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Kīlauea Report: The Eruption’s Steady Pattern

3:50 AM · Sep 14, 2022

Kīlauea’s ongoing summit eruption went through a dynamic early phase, during which a larger lava lake periodically crusted over completely before lava burst forth from the evolving West Vent. However, over the last 6 months it has displayed a steadier pattern of activity. Now, a smaller, persistent lava lake continually circulates near the West Vent, complemented by large ooze-up flows that emerge from beneath the perimeter of Halemaʻumaʻu crater’s crusted surface. Since the eruption began almost one year ago on September 29th, 2021, lava has filled the then-112 acre or 45 hectare Halemaʻumaʻu crater by 469 feet or 143 meters while more than doubling its footprint to the current 294 acres or 119 hectares. Combined with the previous eruption from December 2020 to May 2021, this brings the total depth of lava in the crater to over 1211 feet or 369 meters! Much of that gain happens in the early part of each eruption, yet over the past 3 months the crater floor has still risen an average of 16 feet or 5 m each month, sometimes faster and sometimes slower but overall continuing the steady pattern. While about 70% of the elevation loss during the 2018 collapse has been refilled, due to the conical shape of the crater this only amounts to 20% of the lost volume. It still adds up to a whopping 40 billion gallons or 152 million cubic meters, almost three-quarters of it erupted within the last year. Lava has overtopped and covered a large part of the down-dropped blocks to the north and northwest of the crusted lake, and is close to spilling onto the down-dropped block to the southwest. At the current rate, it projects to spill onto the larger eastern down-dropped block in about two months, around the US Thanksgiving holiday. All this is happening within direct public view in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, with fantastic experiences captured by both locals and visitors and shared online. Views of the lava lake and its spatter bursts have been reliable, with the frequent ooze-up lava flows putting on a bonus show elsewhere around the crusted crater floor, all surrounded by glowing, fuming spatter cones. The higher lava level has also improved viewing, with the activity coming into view from the east at Kūpinaʻi Pali (also known as Waldron Ledge), accessible from the main Visitor Center. This expands upon the previously established views from the south at Keanakākoʻi and from the north at Uēkahuna, helping spread out the growing number of visitors. The volcano continues to vent its usual gases and produce vog with particulates, which remains the primary hazard to people for this eruption. Unfortunately for south and west Hawaiʻi residents, emissions have also remained fairly steady in the range of 1000-2000 tons per day of SO2, however there is still no increased threat of lava flows outside of the National Park. As the one-year milestone of this latest eruptive chapter approaches, Kīlauea’s pattern seems well-established with few surprises, yet its steady filling of the crater continues to dramatically change the landscape. (USGS images of Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake at Kīlauea’s summit in September 2022.) -- Join our special live video review of Kīlauea’s ongoing eruption at 5pm Hawaiʻi time weekly on Thursdays! To support our productions please like, share and subscribe! This content has been funded by the Hawaiʻi County Waiwai Grant-In-Aid in association with Malama O Puna and by contributions from viewers like you! To donate, visit Mahalo! #Kilauea2022 #KilaueaErupts

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