Summit eruption at Kīlauea volcano has paused
The summit eruption at Kīlauea volcano has paused, according to an update issued by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Monday evening.
“Eruptive activity—which has been confined to Halemaʻumaʻu crater within the summit caldera at Kīlauea—rapidly declined,” according to the HVO at around 4 p.m. on Monday, June 19. The Volcano Alert Level is now Watch and the Aviation Color Code is Orange.
The summit eruption of Kīlauea began within Halemaʻumaʻu crater at 4:44 a.m. on June 7, 2023.
Halemaʻumaʻu Observations: There was a rapid decline in lava fountaining and effusion at the eruptive vent on the southwest side of Halemaʻumaʻu crater on Monday afternoon, according to the HVO. “Vent activity had been vigorous up to that point in the day,” according to HVO scientists. An HVO status report indicates that circulation of the southwestern lava lake slowed thereafter, and the lake’s surface dropped by several meters.
“Some previously erupted lava continues to flow on the crater floor; this may continue over the coming hours and days while the lava proceeds to cool,” according to the HVO.
A live-stream video of the crater is available at https://www.youtube.com/usgs/live or at the viewer below:
Summit Observations: Simultaneous with the decline in vent activity, seismic tremor—a signal resulting from subsurface fluid movement, and commonly associated with eruptive activity—started dropping around 4 p.m. Also, tiltmeters in the summit region detected a quick transition to inflationary tilt after tracking steady deflationary tilt since the morning of Saturday, June 17.
Rift Zone Observations: No unusual activity has been noted along the East Rift Zone or Southwest Rift Zone; steady but low rates of ground deformation and seismicity continue along both. Measurements from continuous gas monitoring stations in the middle East Rift Zone—the site of 1983–2018 eruptive activity—remain below detection limits for SO2.
Hazard Analysis: The eruption at Kīlauea’s summit is occurring within a closed area of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. High levels of volcanic gas—primarily water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)—are the primary hazard of concern, as this hazard can have far-reaching effects down-wind. As SO2 is continuously released from the summit during the eruption, it will react in the atmosphere to create the visible haze known as vog (volcanic smog) downwind of Kīlauea.
Additional hazards include Pele’s hair and other lightweight volcanic glass fragments from the lava fountains that will fall downwind of the fissure vents and dust the ground within a few hundred meters (yards) of the vent (s). Strong winds may waft lighter particles to greater distances. Residents and visitors should minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation.
Other significant hazards also remain around Kīlauea caldera from Halemaʻumaʻu crater wall instability, ground cracking, and rockfalls that can be enhanced by earthquakes within the area closed to the public. This underscores the extremely hazardous nature of Kīlauea caldera rim surrounding Halemaʻumaʻu crater, an area that has been closed to the public since late 2007.