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Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park: ‘Pele is taking a break’

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An image from a U.S. Geological Survey webcam at 1:50 p.m. on March 9 of Halemaʻumaʻu crater and the lava lake inside the Kīlauea caldera. The eruption that started Jan. 5 and was confined to the crater has paused after 61 days of activity.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park started a March 7 update on Facebook about activity at Kīlauea volcano by saying: “Pele is taking a break.”

After 61 days of lava activity and some impressive fountaining, the eruption that began Jan. 5 and was confined within Halema‘uma‘u crater is currently paused.

“You could spot some glow within hornitos along the crater floor, but no new lava is erupting,” the post said.

Hornitos are rootless spatter cones that form on the surface of a lava flow, or in Kīlauea’s case a lava lake.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported the pause that morning: “Lava is no longer flowing on the crater floor where all recent activity has been confined.”


The observatory said in its Kīlauea update Thursday morning that the eruption’s pause is related to a large deflationary tilt signal that began Feb. 17. Deflationary tilt is a standard process involving hours or days of deflation of the volcano’s ground. An eruption stops as pressure continues to drop.

A small ooze-out of lava was observed just after 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, in the footprint of the western lava lake in the basin formed at the end of the 2021-22 crater eruption, before diminishing overnight.

However, while several hornitos glowed in overnight webcams and additional ooze-outs are possible, there continued to be no active lava visible in the crater and no significant changes had been observed in either of the volcano’s rift zones.

Another image from a U.S. Geological Survey webcam, this one at 1:48 p.m. Thursday, March 9, of Halemaʻumaʻu crater and the lava lake inside the Kīlauea caldera.

Volcanic tremor — a seismic signal associated with underground magma movement —remained slightly elevated, but was near background level Thursday morning.

You can keep up with the latest eruption updates by visiting the national park’s website or the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Kīlauea page, where you also can learn about any continued hazards associated with the eruption, such as vog, or volcanic fog, levels.


Meanwhile, at 13,681 feet above sea level at the summit of Mauna Loa, which still is covered in snow, there is no active lava within Moku‘āweoweo caldera nor in the world’s largest active volcano’s rift zones, including at the 2022 eruption site.

“Satellite imagery shows the entire 2022 flow field is cooling and no longer active,” the weekly update from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

The update added that earthquake rates remain low, with no detectable volcanic tremor. Deformation rates indicate ongoing inflation slightly above background levels, which is not uncommon after an eruption.

March 10 marks three months since the lava supply to fissure 3, the dominant vent during the 2022 Mauna Loa eruption, ceased. The eruption that began Nov. 27, 2022, was the volcano’s first in 38 years. It sent lava flows down the mountain’s northeast flank, with the leading edge of the main flow from fissure 3 coming within less than 2 miles of Daniel K. Inouye Highway, or Saddle Road.

The volcano observatory said Dec. 13, 2022, that Mauna Loa was no longer erupting after putting on a spectacular show seen by tens of thousands of people throughout the 12 days of lava flowing down the mountain.


For more information about Mauna Loa, click here.

There was no active lava flowing anywhere on the Big Island as of Thursday.

But as almost always occurs, curiosity remains about when one or both of the volcanoes will awaken.

“So, is Mauna Loa going to start up again?” asked Donald Klees in a reply to Hawai‘i National Park’s March 7 Facebook post.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continues to closely monitor seismicity and deformation at Mauna Loa and expects additional shallow earthquake activity and other signs of unrest to precede any future eruption — if one were to happen.

The observatory also continues to keep an eye on Kīlauea for any signs of renewed activity and will issue daily updates until further notice, with any other messages issued as necessary.

With no lava flowing, take a moment to enjoy the other side of the land of fire and ice. Recent storms have blanketed Mauna Loa and Maunakea with tons of snow, and their white-capped summits have posed for an out-of-this-world view. The International Space Station on March 6, the day before the Kīlauea eruption paused, was orbiting Earth 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean and captured a gorgeous picture of the two displaying their winter best.

The Big Island and its two snow-capped mountains, from left, Mauna Loa and Maunakea are pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean on March 6. Courtesy of NASA.
Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at [email protected]
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