Activity at Kilauea Volcano’s summit and lower East Rift Zone has slowed down recently, and scientists are working to determine the significance of the diminished activity, the U.S. Geological Survey said today.
“It is common for eruptions to wax and wane or pause completely,” the USGS said in its afternoon update. “A return to high levels of lava discharge or new outbreaks in the area of active fissures could occur at any time.”
The USGS said the significance of the change in activity is not yet clear and warned that hazardous conditions remain in the area.
An overflight crew this morning noted a “weak to moderately active bubbling lava lake” in fissure 8’s cone, along with a weak gas plume and a crusted-over lava channel, the USGS said.
Also this morning, ground crews confirmed the channel from fissure 8 was empty up to the vicinity of Kapoho Crater, where a short section of active lava was present in a channel. USGS geologists said the glowing lava in the channel near Kapoho appeared to be the result of draining from upslope, rather than new lava entering the channel.
No discernible movement was seen, the USGS said.
Lava was still oozing out in small amounts near the coast at Kapoho Bay and the Ahalanui lobes, but the laze plume was “greatly diminished,” the USGS said.
Near Pohoiki Bay boat ramp, lava was still active, but hadn’t made any significant movement toward it.
In addition, Kilauea’s summit remained quiet since a collapse event about noon Saturday.
The USGS called it a “significant departure” from earthquake and deformation patterns of the past several months.
Deformation, as far as scientists can measure, has virtually stopped.
The changes at the summit and lower East Rift Zone together suggest the rate of magma leaving the summit to feed the lower East Rift Zone has slowed, the USGS said.
“How long this condition will persist is unknown,” the USGS said. “It is possible that outflow will pick up again, resulting in renewed summit area deflation leading to another collapse event and renewed eruption vigor on the LERZ.”