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Fissure 8 glow not seen during morning overflight

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A small ocean entry near Ahalanui was visible during Monday morning’s overflight.

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No incandescent lava was visible in the fissure 8 cone during the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s morning overflight this morning. Steam persists on the cone and flow field due to heavy rainfall over the past several days.

The U.S. Geological Survey detected a glow coming from deep within the fissure 8 cone Saturday morning, but the glow was no longer observed during Monday morning’s overflight.

The USGS saw plenty of steam on the cone and flow field due to the heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Lane making contact with hot rock over the past few days. Only one small lava dribble entering the ocean near Ahalanui was visible Monday morning, compared with several a little over a week ago.

“Things are very quiet on the lower East Rift Zone,” said USGS geologist Janet Babb. “There’s no deformation. The seismicity is very low. … There’s a certain amount of seismicity that occurs all the time. We’re at background levels.”

A few earthquakes occurred within the last few days, including a 1.8-magnitude quake southwest of Leilani Estates, and others of 2.0 magnitude or less southeast and southwest of the volcano. But these small quakes indicate nothing abnormal, according to Babb.

The passing of Lane had little effect on the eruption, other than an increase in rockfalls at Halemaumau Crater, according to USGS, and more steam from the LERZ and Puu Oo vents, bringing the possibility of “whiteout conditions.”

During the storm USGS lost communication with several monitoring stations on the east side of the island, but has built-in redundancies, according to Babb, to make sure it can still get good coverage of an area during storms. Babb said the team will examine those stations once the weather improves.

The summit and fissure 8 have been quiet for at least three weeks. Since Aug. 6, other than a small glow from inside fissure 8 and a few scattered ocean entries, lava has pretty much ceased flowing into the channel. Since Aug. 2 there have been no collapse events at the Kilauea summit.

Summit dioxide emission rates at both the summit and LERZ since then have also been drastically reduced, according to the USGS, with the combined rate lower than at any time since late 2007.

On Aug. 17 scientists downgraded the alert level for Kilauea Volcano from a “warning” to a “watch” due to the reduction in activity.

But the fact that some incandescence, or glow, still remains makes it difficult to declare the eruption is over, according to Babb.

“We’ve been trying to figure out if it’s paused or pau,” said Babb. “I think as long as we keep seeing these little bits of incandescence, it’s hard to say it’s completely pau or completely over.”

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