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Late Morning Kīlauea Eruption Update, Dec 27 - Lava Lake Level Is Steady

9:43 PM · Dec 27, 2020

Latest USGS thermal map of Kīlauea and the Halema'uma'u Crater lava lake, Sunday’s eruption images, and continued decrease in SO2 emissions. Two maps released by USGS. Measurements taken this morning by USGS shows very little change in the depth of the lava lake in the last 24 hours. The depth of the lake is now at 581 feet deep. The western eruptive vent has reduced activity from yesterday, coinciding with another large cut in volcanic emissions, dropping from ~40,000 tonnes per day at the height of the eruption, down to ~20,000 tonnes on Christmas night, and dropping further to 5,000 tonnes per day recorded last night. The previous predominant northern fissure on the crater wall of Halema’uma’u remains inactive this morning. No seismic or deformation indication of activity moving towards the rift zones currently. Images and captions from USGS (captions in the order image appear): - Image 1: A helicopter overflight yesterday (Dec. 26, 2020) at approximately 9:30 AM HST allowed for aerial visual and thermal imagery to be collected of the new eruption within Halema'uma'u crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. This preliminary thermal map shows that the new lava lake is 790 m (864 yd) E-W axis and 520 m (569 yd) in N-S axis. The most recent estimate of lake area is about 29 hectares (72 acres). The scale of the thermal map ranges from blue to red, with blue colors indicative of cooler temperatures and red colors indicative of warmer temperatures. A new observation of the lava lake yesterday is visible in this thermal image as a blue ring at the intersection of the lava lake and surrounding crater wall, indicating cooler temperatures around the perimeter of the lake. The lake was surrounded by a narrow (extending out 10-30 m or 11-22 yd) ledge that is cooler than the rest of the lake. This suggests that the lake level had recently dropped slightly. The ledge was perhaps 1-2 m (1-2 yd) above the fluid lake level. USGS map by M. Patrick. - Image 2: Kīlauea summit KW webcam image taken on December 27, 2020, just after 6:30 a.m. HST. The eruption in Halemaʻumaʻu continues and this photo shows that activity remains focused at the west vent as of Dec. 27 morning. You can view live KW webcam images here. USGS photo. - Image 3: HVO field crews were unable to observe early morning eruption activity in Halema‘uma‘u crater at Kīlauea's summit due to high winds. Upon return to the eruption site this morning, HVO field crews noted the reduced vigor at the western vent. The northern/eastern vent remains inactive. At approximately 7:30 a.m. HST today (Dec. 27), HVO field crews measured the lava lake as 177 m (581 ft) deep. The lava lake level has not changed significantly over the past 24 hours. USGS photo by M. Patrick - Image 4: This map of Halema‘uma‘u at Kīlauea's summit shows 20 m (66 ft) contour lines (black) that mark locations of equal elevation above sea level (asl). The map shows that the lava lake (approximate outline marked in red) has filled 177 m (580 ft) of Halema‘uma‘u since the eruption began at approximately 9:30 p.m. HST on December 20, 2020 (nearly one week ago). The lava lake has about 100 m (328 ft) more to rise before it overflows Halema‘uma‘u crater rim on the lowest part at the northeast edge (green line). The lava lake has about 200 m (656 ft) more to rise before it overflows onto the west portion of the down-dropped block that formed in 2018 (blue line). For reference, the bottom of Halema‘uma‘u before this eruption was 517 m (1696 ft) asl. Initially, the lava lake was rising several tens of meters (yards) per day; however, the lava lake level has not risen significantly over the past day. USGS map.


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