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Volcano alert level for Kilauea lowered to watch

  • U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

    Only a weak pond of lava was visible during the Aug. 15 overflight of the western portion of the fissure 8 vent.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has lowered the volcano alert level for ground-based hazards to a watch from a warning due to diminished eruption activity at the Kilauea summit and lower East Rift Zone.

Eruption activity has significantly decreased over the past week with no reports of any collapses at the summit since Aug. 2.

The alert level change indicates hazards posed by the crater collapse events at the summit and lava flows at the lower East Rift Zone have decreased.

Scientists pointed out the change does not mean the eruption activity is over as there is still a possibility it could resume.

Aside from a small crusted-over pond of lava in the fissure 8 cone and a few scattered ocean entries at Kapoho Bay, the observatory said the lava has ceased flowing in the channel at the lower East Rift Zone on Aug. 6.

Sulfur emission rates also have significantly dropped.

Despite the change in the alert level, hazardous conditions remain at the lower East Rift Zone and summit.

The observatory reports there are large areas of hot, rugged and unstable lava surfaces that could collapse at any moment.

Though sulfur gas emissions have dropped, high levels may be present in areas downwind.

Laze and lava delta collapses also remain a concern at the ocean entry. “Hydrovolcanic explosions may still occur during collapses of lava deltas in areas where the coastline has extended,” the observatory said.

Rockfalls and ground cracking can also still occur at the summit without warning.

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