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Evening Kīlauea Eruption Update, Dec 23rd

5:36 AM · Dec 24, 2020

Kīlauea continues to erupt inside Halemaʻumaʻu, filling in a significant portion of the collapse pit formed in the 2018 eruption. There is no vantage point like the one you see here available for the public to see the fissures directly, with this vantage point on the southern rim of the Kīlauea caldera closed by the National Park Service. We rely on USGS to continue to post high resolution footage of the ongoing eruption. USGS's Matthew Patrick, Brett Carr, Hannah Dietterich, and Carolyn Parcheta, and Patricia Nadeau are the USGS scientist photographers capturing the eruption to share with the world, usually multiple times per day. The lava lake which quickly replaced the previous water lake rose by 75ft in just over 24 hours between the mornings of December 22nd to the 23rd. The current depth of the lava now pooling in the crater is over three times deeper than was the ex-water lake at 521 feet deep. Activity has now focused around two primary vents which are seeing the rising lava lake encroach upon them. It’s likely lava will cover the eruptive vents if activity continues in the not too distant future. Lava has already cover the lower section of the northern eruptive vent. How long the eruption will last is another question. In the historical record and the era of modern monitoring, following a large summit collapse the eruptions that followed inside the caldera of Kīlauea where short lived, only lasting roughly a couple weeks on average. USGS-HVO reports that activity on the still active western vent has been waning, currently only seeing intermittent activity, while the northern vent continues to erupt consistently. At 2:08pm today sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels around the National Park Service Visitor Center and overlooks were at elevated levels as southern winds pushed emissions towards the more visited areas of the park. An SO2 warning was issued, but as of the time of writing monitoring stations have returned to showing more normal levels of gas in the park. There has been no indication of elevated activity on Kīlauea outside of the summit, including the Lower East Rift Zone. USGS reports minor deflation at the summit and an elevated harmonic tremor, however that tremor may be diminishing over time. "As of yesterday afternoon, the lake is over 690 m (yd) E-W axis and 410 m (yd) in N-S axis. The lake area is more than 22 hectares (54 acres)." ~ USGS Post co-written with Philip Ong. Images, graphics and captions by M. Patrick and USGS-HVO staff. Caption 1 (in order they appear): Scientists continue to monitor the ongoing eruption in Kīlauea Volcano's summit caldera, Island of Hawai‘i. This photo, from the south rim of Halema‘uma‘u crater and looking north, shows the volcanic gas plume heading west. USGS photo by M. Patrick. Caption 2: A helicopter overflight yesterday (Dec. 22, 2020) at approximately ~11:30 AM HST allowed for aerial visual and thermal imagery to be collected, which was used to map the area of Kīlauea's growing summit lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u crater. As of yesterday afternoon, the lake is over 690 m (yd) E-W axis and 410 m (yd) in N-S axis. The lake area is more than 22 hectares (54 acres). USGS photo by M. Patrick. Caption 3: This image from the KWCam viewpoint shows the glow of the lava lake illuminating the walls of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. A vigorous gas plume still rises from the lake, diffusing the glow of the lava. Caption 4: Plot showing rise of Kīlauea's summit lava lake since the eruption in Halema‘uma‘u began on December 20 at 9:30 p.m. Since then, laser rangefinder measurements of lava lake surface are made 2–3 times per day. Photos compare the lava lake on the morning of Dec. 21, when it was about 289 ft (87 m) deep, to the evening of Dec. 23 when it was about 511 ft (155 m) deep. For comparison, the water lake that was present in Halema‘uma‘u until Sunday evening was 167 ft (51 m) at its deepest, prior to vaporizing. USGS plot by H. Dietterich.

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