East Hawaii News

Kilauea Experiences Week of Explosive Events

January 11, 2016, 9:48 AM HST
* Updated January 11, 10:05 AM
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Photo still taken from Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Jan. 8 video.

Explosions have been a highlight at Kilauea volcano to kickoff the year. Heightened activity at Kilauea’s summit both began and closed out last week, including a total of three volcanic explosions.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory noted that in addition to volcanic explosions on Jan. 2 and Jan. 4, another small explosion took place at the volcano’s summit early Friday morning.

Just before 4 a.m. on Friday, a rockfall and small explosion led to lava fragments hurled onto the crater rim, according to HVO officials.

Heightened lava lake levels have increased the likelihood of the explosive events, which were also seen on Jan. 2 and Jan. 4. Last week, the lava lake was about 100-115 feet below the vent rim, making rocks in the vent wall in an environment that allows them to expand and become unstable. HVO officials say these rocks are then more likely to collapse into the lava lake.

During Friday’s explosive event, large rocks triggered an explosive event that propelled volcanic rock fragments up, hurling incandescent fragments onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu crater about 360 feet above the lava lake surface.

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On Saturday, Kilauea’s summit showed a deflationary trend in tilt. On Sunday, the summit began to inflate before switching over to a deflationary trend in tilt just before midnight.

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HVO officials say seismic tremor at the summit has been weakly variable with small changes in the vigor of spattering on the lava lake.

At Puʻu ʻŌʻō, persistent glow continues to be observed at long-term sources within the crater and high on the northeast flank of the cone. No significant tilt was noted over the past day, however, a slight overall inflationary trend is on record during the past week.

June 27, 2014 lava flow observations continue to show surface flow activity. Smoke plumes are also seen in an area where lava is igniting the forest.

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HVO notes that the furthest active lava from the vent is about 4 miles northeast. The June 27, 2014 flow is not threatening any communities in the area.

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Hollow Pele's tear found at Halema`uma`u overlook, following an explosive event triggered by rockfall on Jan. 8. HVO photo.

Hollow Pele’s tear found at Halema`uma`u overlook, following an explosive event triggered by rockfall on Jan. 8. HVO photo.

The January 8, 2016, rockfall and subsequent explosive event littered the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater with fragments of molten lava. In this image, you can see what remains of the Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook wooden fence, which has been repeatedly been bombarded by spatter and rock fragments since 2008. HVO photo.

The January 8, 2016, rockfall and subsequent explosive event littered the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater with fragments of molten lava. In this image, you can see what remains of the Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook wooden fence, which has been repeatedly been bombarded by spatter and rock fragments since 2008. HVO photo.

The rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater was covered in a nearly continuous blanket of tephra following following the Jan. 8 rockfall and subsequent explosive event. HVO photo.

The rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater was covered in a nearly continuous blanket of tephra following following the Jan. 8 rockfall and subsequent explosive event. HVO photo.

The 10 cm (4-inch) pocket knife in this image provides scale for one of the larger fragments of molten lava that was thrown onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater during the Jan. 8 event. HVO photo.

The 10 cm (4-inch) pocket knife in this image provides scale for one of the larger fragments of molten lava that was thrown onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater during the Jan. 8 event. HVO photo.

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