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Agency upgrades aviation rating for Kilauea volcano

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    A small glow was seen from the Kilauea lower East Rift Zone in Spetember.

The U.S. Geological Survey has changed the aviation color code for Kilauea from orange to yellow after 30 days of no observed, lava activity at the surface, low rates of seismicity and minor gas emissions at the summit and Lower East Rift Zone.

“These observations indicate that resumption of eruption or summit collapse is unlikely in the near-term,” said the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in a news release.

Yellow means that the volcanic activity has decreased significantly, but continues to be monitored for possible, renewed increase.

The Federal Aviation Administration had no temporary flight restrictions due to hazards listed for Hawaii on Friday.

In addition, the USGS lowered the Volcano Alert Level for ground-based hazards from Watch to Advisory, meaning volcanic activity has decreased significantly but continues to be closely monitored for renewed activity.

A guide to the various USGS volcano alert levels and aviation color codes is available at this link. Oftentimes, the aviation color is raised due to volcanic ash, which poses a serious hazard to planes.

The USGS warned, however, that hazards are still present at the Kilauea summit and in the lower East Rift Zone eruption area.

Residents and visitors near recently active fissures and lava flows should stay informed, heed all Hawaii County Civil Defense warnings, and be prepared, if necessary, to self-evacuate in the unlikely event of renewed activity, said the USGS. Earthquakes, as well as additional aftershocks, can still occur.

Hawaii County has kept the entire flow field and vents closed and prohibits access to the area unless authorized through Civil Defense.

At the coastline, where new lava fields appear relatively stable based on helicopter overflight observations, but no intensive, ground survey has been conducted yet, said the USGS. Explosions near the coastline may still occur, and mariners should operate with caution around the new coastline.

Since early August, Kilauea has maintained a low level of activity. The last summit collapse was on Aug. 2, and no high rates of seismicity or deflationary deformation have occurred there since Aug. 4.

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