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Fountain replaced by lava pond at Mauna Loa’s fissure 3 vent

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Aerial image of fissure 3 erupting on Mauna Loa’s Northeast Rift Zone the morning of December 10, 2022. The eruption output has greatly decreased over the past two days and within the fissure 3 cone, geologists noted a small lava pond rather than a lava fountain. USGS image by K. Mulliken.

Update: 9:36 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022

A lava pond has replaced the fountains of lava at Mauna Loa’s fissure 3 vent, as scientists report a reduced supply of lava and gas emissions Saturday morning.

“The pond fed short lava flows that extended only 1.6 miles from the vent but are already stagnating,” according to a USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory update. “The channels below this point appear drained of lava and no longer feed the main flow front.”


The now inactive main flow front remains stalled about 1.7 miles from the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) when last measured on Thursday afternoon.  HVO scientists say the inactive main flow front still glows at night and “may inch northward very slowly as it settles.” 

The HVO reports that tremor (a signal associated with subsurface fluid movement) continues a “slow and steady decline,” indicating that magma supply to the vent is decreasing.   

HVO scientists say the significance of the reduced supply of lava is not yet clear, but note “it is common for eruptions to wax and wane or pause completely.” The HVO reports that while none of the eight recorded eruptions from Mauna Loa’s Northeast Rift Zone returned to high eruption rates after those rates decreased significantly, scientists continue to monitor activity.

Aerial image of the lava channel issuing from fissure 3, erupting high on the Northeast Rift Zone of Mauna Loa. The reduced lava output at fissure 3 is evident in the low level of lava in the channel. Mauna Kea is visible in the background of the image. USGS image by P. Dotray.


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