Sunday, January 17, 2010

Code Purple at the HVM Park ~ Lava erupting at Pu`u O`o downrift fissures

Gates to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Kilauea Volcano entrance were locked early this morning due to very high sulfur dioxide emissions reaching hazardous levels of over 5.0 ppm SO2 levels within the park and beyond. Hawaii Civil Defense announced warnings about this over the radio as well.
The air in the park has since cleared somewhat and may be open now.

Park staff contributed this photo of a vogged-out Halema’uma’u at dawn this morning:

USGS Hawaiian Observatory Update: Lava from the TEB vent flowed through the upper tube system and fed at least two surface flows but was apparently not getting beyond that to the pali and coastal plain. MODIS images recorded prominent thermal anomalies centered at the 520 m (1,700 ft) elevation yesterday afternoon. CD officials reported glow above the pali yesterday evening but no activity below. Webcams picked up at least two surface flows emerging from the tube above the top of the pali overnight. GOES-WEST imagery recorded a strong thermal anomaly through dawn.

So it seems there are continued surface flows at the Pu`u O`o eruption site but this lava is far from any accessible viewpoints at this time. In the past year this eruption site has ceased then resumed flowing from this location and has reentered the established lava tubes that carry the lava to the ocean. But with this cessation period the lava has stopped flowing through these tubes for over a week now; it is possible they have become blocked. These new surface flows are, at present, being driven by a higher than normal pressure and could possibly bypass the lower section of the old tubes and come over the top of the pali and down the mountain towards the sea at a more rapid rate than we have seen since the start of this Waikupanaha entry began in February-March 2008. It would be an exciting show to witness again if it does that!… Meanwhile we have to sit back and wait to see what Pele decides to do.

Here is how those rivers looked last year:

The deformation graphs continue show a strong overall magma pressure that has leveled off and deflated a little overnight:

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