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    April 2019
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Puʻu ʻŌʻō Breakouts Continue – No Significant Advancement

The two breakouts that began at Puʻu ʻŌʻō yesterday (May 24) are still active.

As of 8:30 a.m., HST, today, May 25, 2016, lava continued to flow from two breakout sites on the flanks of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone, which was shrouded by rain and steam during HVO’s morning overflight.

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This morning, the active portions of both flows remained relatively short, extending no more than 1 km (0.6 miles) from their breakout points. The northern breakout, shown here, changed course slightly overnight, but is still directed towards the northwest in an impressive channel, with lava spreading out at the flow front. Click to enlarge

At the northern breakout (see maps at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/maps/), a new lobe of lava broke out of yesterday’s active channel and was advancing to the northwest. This new lobe of lava had advanced about 950 m (0.6 mi) as of this morning. Yesterday’s channel—now inactive—is visible to the right of today’s flow.


In this thermal image of the northern breakout, the active lava channel and flow front are clearly revealed as bright yellow and pink colors. The channel that was active yesterday, but now stagnate, is visible as a bluish-purple line to the right of today’s active flow.

This morning (May 25, 2016), the northern breakout on Puʻu ʻŌʻō was feeding an impressive channel of lava that extended about 950 m (0.6 mi) northwest of the cone. This channel was about 10 m (32 ft) wide as of 8:30 a.m., HST.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The second flow from the eastern breakout on Puʻu ʻŌʻō—in the area of the “Peace Day” flow that broke out in September 2011—remained active as of this morning, and its total length was about 1.2 km (0.75 mi) long.

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Click to enlarge

This lava flow was slowly spreading laterally, but the flow front had stalled.

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Click to enlarge

Despite heavy rain, which resulted in blurry spots on this photo due to water droplets on the camera lens, HVO scientists were able to do some of the work they hoped to accomplish during this morning’s overflight.

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Here, an HVO geologist maps the location of active lava from the eastern breakout on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Click to enlarge

Amidst steam created by rain falling on the hot lava, another HVO geologist uses a rock hammer to collect a sample of the active flow.

Analyses of this sample will yield data on the temperature and chemical makeup of the lava, information that is needed to help determine what's happening within the volcano.  Click to enlarge

Analyses of this sample will yield data on the temperature and chemical makeup of the lava, information that is needed to help determine what’s happening within the volcano. Click to enlarge

Pu’u O’o Experiencing Slow Slip Event

The latest USGS Kilauea update mentioned in it’s Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: that “a swarm of small earthquakes continues on Kīlauea’s south flank… These south flank earthquakes are associated with a “slow slip event”

Webcams show no significant change in eruptive activity at Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

Aerial view of Puʻu ʻŌʻō taken on 8-30-1990. USGS Photo by J.D. Griggs

Aerial view of Puʻu ʻŌʻō taken on 8-30-1990. USGS Photo by J.D. Griggs

Tilt over the past day was affected by heavy rain. The sulfur dioxide emission rate from all East Rift Zone vents was about 300 metric tons per day when measurements were last possible on October 2, 2015. A swarm of small earthquakes continues on Kīlauea’s south flank, west of Kaʻena Point, near Apua Point.

These south flank earthquakes are associated with a “slow slip event” – more information on slow slip events can be found in this Volcano Watch article from 2012: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/view.php?id=119

“A slow slip event (SSE). SSEs are episodes of fault slip occurring over the course of 1–2 days beneath Kīlauea’s south flank. If all that slip took place abruptly, it would generate the equivalent of a magnitude 6.0 earthquake. Because the slip occurs over days, however, the SSE motion is detectable only with sensitive geodetic or deformation monitoring instruments.

Over the past decade, SSEs have been observed here and in a number of other places around the world, including Japan, Mexico, and the United States Pacific Northwest. They occur on the same faults that produce large and occasionally destructive earthquakes.

In Washington State and Oregon, SSEs occur so regularly that they can be predicted. It is also thought that SSEs can possibly trigger large, destructive earthquakes; thus, they are well worth studying.”

Lava Flow Update – Steam Suggests Flow Advancing Again Towards Pahoa

Steaming extends northeast along ground crack, suggesting lava is advancing again along the crack

Steaming (center of photograph) was reported this morning east of the small pad of lava (just above center) that emerged from a ground crack this past week. This renewed progression of steaming suggests that lava is again continuing to advance beneath the surface, along these ground cracks. On our afternoon overflight, the farthest point of steaming was near an abandoned well site, which serves as a convenient landmark in this broad expanse of forest. The farthest steaming was 11.9 km (7.4 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and 2.6 km (1.6 miles) from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna forest reserve. In the top portion of the photograph, numerous plumes of smoke originate from scattered surface flows burning vegetation. Puʻu ʻŌʻō can be seen on the horizon.

This figure compares the photo above with an equivalent view from a thermal camera. The plumes of smoke mark the farthest active lava on the surface (small, scattered lobes of pāhoehoe), which are also shown as small hotspots in the thermal image. The pad of lava that emerged from the ground crack earlier this week was inactive at the surface but still quite warm (high temperature patch in center of image). East of this pad of lava, steaming (just below the center of the photograph) has appeared over the past day, suggesting that lava is continuing to advance below the surface along a ground crack. Direct views into the crack were not possible due to thick vegetation, but close views of the steaming areas with the thermal camera reveal temperatures up to 190 C (370 F). These high temperature are further evidence of lava moving through the crack.

A closer of the new steaming. The thick vegetation obscures direct views of the ground crack, and only a line of steaming and browned vegetation is evident at the surface.

Slow-moving pāhoehoe advances through thick forest northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. The pāhoehoe lobes surround, and burn through, the base of the trees. By the time the trees topple over, the lava surface temperature has cooled sufficiently that the downed trees do not completely burn through, leaving a field of tree trunks on the recent lava surface. One tree in the center of the photograph is completely surrounded by active lava, and likely on the brink of toppling over.

Another view of the lava expanding into the forest.
Closer to the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, one of several skylights provides a view of the flowing lava stream within the lava tube. This lava tube supplies lava from the vent to the active surface flows near the flow front.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge