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Kilauea Volcano: Latest Status Report

Posted by feww on May 14, 2009


Wednesday, May 13, 2009 7:43 AM HST (Wednesday, May 13, 2009 17:43 UTC)

This report was prepared by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park status can be found at or 985-6000. Hawai`i County Viewing Area status can be found at 961-8093.

19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
A new skylight and the Kupapa`u delta continues to build (29 April 2009)

A new skylight provides a view into one of the two major lava tubes on the coastal plain. Although only the incandescent tube walls can be seen in this photo, another vantage point provided a partial view of the flowing lava stream.

The Kupapa`u delta continues to build. This portion of the delta expanded about 30 yards eastward since last week’s field visit. A small lava stream could be seen at the front edge of the delta today, but no littoral explosions were observed. Both images and captions: USGS/ HVO

Arching fountain approximately 10 m high issuing from the western end of the 0740 vents, a series of spatter cones 170 m long, south of Pu‘u Kahaualea. Episodes 2 and 3 were characterized by spatter and cinder cones, such as Pu‘u Halulu, which was 60 m high by episode 3 (photo by J.D. Griggs USGS/ HVO 02/25/83, JG928).
Activity Summary for past 24 hours: Glow from the Halema`uma`u vent continues to be visible. Lava from east rift zone vents continues to flow through tubes to the coast and is entering the ocean at two locations west of Kalapana. Sulfur dioxide emission rates from the Halema`uma`u and Pu`u `O`o vents remain elevated.

Past 24 hours at Kilauea summit: A molten lava pool remains near the base of the cavity deep below the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater and is producing a visible, but decreasing in intensity, glow (recorded by both webcams pointed at it – see our new “Webcams” link at; the decreasing glow suggests that the surface of the lava pool may be receding.

This morning, the gas plume rises about 600 m (2,000 ft) above the Halema`uma`u Crater rim and moves to the west; GOES-WEST imagery shows the plume continuing to the WNW into the east flank of Mauna Loa where it is diverted southward. Sulfur dioxide emission rates remain elevated and variable; the most recent rate measurement was 1,200 tonnes/day on May 12, compared to the 2003-2007 average rate of 140 tonnes/day. Small amounts of mostly ash-sized tephra continue to be produced consisting mostly of Pele’s hair, irregular pieces of vesicular glass, and a few hollow spherules. Gas-rushing and rockfall sounds were again heard during the morning collection routine.

Tremor levels remain at moderate values. Two earthquake were located beneath the south summit, five on south flank faults, and only one earthquake was located in the area about 4 km (3 mi) northwest of Halema`uma`u Crater. The number of RB2S2BL earthquakes were within background levels.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is one of five volcano observatories within the U.S. Geological Survey and is responsible for monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawai`i.

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