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Scientists watching new lava flow headed toward Royal Gardens

  • COURTESY: HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    The level of the lava lake on the east side of Puu Oo crater is even with the crater’s northeast rim on Sept. 14. A scientist, rescuing equipment, is visible on the crater rim in the background.
  • COURTESY: HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    This thermal image, looking east, shows the two perched lava ponds within Pu`u `? `? crater on Sept. 9.
  • COURTESY: HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    Lava filled and flowed over the northwest rim of a pit on the west side of the crater on Sept. 14.

  • A deflation–inflation (DI) event, which began Thursday afternoon, led to a marked decrease in eruptive activity at Puu Oo on Friday.
  • COURTESY: HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    This photo shows lava overflowing the east rim of the crater on Sept. 14.
  • COURTESY: HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    This Sept. 15 photo shows perched lava ponds forming outside of the crater as lava flows over the crater rim on the west side of Puu Oo.
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A new lava flow is advancing down the east slope of Puu Oo crater and may pose a threat to the Royal Gardens subdivision if it continues, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

Lava began overflowing the west rim of Puu Oo crater early Tuesday feeding a new lava flow moving downslope on the crater’s west side.

Two lava lakes are active in Puu Oo, one on the west and the other on the east side of the crater.

Activity on Tuesday was on the west side of the crater from about 2 a.m. Tuesday until 2:25 a.m. today when lava broke through the east rim.

The new fissure fed a lava flow that advanced rapidly downslope to the east.

If the flow continues to advance, it will likely head southeast toward Royal Gardens and could reach the what’s left of the subdivision in the next few days, scientists said.  

Royal Gardens has been overrun by lava several times and has no paved road access. A handful of people still live there, although much of the area is abandoned.

Lava flowed over the crater rim last week, but the flows stopped over the weekend.

The Puu Oo crater floor collapsed in early August dropping the floor level by about 245 feet. Lava broke out from the west side of the crater and advanced for several days before stopping. Lava reappeared in the crater on Aug. 21 and formed two new lava lakes that have been filling the crater ever since.

Lava also drained from Puu Oo on March 5 during the Kamoamoa fissure eruption.

Kilauea volcano has been erupting since January 3, 1983.

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