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New eruption spews 2.5 million cubic meters of lava per day

By Star-Advertiser Staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 12:38 p.m. HST, Mar 08, 2011


Geologists estimate that more than 2.5 million cubic meters of lava a day is pouring out of a new fissure near the Big Island's Pu'u 'O'o Crater since the latest phase in the Kilauea eruption began on Saturday.

The volume of lava is five times greater than the average daily flow coming from the east rift zone, which includes the "Thanksgiving eve" breakout that had been feeding lava into the Kalapana area and occasionally into the ocean since 2007.

The Thanksgiving eve flow stopped yesterday, and its not clear when or if it will resume, said Hawaiian Volcano Observatory spokeswoman Janet Babb.

Satellite measurements indicate the volume of lava feeding what's now called the Kamoamoa fissure eruption is larger than in 1997, when the last fissure eruption happened. 

The new eruption continued with "vigorous spattering" in several locations along the new fissure, volcano scientists said this morning.

"It (lava) is kind of hopping and skipping along the fissure," Babb said. 

The low fountains and spattering will pop up in one or two locations along the 1.4 mile long fissure, Babb said. The activity is creating several lava flows which are advancing south, but the flows remain within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and are not threatening homes.

Mardie Lane, a spokeswoman with the Hawaii Volcanos National Park, estimates that more than 120 acres have been covered by the new lava flows.

Sulfur dioxide emission rates are now 10,000 tons a day, up from 400 tons a day before the new fissure eruption. Babb said the increased emissions reflect the increased lava activity.

Kilauea has been erupting since 1983.

Babb said the Kamoamoa fissure eruption is episode 59 of long-running Kilauea eruption.

At the summit, lava levels at Halema'uma'u Crater have dropped, and numerous small earthquakes have been recorded at the summit and the east rift zone, an indication of lava movement.

Lava at the vent in the east wall of Halema'uma'u Crater has dropped to 655 feet below the crater floor. Scientists say three rim collapses, which have enlarged the vent, produced dense, dark dust plumes yesterday.

The Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and all east rift zone and coastal trails, along with the Kulanaokuaiki campground, remain closed until further notice. But there are no aerial restrictions.

The eruption is in a remote area of the park and is not easily accessed by ground. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has set up a live webcam for the public to monitor the new activity.

The January 1997 fissure eruption (episode 54) near Napau Crater lasted only 24 hours and was followed by a 24-day pause in surface lava at Kilauea, before lava began flowing from Pu'u 'O'o again (episode 55).

Scientists are going out to the eruption during the day and monitoring instruments at night 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, gathering information and looking for clues on the volcano's behavior, Babb said.

"Each day reveals more of the story," she said.

———

>> Eruption webcam:

http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/cams/NCcam/

>> Halema'uma'u Crater

http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/cams/HMcam/

>> Kilauea updates:

http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/activity/kilaueastatus.php

 






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