thermal image shows the lava pond on the east rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō from above. The temperature scale is in degrees Celsius. The pond is nearly circular, and has surface crust temperatures between 300 and 400 C (570-750 Fahrenheit – orange colors). The two spatter sources on the pond margin expose fresh, incandescent lava which has temperatures around 1100 C (2000 F) – well above the limit of the camera at this setting (which is 550 C, or 1020 F).

Top: View of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater, looking northeast. In the upper left, a line of fume sources marks the path of the lava tube feeding the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow.  Bottom: Closer view of the northeast spatter cone on the east rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Deflation last week resulted in the top of this small cone to collapse, and with resumed inflation a lava pond has filled the new pit. The northeast spatter cone is also the vent area for the Kahaualeʻa 2 lava flow, and the path of the lava tube is marked by the two incandescent skylights.

The lava pond at the northeast cone had several spatter sources active on the pond margin, throwing spatter to a height of a few meters (yards).

Top: A clear view of the lava pond at the northeast cone, on the east rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. View is towards the northeast. Several small spatter sources are active on the pond margin. Bottom: Several other spatter cones were active in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater today, producing loud jetting and hissing sounds as gas is forced through narrow incandescent openings.

Typical fluctuations in Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake level

The summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater dropped slightly last week in response to summit deflation, but has returned to higher levels with resumed inflation. Fluctuations like this have been common during the summit eruption. The lake is currently at a level that has been typical for the past year.

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