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Kīlauea Eruption Ongoing, No Major Changes, HVO Reports

October 13, 2021, 12:00 PM HST
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No significant changes have been reported as the Kīlauea volcano continues to erupt.

As of this morning, Oct. 13, 2021, lava continues to erupt from a single vent in the western wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. All lava activity is confined within Halemaʻumaʻu crater in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Seismicity and volcanic gas emission rates remain elevated.

The western end of the lava lake showed a maximum elevation of approximately 2,575 feet above sea level when measured by field crews on Oct. 12, which is a 7-foot increase over the past day and a total increase of about 138 feet since lava emerged on Sept. 29, according to USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory daily update.

The total erupted volume since the beginning of the eruption was estimated to be about 4.2 billion gallons on Oct. 8. The western vent had sustained fountain heights of 33-49 feet to more variable heights – 98 feet – observed by field crews on Oct. 12.

The fountain has built a spatter cone with an approximately 33-foot-wide opening facing east towards the lake. Lava is flowing into the lake through the spatter cone opening.

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According to the HVO daily update, the central island and several of the smaller eastern islets from the 2020 lava lake are still above the lake surface along with an island of the 2020 western vent rampart in the northwest part of the lake.

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The lava lake is not level across its surface due to the location of the vent in the western end. Areas closer to the vent are about 10-20 feet higher in elevation compared to the north and south part of the lake and 26 feet higher than the east end of the lava lake. Lava surface activity such as crustal foundering is seen on the western end of the lake and north and south of the central island but is no longer observed on the east end of the lake.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates remain high, with a measured emission rate of approximately 6,800 tonnes per day on Oct. 12, 2021, slightly higher than the past few days. Summit tilt was slightly deflationary yesterday, Oct. 12, becoming flat overnight.

No unusual activity has been noted in the Kīlauea East Rift Zone. Ground deformation motion suggests that the upper East Rift Zone—between the summit and Puʻuʻōʻo—has been steadily refilling with magma over the past year. SO2 and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emissions from Puʻuʻōʻō were below instrumental detection levels when last measured on Jan. 7, 2021.

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This new eruption at Kīlauea’s summit is occurring within a closed area of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Therefore, high levels of volcanic gas are the primary hazard of concern, as this hazard can have far-reaching effects downwind.

Large amounts of volcanic gas—primarily water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)—are continuously released during eruptions of Kīlauea Volcano. As SO2 is released from the summit, it reacts in the atmosphere to create the visible haze known as vog (volcanic smog) that has been observed downwind of Kīlauea. Vog creates the potential for airborne health hazards to residents and visitors, damages agricultural crops and other plants, and affects livestock. For more information on gas hazards at the summit of Kīlauea, click here. please see: https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/fs20173017. Vog information can be found here. at https://vog.ivhhn.org/.

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 yards of the vent(s). Strong winds may waft lighter particles to greater distances. Residents 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 early 2008.

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