Volcano news - Archive Nr. 20

Update 19:58 UTC:
For the past several days, intermittent small explosions have occurred at the west end of Fissure 17 (Kīlauea Volcano’s Lower East Rift Zone). These explosions have thrown large pieces of spatter to a height of about 500 ft. or 150 m. This video captures explosions on May 16. AV: spectacular !


Update 17:07 UTC:
New fissure erupts between fissures 3 and 7, Leilani Estates, Kīlauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone.
This aerial view from 3:00 p.m. HST on May 17, captures a new erupting fissure (number 21, located between fissures 3 and 7) and lava flow in Leilani Estates. This view is toward the west.

Update 06:54 UTC:
Sentinel-1 interferogram shows deformation of Kilauea during May 11-17.
Radar #interferogram based on data collected by the ESA - European Space Agency #Sentinel-1 satellite on May 11 and May 17 (both at 6:15 AM local time) and showing surface #deformation at #Kilauea #Volcano during that time span. Colored fringes indicate motion of the surface towards or away from the satellite; the more fringes that exist, the more the surface has moved.
The interferogram indicates about 60 cm maximum subsidence centered on the caldera during May 11-17. There is little deformation in the middle part of the East Rift Zone, while fringes in the lower East Rift Zone are a sign of rift spreading and continued magma intrusion in that area. Small offsets along faults in the Koa`e fault system, south of the caldera, are a consequence of subsidence of the summit region.

Update 06:50 UTC: Latest official report at 02:05 UTC

Kīlauea Volcano Summit
After the explosive eruption early this morning seismic levels have been gradually increasing, but as of this report no additional explosions have occurred.
No earthquakes greater than magnitude 3.5 have occurred in the past day.
Volcanic gas emissions at the summit remain high.

Kīlauea Lower East Rift Zone
This afternoon, fissure 17 is still actively spattering but the flow is nearly stalled. In addition, fissures 18, 19, and 20 have reactivated and a new fissure (21) has opened between fissures 7 and 3. An area 50-100 yards wide, parallel to and north of the line of fissures between Highway 130 and Lanipuna Gardens, has dropped slightly. This long depression is currently being filled by pahoehoe lava flows from fissures 20 and 21.
Volcanic gas emissions remain elevated throughout the area downwind of the fissures.
Magma continues to be supplied to the lower East Rift Zone as indicated by the continued northwest displacement of a GPS monitoring station. Elevated earthquake activity continues, but earthquake locations have not moved farther downrift in the past couple of days.
USGS/HVO continues to monitor the lower East Rift Zone activity 24/7 in coordination with Hawaii County Civil Defense, with geologists onsite to track ongoing and new fissure activity and the advance of lava flows.

May 18

Update 21:54 UTC: Official HVO report at 20:00 UTC (bad weather continues)

At this time, based on HVO web cameras, a robust plume of gas, steam, and some ash is billowing out of the Overlook vent and drifting generally southwest.
At any time, activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles very near the vent. Communities downwind should be prepared for ashfall as long as this activity continues.

Update 17:30 UTC: As far as we can see now, the earthquake activity has seriously decreased which is normal as the ash explosions are continuing at about 40% strength from the main explosion.

Update 17:27 UTC: Unfortunately NO video from the explosion as yet. Reason : very early in the morning and additionally very bad weather in the Kilauea area. We hope that some decent video's, eventually from the other islands, will show up soon.

Update 17:01 UTC: Official statement of the Hawaii volcano center, just in.

Update 16:54 UTC:

Update 16:40 UTC: This is by far the best picture i have seen from this morning powerful ash erption as seen from the Mauno Loa volcano summit (another big island volcano)

Update 16:28 UTC: As far as we can see people have been told shetering for ash and not for explosive danger. We will bring more as we get more information.

Update 16:25 UTC: Really bad weather up there obstructing the eruption from the distance but as far as we can see on the webcams, there is, besides ash, NO continuous explosive eruption.

Update 16:17 UTC: This powerful crater eruption may take the pressure away from the rift zone (fissures area) and will stop the frequent earthquakes.

Update 16:14 UTC: AP reports :

Mike Poland, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, confirmed the explosion on Thursday. It comes after more than a dozen fissures recently opened miles to the east of the crater and spewed lava into neighborhoods.
Those areas were evacuated as lava destroyed at least 26 homes and 10 other structures.
The crater sits within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed since May 11.
Officials have said they didn’t expect the explosion to be deadly as long as people remained out of park.

Update 16:08 UTC: Kilauea has forcebly erupted just a while ago. This is the image 9 mintes ago. A lot of ash and volcano bombs as described by people who saw it but no official news yet.

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)
See below for the latest video update from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) with volcanologist Michelle Coombs.

In the video, Michelle reports that there was a larger explosive eruption from the Overlook Crater within Halema'uma'u Crater at the summit area of Kilauea volcano just after 4 a.m. (local time) on 17th May. The eruption only lasted a few minutes, but produced an ash cloud that reached an altitude of around 30,000 ft / 9 km above sea level. There were reports of ash fall within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and nearby Volcano village. At the time of the video report (around 3 hours after the main eruption) the eruptive plume was still reaching altitudes of around 12,000 ft / 3.5 km above sea level. HVO were expecting the summit area activity to continue to wax and wane in this manner for the foreseeable future.

May 18, 2018

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory updates: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/status.html
Hawaii County Civil Defense alerts: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts
Hawaii Interagency Vog Information Dashboard: https://vog.ivhhn.org/

Vog Measurement and Prediction Project: http://mkwc.ifa.hawaii.edu/vmap/hysplit/
Ash hazards and how to mitigate impacts: http://www.ivhhn.org/ash-protection

Update (02:00 UST) :
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HEMA - @Hawaii_EMA) and Hawaii State Department of Health (HSDH - @HIgov_Health) have issued this statement entitled 'Precautionary Measures For Residential Rainwater Catchment Users During Volcanic Activity'. Volcanic ash emissions contain metals and make (rain)water acidic, which can contaminate drinking water.


Further update:
Following a couple of earthquakes of around M3.5 (to be confirmed!) within about 8 km of Volcano village, the Hawaii Department of Transport (HDoT) report minor cracking on Highway 11 in the vicinity of the entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The highway remains open, but drivers are advised to exercise caution along this stretch of road.

via Hawaii Department of Transport (@DOTHawaii)

See below for the latest video update from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) on the continuing activity at both the summit area of Kilauea volcano and along the East Rift Zone (ERZ)

via USGS / HVO - May 16, 2018

Ash venting from the Overlook Crater within Halema'uma'u Crater at the summit area of Kilauea became intermittently more intensive several times over a period of several hours yesterday. The venting was triggered by rock falls due to further erosion of the crater walls of the Overlook Crater. Ballistics, i.e. rocks up to 60 cm (2 ft.) in length were ejected across Halema'uma'u Crater to a nearby parking lot.

The eruption plume reached altitudes of over 3 km (10,000-12,000 ft.) above sea level, as determined by the National Weather Service doppler radar and pilot reports. HVO temporarily raised the Aviation Alert Level from Orange to Red, and a volcano observatory notification to aviation (VONA) was issued to warn aircraft of the volcanic ash hazards. Note that the AAL is NOT the same as the Volcanic Alert Level, which is currently at Warning level.

The plume was blown with tradewinds to the southwest of Big Island across the Ka'u Desert area, with trace amounts of ashfall reported on Highway 11 as far as Pahala.

via USGS / HVO - view from the HVO observation tower

View towards the summit area of Kilauea from Volcano Golf Club - via Annabelle Lewis

via USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes)

The ash venting activity at the summit area had diminished again by late afternoon / early evening. HVO expect that increases and decreases in this activity will continue.

The latest report from HVO is that the tradewinds have slackened, which means that there is likely to be more ash fall and higher sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels within the summit area of Kilauea and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and Volcano village instead of dispersal to the south west. These conditions create vog, which creates hazy air pollution that appears similar to fog, but due to volcanic gas emissions, mainly water vapor (H20), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). This area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains temporarily closed due to this activity.

via USGS / HVO - the summit area of Kilauea as of 00:30 UST May 17th / 13:30 local time May 16th

Fissure eruptions (i.e. eruptions from cracks in the ground) continue along the East Rift Zone in the Lower Puna area of Big Island, Hawaii. Lava spatter and lava flows continue to erupt from Fissure 17, but at a much slower rate than previously. Activity from Fissure 13 has re-activated.

via Mileka Lincoln (@MilekaLincoln)

via USGS / HVO - aerial footage shot around 07:30 a.m. local time on May 16th, 2018


Map of the East Rift Zone in the southeast of Big Island - updated 07:00 a.m. on May 15th, 2018.

With regards to questions about the potential for tsunamis related to the stability of Kilauea's southern flank, such rumours are unfounded. This report from the USGS / HVO explains the facts and why this phenomenon would be unlikely.


U.S. west coast volcano experts - live chat (Philippa)
Yesterday there was a live chat on Reddit for the public to pose questions to volcanologists, who are experts on various different U.S. volcanoes. The experts included Mike Poland (Scientist-In-Charge at Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, formerly at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory), Carolyn Driedger (USGS / Cascades volcanoes), Andy Lockhart (Mount Rainier), and others.

There was some friendly rivalry between the volcanologists as well as more serious and informed answers to people's questions.

You can retrospectively read the Reddit feed at the link below. Our good friend Brian Terbush, who is the Emergency Management Division Volcano and Earthquake Program Coordinator for Washington State, will be checking this link for the next day if you have any questions about the volcanoes along the west coast of the U.S., which includes the Cascades Range.


Italian volcanoes and wine (Philippa)
An interesting article by Susan H. Gordon in Forbes online content: Why Italy's Volcanoes Matter To Its Wines: https://www.forbes.com/sites/susangordon/2018/05/16/why-italys-volcanoes-matter-to-its-wines/#558e52cb7710


Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: 9 - 15 May,  2018
Via Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program / US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA)
On 9 May the intermittent eruption of lava in Leilani Estates in the lower East Rift Zone (ERZ) of Kilauea continued. In the northeast part of the area, fissure 15 extended across Poihiki Road, generating a pahoehoe flow about 20 m (66 ft) long. In the summit caldera, steady lowering of the Overlook Crater lava lake within Halema`uma`u crater raised the potential for steam-driven explosions if the lava column dropped to the groundwater level and allowed water into the conduit. On 10 and 11 May, little new extrusive activity was noted from the ERZ fissures, though there were continued earthquakes, ground deformation, and considerable gas discharge. Tiltmeters recorded ongoing deflation and the Overlook crater lava level continued to drop.

Fissure 16 opened at 0645 on 12 May near the end of Hinalo Road. It produced a lava flow that traveled about 230 m before stalling around 1430. An area that had been actively steaming developed into fissure 17, reported at 1800 just east of fissure 16, and was actively spattering and degassing. At the summit, rockfalls from the steep walls into Overlook crater generated intermittent small steam-and-ash clouds throughout the day.

Lava eruptions continued on 13 May along the lower ERZ. Aerial observations showed that a new outbreak in the early morning about 900 m NE of the end of Hinalo Street and 900 m S of Highway 132 was several hundred yards long and ejected spatter along with a slow-moving lava flow. By late in the day this activity from fissure 17 was dominated by lava fountaining, explosions that sent spatter bombs to 100 m into the air, and several advancing lava flow lobes moving generally NE; as of 1900 one lobe was 2 m thick and advancing roughly parallel to Highway 132. Steady, vigorous plumes of steam and occasionally minor amounts of ash rose from the Overlook vent and drifted downwind to the SW. Later in the day, ash clouds rose up to 650 m (2,000 ft) above the vent. Several strong earthquakes shook the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the surrounding area overnight.

Activity on the morning of 14 May in the lower ERZ was dominated by lava fountaining, explosions of spatter more than 30 m (100 ft) into the air, and an advancing flow from fissure 17 at the NE end of the fissure system. As of 0630, the fissure 17 flow had traveled about 1.6 km roughly ESE parallel to the rift zone. Fissure 18 was weakly active. A 19th fissure spotted around 0800 just NE of Pohoiki Road and N of Hinalo Street produced a sluggish lava flow. Volcanic gas emissions remained elevated throughout the area downwind of the vents. Deflationary tilt at the summit continued and seismicity remained elevated.

On the morning of 15 May activity remained concentrated at fissure 17. The lava flow had advanced about 380 m since 1430 on 14 May. At 0645 the flow was nearly 2.5 km long. However, the advance of the flow had slowed significantly since that afternoon. Also in the morning a new fissure (20) located near fissure 18 produced two small pads of lava. Ash emission from the Overlook crater increased compared to previous days. Although varying in intensity, at times the plume contained enough ash to be gray in color. Variable pulses sent the cloud to an estimated 1-1.3 km (3-4,000 ft) above the ground. The ash cloud drifted generally W and SW from the summit and ash fell in the Ka'u Desert. On 15 May the Aviation Color Code was raised from Orange to Red and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Warning.

Merapi | Central Java (Indonesia)
(Indonesian volcano monitoring agency) PVMBG reported that an explosive eruption occurred at 0740 on 11 May. The eruption began with a small roar and vibrations that were felt at the observation post for 10 minutes. The eruption plume rose to 5.5 km (18,000 ft) above the peak. There was no seismic precursor and no seismic activity continued after the event. PVMBG did not change the alert level from Green/Normal; they interpreted the event as a minor eruption triggered by the accumulation of volcanic gases unlikely to be followed by further eruptions.

Öræfajökull | Iceland
On 4 May, the Icelandic Met Office reduced the Aviation Color Code at Öræfajökull from Yellow to Green due to signs of reduced activity. Since September 2017 there has been less earthquake activity, stable hydrological and geochemical measurements, and reduced geothermal heat output. There has been possible minor ongoing inflation, but no signs of an imminent eruption.

Piton de la Fournaise | Reunion Island
OVPF reported that the eruption at Piton de la Fournaise, which began on 27 April from fissures at Rivals Crater, continued through 15 May. Field reconnaissance on 10 May revealed that activity was focused on the main cone, with some activity from a second cone that was ejecting material 10-20 m high. Over the next two days the crater of the main cone narrowed and lava projections at both cones became rare. Lava flows during this time were often confined to tubes, with some breakouts at the change in slope below Piton de Bert, about 3 km from the active cone. Burning vegetation as a result of the breakouts was visible on and at the foot of the rampart. Based on satellite data when surface flows were visible, lava emission rates were estimated to be about 1-2 cubic meters/second. Tremor intensity fluctuated over the week, with a sharp increase during 0500 and 0900 on 15 May.

Sangeang Api | Indonesia
Based on a volcano observatory notification to aviation (VONA) from PVMBG, on 9 May a gas emission was observed at 1807 from Sangeang Api that rose to 4,150 m (13,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted west. On 9 May the Aviation Color Code was changed from unassigned to Yellow.

May 17, 2018

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)
USGS / HVO updates: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/status.html
Hawaii County Civil Defense alerts: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts
National Park Services (Hawaii) updates: https://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm

See the link (above) for the video update with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO's) Scientist-In-Charge - Tina Neal - from 14th May 2018. The video also features aerial footage of fissure eruption #17 shot on 13th May 2018.

via USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes) / YouTube


At the summit area of Kilauea, Tina reports that there are currently continuous emissions of steam, occasionally with ash content up-drafted following further small collapses of the Overlook Crater conduit walls. The ash content turns the plume a slightly pink or brown colour. As of yesterday the diffusive steam plume was slightly larger than previously, possibly containing fragments of fresh lava coming through at the bottom of the rubble pile within the conduit.

Overhead image of the summit area of Kilauea volcano, including Halema'uma'u Crater and the active Overlook Crater, taken on 14th May 2018 from the International Space Station - via A.J.(Drew) Feustel (@Astro_Feustel)

Tina explains that there is no evidence yet for a more vigorous, pressure-driven steam plume at the summit of Kilauea, but this is something that HVO are still concerned about in the near future. They continue to monitor the situation closely. As a precaution, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park still remains closed temporarily at this summit area. See the National Park Services (Hawaii) link above for further details.

For more background regarding the potential for a bigger, more explosive eruption at the summit area, click on this hyperlink for the latest weekly Volcano Watch blog by HVO:


With regards to the fissure (crack) eruptions through which lava is fountaining and flowing in the Lower Puna area (SE Big Island) of the East Rift Zone (ERZ), fissure #17 was still active as of yesterday, running parallel but to the south of Highway 132 on Big Island. Lava spatter was being ejected to heights of around 100 ft. (~30m) into the air and the volcanic gas emissions could be audibly heard as jetting-type noise**. A'a lava flows had reached about a mile (~1.8 km) away from the fissure in an easterly direction.

HVO field crews are working round the clock in the area, including mapping the extent of lava flows, taking samples of lava spatter for analysis in the lab (looking at factors such as volcanic gas content and crystal content, which gives an indication of whether this eruptive activity is from a fresh upwelling of magma**, or whether the magma has pooled and accumulated underground before erupting), making observations, and so on. They are working closely with the Hawaii County Civil Defense, who then update road closures and  evacuation plans, and co-ordinate as necessary with emergency services and utility companies.

** As an acoustician, jetting noise is indicative of the release of volcanic gases under pressure, which to me would indicate that this lava is from a relatively fresh batch of magma that has not had time to effusively de-gas before erupting. However, this is my personal interpretation, and would require the lab analysis of the lava spatter samples to verify this.

Two more fissures formed yesterday. Fissure 18 was weakly active. Sluggish lava flows were spotted from fissure 19, which is located northeast of Pohoiki Road and north of Hinalo Street at the east end of Lanipuna Gardens. Local residents have been evacuated from this area.

via USGS / YouTube

For an up-to-date map showing the locations of all the fissure eruptions, see https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/multimedia_maps.html

Shinmoedake, Kagoshima prefecture, Kyushu, Japan (Philippa)
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) Korea Dake webcam captured an eruption yesterday at Shinmoedake volcano, which is part of the Kirishima volcanic complex.

via F.IKGM (@geoign)

...and the same eruption captured from a different angle - via TAKA (@takanotsubuyaki)

Cascades volcano range, Washington State, USA (Philippa)
There has been scaremongering in the popular press and social media that the activity from Kilauea on Big Island, Hawaii, could trigger eruptions from volcanoes on the west coast of the U.S. This is...how can we put it...a load of crap.

The magmatic system under Hawaii is fed by a 'hot spot', a hot, buoyant mantle plume. In contrast, the volcanoes along the west coast of the U.S., in particular Alaska and Washington State are fed by partial melt, which is produced from the subduction of one tectonic plate under another. Different types of magma, different eruptive styles, not in any way connected.

If you have any questions about the volcanism of the west coast of the U.S., several volcanologists, including from the Cascades Volcano Observatory and the Earthquake / Volcano Program at Washington State Military Department, will be available to answer your questions today (Tuesday 15th May) between 1.00-3.00 p.m. PST on Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/)

For further details see also @WashEMD on Twitter or this link on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WashEMD/

May 15, 2018

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)
In the latest video update from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)'s Scientist-In-Charge - Tina Neal - a 16th fissure (crack) eruption of lava has occurred 1.3 km to the north-east of Fissure #15 in Leilani Estates Sub-Division. (see below the video for an updated map posted by Hawaii County Civil Defense).

At the time of this update there was just lava spatter from Fissure #16, no lava flows. Slightly more worrying with this fissure though is that it is just 500 m to the north east of the Puna Geothermal Venture site (top right in the photo below).

HCCD report that Highway 132 in the Puna area remains open.

via USGS / HVO / Hawai'i County Fire Department - taken around 08:27 local time 12th May 2018

Meanwhile, at the summit area of Kilauea volcano, there continues to be a predominantly steam-laden plume, which occasionally becomes more ash-laden due to minor collapses of the Overlook vent wall within Halema'uma'u Crater. There have not yet been any larger phreatic (steam-driven) eruptions, but HVO remains vigilant whilst the level of the lava lake continues to drop, and this part of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains temporarily closed.

via USGS / YouTube

via Hawaii County Civil Defense (@CivilDefenseHI)

View looking across Halema'uma'u Crater of the current eruption plume from the Overlook Vent.
via USGS webcam positioned in HVO's observation tower

For comparison, a couple of webcam shots captured on 12th May 2018. Both of these show more ash-rich phases than the image (above) from today. The shot on the left was a pinkish hue due to old material from the Overlook crater wall collapsing in; the shot on the right was a darker, greyer hue due to newer material collapsing in. Via USGS / HVO

Also yesterday, one of the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) captured their view of Big Island and the eruption plume from Halema'uma'u Crater from Space.

via Ricky Arnold (@astro_ricky)

Popocatepetl, Mexico (Philippa)
The image (below) of one of Popocatepetl's daily eruptions was captured yesterday (12th May 2018) at around 07:36 a.m. local time by one of (Mexican volcano monitoring agency) CENAPRED's webcams. The white colour indicates that this is predominantly a water vapor-laden plume.

The alert level is currently at 2.

via Geol. Sergio Almazan (@chematierra)

GIF from time-lapse shots captured at the same time in the morning light from San Nicolas de los Ranchos
- via Webcams de Mexico (@webcamsdemexico)

May 13, 2018

Merapi, Java, Indonesia (Philippa)
At around 07:32 a.m. local time there was a phreatic (steam-driven) eruption at Merapi volcano on the Indonesian island of Java. The eruption generated a 5.5 km high eruption plume and audible sound emissions.

via BNPB Indonesia (@BNPB_Indonesia)

A group of around 160 climbers were at the base of Merapi at the time of this phreatic eruption. All managed to safely evacuate off the volcano, and there were no fatalities. The hiking path up Merapi remains closed at this time, and there is currently a 5 km exclusion zone in place around the volcano.

via Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo_PN). Video shot by the climbers at the time of the eruption.

The eruption was relatively short-lived. By 11.30 a.m. the summit webcam, which is part of (Indonesian volcano agency) BPPTKG's monitoring equipment, showed that Merapi was back to 'normal', i.e. passive de-gassing.

via BPPTKG (@BPPTKG). Left: thermal imaging; right: normal webcam image

In the nearby city of Yogyakarta there was light ash-fall accompanying rainfall. Face masks are being issued.

Kilauea Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)

Update (00:30): as per the representative from National Park Services featured in the video (below), the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (with the exception of the Kahuku unit?) will be temporarily closed until further notice from 10.00 p.m. local time on Thursday 10th May.

The video (below), which was a live stream of a public meeting, features the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory's Scientist-In-Charge Tina Neal, staff member (and legendary volcanologist/geologist)) Don Swanson, and CVO / former HVO staff member (geophysicist) Kyle Anderson, discussing the current eruptive activity and what /might/ happen next. I say /might/ as there is a lot of uncertainty involved in trying to forecast what any volcano may or may not do in terms of future eruptive activity. Having volunteered at HVO myself 10 years ago during a volcanic crisis situation, the best that any of the observatory staff can do is to look at the activity from the past week, look also at what Kilauea historically has done in terms of eruption activity, and then consider the most likely scenarios.

In this particular video, Tina, Don, and Kyle explain why they believe there is the potential for bigger explosive eruptions at the summit area of Kilauea volcano if the lava lake level continues to fall at its current rate (2.2m per hour) and eventually falls below the level of the water table underground. They also explain the potential hazards that such a phreatic- (steam-driven) or phreato-magmatic (interaction between water and magma) eruption could generate at the summit area.

via USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes) / Big Island Video News / YouTube


Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, WA, USA (Philippa)
The US Geological Survey (USGS) Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) yesterday did a live webchat featuring their Scientist-In-Charge Seth Moran. See the link (below) of the video (fast forward to the start at about 2'30"), in which Seth explains the history of both CVO and the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP), gives a tour of CVO, and talks about Mount St Helens, which is the main volcano that this particular observatory is responsible for monitoring in the U.S.

via USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes)

Part 2:

As Seth mentions though, there are currently scientists from all the U.S. volcano observatories assisting the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) with their 24 hour watch at the moment.

May 11, 2018

Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: 2 - 8 May,  2018
Via Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program / US Geological Survey

Ibu | Halmahera (Indonesia)
At 0622 on 5 May an eruption at Ibu generated an ash plume that rose at least 600 m above the crater rim and drifted N and NE, based on information from the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay at least 2 km away from the active crater, and 3.5 km away on the N side.

Karymsky | Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)
Based on satellite data, KVERT reported that during 28 April and 2-3 May explosions at Karymsky generated ash plumes that rose as high as 5.5 km (18,000 ft) and drifted 150 km NE and SE. A weak thermal anomaly over the volcano was visible on 3 May. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA)
On 2 May HVO noted that the intrusion of magma into Kilauea’s lower East Rift Zone (ERZ) continued, with deformation and frequent earthquakes (many felt by residents). Small cracks formed on some of the roads in and adjacent to Leilani Estates. Seismicity at Pu'u 'O'o Crater remained elevated after floor collapses which began on 30 April. Short-lived ash plumes periodically rose from the crater. The lava flows on the pali near the Royal Gardens subdivision were sluggish. Deflation at the summit accelerated around midday, accompanied by a drop in the level of the lava lake.
On 3 May the intensity of the ERZ seismicity decreased slightly, and the eastward migration of hypocenters slowed or ceased; deformation continued. The lava level in Overlook crater dropped over 30 m, though spattering in the lake continued. At 1030 ground shaking from a M 5 earthquake S of Pu'u 'O'o caused rockfalls and possibly a collapse in the crater; an ash plume rose from the crater and drifted SW. More ground cracks in the E part of Leilani Estates formed that afternoon; hot white and blue fumes rose from the cracks. Lava spatter and gas bursts began erupting from 150-m-long fissures just after 1700 and ended around 1830. Lava flows spread less than 10 m, and strong sulfur dioxide odors were noted. The lava lake in the Overlook Crater dropped an additional 37 m.
By the morning of 4 May three fissures were active; fissure 2 opened at 0100 and fissure 3 opened around 0600. Spatter was ejected as high as 30 m and lava flows were traveling short distances. Large, loud bubble bursts occurred at fissure 3. Ash plumes from intermittent collapses at Pu'u 'O'o continued to rise above the crater, and the 61 G lava flow was no longer being fed. A M 6.9 earthquake occurred at 1233, centered on the S flank. Fissures 4 and 5 opened at 1039 and 1200, respectively, and by 1600 there were six, each several hundred meters long. The sixth fissure was on the E edge of the subdivision. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency stated that multiple agencies were assisting with the mandatory evacuation of residents (about 1,700) in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions. A temporary flight restriction was declared for most of lower Puna. The report noted dangerously high concentrations of sulfur dioxide.
Based on satellite InSAR data, the summit caldera floor subsided about 10 cm during 23 April-5 May. Corresponding to this deflationary trend, the summit lava lake in Overlook crater had dropped to about 128 m below the crater rim since 30 April. Summit seismicity increased during 4-5 May coincident with the M 6.9 earthquake; about 152 events (M 2-3) were recorded. Rockfalls from the inner crater walls produced ash plumes that rose above the Halema'uma'u crater rim on 5 May. New ground cracks on Highway 130 opened on 5 May, and at dawn fissure 7 formed. By mid-afternoon fissure 7 stopped erupting, and the 8th fissure opened at 2044 near fissures 2 and 7. Lava fountains from fissure 8 rose as high as 70 m, and in other areas were as high as 100 m. A lava flow from fissure 7 traveled 260 m NE. The lava lake in Overlook Crater continued to drop.
The eruption from one or two fissures was continuous during 5-7 May, and ‘a’a lava flows from fissure 8 advanced 0.9 km NNE by 1000 on 6 May. HVO warned that poor air quality from sulfur dioxide gas emissions, and smoke plumes from burning asphalt and houses was a health concern. Strong gas emissions rose from the fissures during 6-7 May, though lava effusion was minimal overnight. New cracks crossed Highway 130 west of the eruption site, and some others widened. The level of the summit lava lake continued to drop, and by 7 May was 220 m below the crater rim. Two new fissures emerged on 7 May. The first (fissure 11) opened at about 0930 in a forested area SW of Leilani Estates, and was active for about three hours. The second (fissure 12) opened at about 1220 between fissures 10 and 11. By 1515 both new fissures were active, and the W end of fissure 10 was robustly steaming. According to a news article, lava had covered an area about 36,000 square meters.
Lava effusion at night during 7-8 May was minimal, and by around 0700 on 8 May the ERZ eruption had paused. The fissure system was about 4 km long and continued to strongly emit gas. Ash plumes generated by falling rocks in Overlook crater continued to produced ash plumes. On 8 May the Office of the Mayor stated that 35 structures had been destroyed, and lava covered. HVO maps show the locations and numbers of the fissures.

Marapi | Indonesia
On 2 May at 0703 an eruption at Marapi produced a dense, gray ash plume that rose 4 km above the crater rim and drifted SE. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4). Residents and visitors were advised not to enter an area within 3 km of the summit.

Osorno | Chile
Servicio Nacional de Geología and Minería (SERNAGEOMIN) Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS) raised the Alert Level for Osorno to Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale) on 8 May, due to a gradual increase in the number and magnitude of seismic events recorded during 1-30 April. Earthquakes were concentrated on the NNW flank. The largest of the 294 total events was a M 3, located 2 km NW of the crater at a depth of 3.3 km.

Piton de la Fournaise | Reunion Island (France)
OVPF reported that the eruption at Piton de la Fournaise which began on 27 April from fissures at Rivals Crater continued through 8 May. Spattering was weak at the highest-elevation vent of the three. During fieldwork on 3 May scientists observed spattering from the central vent. Lava breakouts frequently occurred from a well-developed lava tube originating at the central vent. During 5-7 May activity was mainly confined to the lava tube, though the lava-flow front had not significantly advanced. The central vent had completely closed over by 6 May. Fires on and at the foot of the rampart were reported on 7 May. Tremor intensity had decreased during the previous few days but stabilized on 8 May.

Sakurajima volcano, Japan
James Reynolds @EarthUncutTV : Evening eruption at #Sakurjaima sending ash high above the #volcano right now

Kilauea volcano, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)

maps of fissure eruptions:

information from Hawaii County Civil Defense:

information on volcanic air pollution:

In the latest report from the US Geological Survey (USGS) / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), there have now been 15 confirmed fissure eruptions (eruptions of either fountaining lava and lava flows) within the Leilani Estates Sub-division in the Puna area of south eastern Big Island, Hawaii. Fissure 15 cuts Poihiki Road, and has generated a pahoehoe lava flow, which was about 20m long when observed yesterday.

A new steaming crack was also observed west of Highway 130 by HVO's geologists during a helicopter overflight yesterday at around 3 p.m. local time. This latest fissure is in-line with the locations of the previous eruptions, but further along. These observations are reinforced by the geophysical monitoring: increased seismicity (earthquakes) was also located to this area, and deformation monitoring using GPS indicates motion (of a renewed input of magma) down-rift along the East Rift Zone (ERZ).

Map (updated 9th May 2018) - via HVO / USGS

With regards to the summit area of Kilauea volcano, which is within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park about an hour's drive along Highway 11 from Hilo, there continues to be a deflation trend, i.e. due to the magma migrating from beneath the Halema'uma'u Crater to further along the ERZ. The floor of the crater has subsided slightly, and thermal images of the active Overlook Crater taken yesterday during a helicopter overflight by HVO indicate that the level of the lava lake has dropped to about 295 m below the floor of Halema'uma'u Crater. In stark contrast, you may remember that just two weeks ago the lava lake was overflowing, so this is quite a significant development.

3-D model of the Overlook Crater within Halema'uma'u Crater at the summit of Kilauea volcano
- created from thermal imaging shot aerially. Via HVO / USGS

A rockfall yesterday around 08:32 a.m. local time due to erosion of the the sides of the Overlook Crater perturbed the surface of the lowered lava lake and triggered an explosion. An ash plume was momentarily generated, with trade winds blowing the ash in a south-southwest direction.

via HVO / USGS

There is concern from HVO that if the level of the lava lake drops over the coming weeks to below the level of the groundwater beneath Kilauea caldera, this could generate larger steam-driven (phreatic or phreato-magmatic) eruptions from cool water coming into contact with hot lava. The debris that could be generated could be much larger and reach a further extent than the smaller ash plume eruptions, such as the one yesterday. The main potential hazards would be ballistic projectiles (outwardly-exploding rocks), which could be as big as boulder size (2 m), and which could be thrown out to distances of 1 km or more. Smaller, pebble-sized ejecta and ash would also be likely, but probably in the downwind direction. The other main hazard would be increased levels of volcanic gas emissions, in particular sulfur dioxide in addition to water vapor.

Video featuring HVO's Scientist-In-Charge, Tina Neal - via USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes)

Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park should be vigilant, and check the National Park Services website for updates on any closures due to eruptive activity at Kilauea volcano. NOTE: Certain areas of the park may still be closed due to damage following last week's M6.9 Earthquake. Other areas have been closed for the past 10 years, including Crater Rim Drive beyond the Jagger Museum, due to ongoing risks from volcanic hazards, including from noxious volcanic gases.


Osorno, Chile (Philippa)
SERNAGEOMIN, the agency responsible for monitoring the volcanoes in Chile, have raised the alert level to Yellow at Osorno volcano. For any of you who have ever visited Puerto Varas in the Chilean lake district, this is the nearest volcano that you can see from across the lake. The raising of the alert level is based on an increase in detected seismic activity over the past month: 41 volcano-tectonic (VT) events, which are indicative of magma breaking through country rock, and 253 detected long period (LP) events, which are indicative of resonance due to fluids / gases migrating through cracks in the country rock. The locations of these volcano seismic events are calculated to be around 2 km north east of the summit and at a depth of around 3.3 km.

SERNAGEOMIN report that with regards to the other monitoring signals using remote sensing / satellite observations, there has been no detected increase in sulfur dioxide emissions, and likewise no detected increases in thermal emissions.

The raising of the alert level is a precaution. If there were to be an increase in thermal emissions, this could potentially melt the ice cap on the summit of Osorno, generating lahars.

The last eruption of Osorno was in 1835.

Image via Dave McGarvie (@subglacial)

May 10, 2018