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Lava Lake Reaches 650 Feet Depth

January 13, 2021, 10:14 AM HST
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9:39 AM HST Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021: USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

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

Around sunset on Saturday (January 9, 2021), a break in the rain allowed HVO scientists to visit and monitor the ongoing eruption in Halema‘uma‘u. The west vent is still actively effusing lava, but outflow into the lava lake is increasingly sluggish, as evidenced by slow-moving crustal plates near the once-vigorous vent outlet. Also, much of the crust in the eastern half of the lake has stagnated completely, likely because the lake level has not changed significantly in the past three days. USGS photo by H. Dietterich.

As of this morning, the lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu crater is now 650 feet deep. While lava continues to erupt from a vent on the northwest side of the crater, while the stagnant eastern half of the lake remains several yards lower.

SO2 emission rates remain elevated. The most recent sulfur dioxide emission rate measurements were 2,500 t/d on Jan. 11 — below the range of emission rates from the pre-2018 lava lake (3,000–6,500 t/d). Summit tiltmeters began recording deflationary tilt this morning.

Seismicity remains elevated but stable, with steady elevated tremor and a few minor earthquakes. There is no seismic or deformation data to indicate that additional magma is currently moving into either of Kīlauea’s rift zones. SO2 and H2S emissions from Puʻu ʻŌʻō were below instrumental detection levels when measured on Jan. 7.

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Low fountaining from the west vent supplies a channel of lava which is pouring into the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u crater.

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The eastern part of the lava lake no longer appeared to have perched rims during yesterday’s field observations, but the active western half was still perched at least 1–2 m (yards) above the inactive crust between the perched lake and the crater wall.

All of the islands have been stationary over the past several days as if frozen in the eastern stagnant portions of the lava lake. The dimensions of the main island remained unchanged with its edges several yards above the lake surface. On Jan. 12, the west end of the island was measured as 26 feet above the lava lake surface, with the highest point at 75 feet above the surface.

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