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Raised lava lake rising in Pu'u 'O'o crater

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 01:32 a.m. HST, May 30, 2011


A new vent has opened in Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater in Kilauea’s east rift zone and is filling the area around a raised lava lake in the middle of the crater floor.

The lava lake, described by volcano scientists as looking “somewhat like an above-ground swimming pool,” has been building since lava returned to Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater in March.

The lava lake is being fed by a vent near the western edge of the lake. The rim of the perched pond was about 30 ft higher than the surrounding crater floor, which was 170 feet below the eastern crater rim as of Wednesday. Lava occasionally overflows the rim and the new vent is also filling the area around the raised lake.

The rim has been progressively built up by overflows of lava that have cooled and solidified. A few breaches of the fragile upper rim have allowed lava to pour into the surrounding low areas between the crater walls and the perched lake before resealing itself

On Friday, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory released a time-lapse thermal image of the lava in Pu‘u ‘O‘o, which shows the lava lake forming over the last two months.

Lava drained from Pu‘u ‘O‘o on March 5 during the Kamoamoa fissure eruption, and remained absent for several weeks. The thermal camera images show the abrupt return of lava to the crater floor on March 26 and the lava returning in fits and starts that culminated in the development of the  lava lake.

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