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Volcano alerts lowered as Kilauea eruption continues but poses no serious threats

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  • VIDEO BY USGS

    A live view of the eruption within Halemaumau crater.

  • COURTESY USGS
                                Kilauea volcano resumes erupting today within the Halemaumau summit crater. There is no threat to any community, Hawaii County officials said.

    COURTESY USGS

    Kilauea volcano resumes erupting today within the Halemaumau summit crater. There is no threat to any community, Hawaii County officials said.

UPDATE: Monday, 8:30 a.m.

The latest Kilauea eruption continues in Halemaumau crater but the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has downgraded its alert levels since there is no threat to the community or infrastructure.

In a statement this morning, HVO scientiests said,“The eruption within Kilauea’s summit caldera that began yesterday afternoon continues, with eruptive activity confined to the downdropped block and Halemaumau crater. HVO is lowering Kilauea’s volcano alert level from WARNING to WATCH because the style of eruption and fissure location have stabilized, the initial extremely high effusion rates have declined, and no infrastructure is threatened. Associated hazards are confined to the closed area established by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.”

HVO also lowered Kilauea’s aviation color code from “red” to “orange” because there is no threat of significant volcanic ash emission into the atmosphere outside of the closed area within the park.

“The eruption plume, composed largely of sulfur dioxide and minor volcanic particles, continues to rise to the base of the inversion level at about 8,000-10,000 feet above sea level,” HVO scientists said. “The plume concentration has decreased some due to the drop in effusion rate, but still remains high. Hazards associated with the eruption are limited and are described below.”

The summit eruption is expected to continue and remain confined to the caldera within the park, they said.

Sunday, 9:20 p.m.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists said the Kilauea eruption that began Sunday continues with lava-fountain heights up to 82 feet but that no unusual activity has been observed along volcano’s East Rift Zone or Southwest Rift Zone.

The eruption remains contained to the Halemaumau summit crater and is not threatening any communities.

The afternoon eruption initially had lava fountains almost 500 feet high, according to HVO.

“Lava fountain heights have decreased since the eruption onset, but remain up to about 65-82 feet high,” an HVO update said. “Summit earthquake activity greatly diminished following the eruption onset and was replaced by continuous eruptive tremor (a signal associated with fluid movement). Volcanic gas emissions in the eruption area are elevated,” the update said.

Kilauea’s volcano alert level and aviation color code will remain at “WARNING/RED” as hazards associated with the eruption onset are evaluated overnight, scientists said.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

Kilauea volcano began erupting Sunday within Halemaumau crater less than two months after the last summit eruption stopped.

Today’s eruption was observed at about 3:15 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The eruption followed seismicity activity and “rapid uplift” of the summit, according to the USGS.

USGS initially raised Kilauea’s volcano alert level today from “advisory” to “watch” with seismic activity today and now to “warning” following the eruption.

“The opening phases of eruptions are dynamic,” USGS said in a news release. “Webcam imagery shows fissures at the base of Halemaumau crater generating lava flows on the surface of the crater floor. The activity is confined to Halemaumau and the hazards will be reassessed as the eruption progresses.”

Hawaii County officials sent an alert emphasizing that “there are NO communities threatened at this time.”

“Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. You will be updated of any changes that may affect your safety,” the county alert said.

In 2018, Kilauea’s Leilani Estates eruption destroyed 723 structures, many of them homes, causing an estimated $290 million in damage to buildings and $270 million to county roads and water supply infrastructure.

Since then, Kilauea has erupted several times in Halemaumau crater without threatening life or property. The last crater eruption stopped on June 19.

Correction: Kilauea has erupted several times within Halemaumau crater since the destructive 2018 Leilani Estates eruption. An earlier version of this story said today’s eruption was the first since 2018.
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