VIDEO – Early Morning Explosive Event at Kilauea Summit Lava Lake

A rockfall on the east rim of the summit vent within Kīlauea Volcano’s Halemaʻumaʻu Crater triggered a small explosive event at 3:51 a.m., HST, on January 8, 2016. Explosive events like this occur more frequently when the lava lake level is relatively high, as it has been this past week—around 30-35 m (100-115 ft) below the vent rim.

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Rocks in the vent wall expand as they are heated by the high temperature of the lava lake and become unstable. Sections of these unstable rocks can then collapse into the lava lake.

This Quicktime movie shows today’s rockfall as seen from HVO and Jaggar Museum.

http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/multimedia/uploads/multimediaFile-1280.mov

When large rockfalls impact the lava lake, they trigger explosive events that propel volcanic rock fragments (tephra) upward. This morning’s event was vigorous enough to hurl incandescent fragments onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, about 110 m (360 ft) above the lava lake surface.

explosion 1816a

This Quicktime movie shows some of these fragments flying toward the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webcam that is perched on the rim of the crater. Rockfalls and subsequent explosive events occur with no warning, and the resulting fragments of hot lava and rocky debris thrown onto the crater rim pose a significant hazard in this area.

http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/multimedia/uploads/multimediaFile-1281.mov

 

The January 8, 2016, rockfall and subsequent explosive event littered the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater with fragments of molten lava. In this image, you can see what remains of the Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook wooden fence, which has been repeatedly been bombarded by spatter and rock fragments since 2008. The blue bucket attached to the fence is one of HVO's tephra collectors so that lava fragments and rocky debris ejected from the summit vent can be quantified and analyzed.  (Click to enlarge)

The January 8, 2016, rockfall and subsequent explosive event littered the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater with fragments of molten lava. In this image, you can see what remains of the Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook wooden fence, which has been repeatedly been bombarded by spatter and rock fragments since 2008. The blue bucket attached to the fence is one of HVO’s tephra collectors so that lava fragments and rocky debris ejected from the summit vent can be quantified and analyzed. (Click to enlarge)

The 10 cm (4-inch) pocket knife in this image provides scale for one of the larger fragments of molten lava that was thrown onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at 3:51 a.m., HST, on January 8, 2016.

pocketknife

So much spatter was ejected to the crater rim this morning that it is hard to discern one lava fragment from another.

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