Lava Flow Continues to Creep – New Breakout on Northeast Flank

New breakout on the northeast flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō

Elevated pressure within Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone reached a breaking point this morning with magma intruding through the cone and erupting from fissures on the northeast flank of the cone. These new vents fed a vigorous, but still relatively short, channelized flow that had reached about 1.5 km (0.9 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō by 11 am. This new activity was accompanied by minor sagging of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater floor, due to withdrawal of magma within the cone.

View of the sinuous channelized flow that is moving to the northeast. The flow front this morning was about 1.5 km (0.9 miles) from Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

Left: The advancing front of the channelized flow northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. The front this morning was 1.5 km (0.9 miles) from Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Right: Thermal image of the channelized lava flow. Puʻu ʻŌʻō is at the top of the image. The line of slightly lower temperatures down the center of the channel represents more intact (and cooler) crust, which is less disrupted than the lava near the channel margins.

This Quicktime movie shows the swiftly moving lava in the channelized flow.

This Quicktime movie shows a large chunk of lava being pushed by the current in the channel.

This comparison of a normal photograph with a thermal image shows the distribution of activity northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Today’s breakouts originated from several fissures on the upper northeast flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone, sending out flows to the northeast. These partially overlap with the existing Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, which had scattered surface flows this morning.

A closer look at the breakout points of today’s new activity. The lava erupted from several fissures which broke through, and slightly uplifted, older lava on the cone.

Left: A very close view of one of the breakout points, with fresh spatter coating the older lava. Right: Another view of the spatter coating the area around the breakout point.

The withdrawal of magma from within Puʻu ʻŌʻō, to feed the new flows, has caused minor subsidence of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater floor since this morning. This was associated with small collapses at the spatter cones on the crater floor. A partial collapse of this cone revealed a small pond of lava just below the surface.

As noted above, the new flows have caused withdrawal of magma within Puʻu ʻŌʻō and small collapses of the several cones on the crater floor. Dropping lava levels in the northeast lava pond in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater caused collapses and enlargement of the pond, which has nearly claimed the time-lapse camera (left side of images) observing the lava pond.

Kahaualeʻa 2 flow remained active this morning

Surface flows remained active this morning on the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, but today’s observations suggest that the new breakouts at Puʻu ʻŌʻō may have interrupted the lava supply to the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow field. Observations over the next few days will be able to determine if the lava supply to the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow has ceased.

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