Hawaii: Halemaumau volcano spews lava as it erupts
The USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) is monitoring an ongoing eruption at the Kilauea volcano. On the evening of Sunday, December 20, an earthquake swarm began at around 8.30pm HST beneath the Kilauea summit. The HVO said it had recorded a magnitude-4.4 earthquake located beneath the south flank of the Kilauea volcano.
The Hawaii Volcano Observatory noted “a bright glow” and “vigorous steam plume” beginning approximately 9.30pm HST.
The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Washington warned earlier this week a volcanic ash plume rose up to an estimated 30,000ft (9100m) altitude, or flight level 300.
KGMB reported the glow of the eruption could be seen as far away as the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea – the highest point in the state of Hawaii.
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The HVO reported “weak to light shaking” was felt across the island of Hawaii as a result of the quake.
A WATCH alert level and an aviation ORANGE colour code has now been issued.
Over the past 10 hours, HVO have reported fountaining lava from three fissure vents on the north and northwest walls of Halemaʻumaʻu crater.
The lava fountains from these vents are estimated to reach up to 82ft in height.
The latest USGS report from the Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) states a lava lake is growing at the base of the crater as a result of the fountains.
The report states: “The water lake at the summit of Kīlauea has boiled away and an effusive eruption has commenced, with three vents in the wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater generating lava flows that are contributing to a growing lava lake at the base of Halemaʻumaʻu crater.
“The eruption is currently confined to Halemaʻumaʻu crater.”
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The lava lake surrounding the volcano has been rising “approximately several metres” per hour since the start of the eruption.
The lava lake has been described by the HVO as exhibiting a “circular perimeter” but a “stagnant centre”.
USGS volcanoes tweeted: “Two fissure vents continue to feed lava into lake at the summit of Kīlauea.
“Video from today’s helicopter overflight shows northern fissure supplying the majority of lava into the lake; western fissure feeds several small channels entering the lake.”
The Kilauea volcano is located within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Kilauea has erupted 34 times since 1952 and is the youngest and southeastern most volcano on the island of Hawaii.
Kīlauea Volcano had “maintained a low level of non-eruptive unrest since the end of the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption and summit collapse”, according to the HVO.
The event deepened the Halemaʻumaʻu crater by over 500 metres (1640ft).
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