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No Additional Magma Flowing Into Kīlauea’s Rift Zones, Data Shows

January 4, 2021, 9:31 AM HST
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8:35 AM HST Monday, Jan. 4, 2021: USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

Early on Jan. 3, 2021, the west vents in Halema‘uma‘u spattered from two places at the top of a small cone plastered on the northwest wall. This process can be seen in Kīlauea Volcano’s summit F1 thermal webcam view of the lava lake. USGS photo by H. Dietterich.

Lava activity continues to be confined to Halemaʻumaʻu with lava erupting from vents on the northwest side of the crater. On Sunday afternoon, the lava lake was 623 feet deep and had a volume of 34 million cubic yards.

The most recent thermal map (Dec. 30) provided the lake dimensions as 875 by 580 yards for a total area of 82 acres. The lake is now perched about a yard above its narrow edges as measured on Jan. 3; overflows onto the narrow edge slowly elevated a low wall around the lake similar to an above-ground swimming pool.

SO2 emission rates were still elevated.

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The west vents spattered from two places at the top of a small cone plastered on the northwest wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. Lava is also emerging as a small dome fountain in front of the west vents probably from a submerged portion of the vent. Both of these sources can be seen in the thermal webcam view of the lava lake.

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There is no seismic or deformation data to indicate that additional magma is currently moving into either of Kīlauea’s rift zones.

Sulfur dioxide emission rate measurements made Jan. 1 were about 4,400 t/d and in the range 3,000-6,500 t/d since Sunday (Dec. 27) — the same range of values that were common for emissions from the pre-2018 lava lake. Seismicity remained elevated but stable, with steady elevated tremor and a few minor earthquakes.

The main island of cooler, solidified lava floating in the lava lake continued settling in front of the west lava source filling the lake, while the other 10 or so small islands moved a bit around the east end of the lake. The main island measured about 820 feet in length, 440 feet in width, and about 7 acres in area based on the Dec. 30 thermal map. Measurements Jan. 1 showed that the island surface was about 20 feet above the lake surface.

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