The Kilauea 2020 eruption – reading tea leaves

The cameras that gave us the first images of the eruption


This is a strange end to a strange year. Kilauea erupting without even HVO noticing it until the lava was flowing, Etna exploding into life, and even New Zealand trying to get in on the action. And we were complaining that nothing was happening and we had to live off the glories of Christmas past and Christmas yet to come, with Christmas present nothing to look forward to. How wrong we were. Of course, in hindsight 2020 will be one for the history books: the year the world went mad. The expression ‘2020 vision’ will never mean the same after this.

Yesterday was the solstice, the Great Conjunction (800 years in the making: I managed to see it in a clear moment a day before), and a meteor swarm (none appeared trough the thick cloud): what more could one wish for as a portent of things to come? And indeed, the UK went into complete isolation with all border crossing closed, and even internal travel forbidden, with a new virus mutation being used as an excuse to do what should have been done weeks ago. (It is interesting that travel is forbidden but U-turns are still allowed.) We can now prepare for Christmas in isolation, Australia-style. (For non-UK readers, the term ‘Australia style’ is used here as a euphemism for not having something. An ‘Australia style trade deal’ means no trade deal. Abuse of language also is 2020 vision, in which reality has been replaced by advertisement slogans.)

In this darkness, out came Kilauea doing what it should have been doing weeks ago (December 2, to be precise. It had started in September when GPS measurements began to show inflation, and this became sustained over the next months. The inflation was centred underneath Halemau’au.

CRIM GPS, close to the centre of inflation

What caused this? There are three options: Deeper magma may have risen closer to the surface, the magma inflow may have increased, or the outflow was reduced. The rising magma is the easiest explanation. This gives inflation close to magma and deflation further out (as no new magma is involved, the inflation and deflation have to balance). But no such deflation was seen, at least on the public GPS data. My guess is therefore one of the other two. A notable feature of the inflation is that only the upper most part of the rift zone was involved with some earthquake activity. Further out, there was actually but of a reduction in pressure, at least judging from the GPS’s. (I should say this is purely my opinion and I may well be proven wrong. As we used to say – speculation alert!) If there was a higher magma influx, one might expect this to affect the rift zone as well. Therefore, it seems to me that a blockage in the rift zone was at least part of the reason. Magma continued to arrive in Kilauea, as it always does, but like to English borders, it couldn’t get out. So pressure increased.

On Dec 2, we all noticed a sudden jump in the tilt measurements. This was accompanied by earthquake activity. HVO reported a dike intrusion. Interestingly, the GPS was hardly affected and continued its steady upward trend. This is a good sign that in this case, the cause was upward movement of magma. The tilt excursion was large, but it is measured in micro radians which is a very small unit. So the actual amount of magma involved was not large. This must have come very close to a surface eruption, though.

A few days ago the earthquake swarm resumed, although with nothing out of the ordinary. We commented on this on the blog. In hindsight, with magma so close to the surface already, this was all it took. At 9:30 pm HST on Dec 20 (7:30am Dec 21 in GMT) the eruption started, taking everyone by surprise. It started less than 3 hours before the solstice (which was 10:02am GMT). Inconveniently, it started on the steep slope above the new lake, directly below the web cam. The camera could see it but the view would have been so much better from the other side. The eruption was effusive from the start. Perhaps the broken-up ground from the 2018 collapse had allowed gas to escape, preventing an explosive eruption. But no gas emissions had been noticed prior to the eruption. HVO saw the danger of explosions in the lake and raised the aviation level to red. But it remained effusive and the level has now been reduced to orange. But having to go from green straight to red shows how little warning this eruption gave in the hours before the event. That also shows that the conduit was already open (and filled) before the event. No braking of rock was required.

The eruption quickly formed three eruption sites, all on the side of the lake pit. The middle one was weak and soon died, but the other two both continued. They are about 400 meters apart. The three sites were approximately along a line, typically for a fissure eruption. Normally a fissure eruption eventually focuses on one location. This may still happen here but so far it hasn’t. Where did the magma come from? One way to find out is by imagining where the shortest distance under ground would lead to these three locations, rather than somewhere else on the slope. Draw the fissure line, and extend it perpendicular to the steep slope. This brings one to the edge of the collapse area. The fissure runs parallel to this edge. My guess is therefore (speculation alert!) that the magma came up through this ring fault. This says nothing about the location of the deeper conduit! It is about the last kilometer or so of travel. Perhaps the Dec 2 dike connected to this ring fault.

eruption sites. source: HVO

The eruption site is near the centre of the old Halemau’au crater. The deeper conduit seems to have survived from before 2018. It is notable that the fissure is close to (or the same?) as that of the 1954 summit eruption, again suggestion that deeper below the collapse area, the plumbing of Kilauea has survived the events of 2018.

The lava immediately started to flow into the lake. The lake, predictably, began to boil away. The heat capacity of water is four times that of lava, however, this was fresh, hot lava and the lake was already at 70C to begin with. So it didn’t take much to boil. The boiling is very energy intensive. Lava even at temperatures over 1000 C does not have the energy to boil its own volume of water. It can only come close by solidifying, and using its own latent heat of solidification. What happened was that the lava was flowing into the lake and going to the bottom. The lake started to both boil and rise, while the lava solidified. It looks to me though that there wasn’t enough lave to boil off the entire lake, and that would have taken more volume in lava than there was in water. The steam plume contained less water than had been in the lake: part of the water may have escaped through cracks in the rock, as the water level rose. Prior to the eruption the water lake had stopped rising, and it may have reached the level where it could drain away if going any higher. We ended up with a lava lake instead of a water lake, but the bottom is filled with solidified lava. The liquid lava was much less deep than the water had been. The escaping water may also explain the lack of gas emission: water may have taken some of the SO2 with it. (Speculation alert!)

The pit has kept filling up and the lava level is now tens of meters above the original water level, albeit still below the level of the fissures.

What will happen next? The tilt is showing a typical exponential, shallowing decline. The exponential-ness shows that the pressure behind the eruption is decreasing. The eruption rate is also likely going down. Initially it may have been 100 m3/s (I would guess not much higher because of the lack of strong fountaining), at the moment I guess it is below 50 m3/s. (but I am open to be corrected on this!) The fissuring may end quite suddenly when the pressure becomes too low to keep the fissure open. It may also continue for weeks at a lower rate. In the latter case the lava lake may drown the fissure and it becomes a more typical lava lake. It seems unlikely to me that the level will go much higher yet. But this lava lake is, in my opinion, going to be a feature of Kilauea for years to come, perhaps intermittent but always prone to return.

What happens next also depends on the rift. If it remains closed, we may eventually see the return of Kilauea lava lake of Christmas past, covering much of the caldera (speculation alert). This may take a decade or more. However, the changing pressure may re-open to rift zone leading to the end of the eruption and a fast draining. It is also possible that the southwestern rift zone re-opens. It is solidly blocked after many years of quiescence (sine 1974), but the fissure lines up with this rift zone. The most recent earthquake activity has been on the starting point of this rift. It is a low likelihood, but this eruption could be a stage in re-starting eruptions in the southwest. Any map of the region will show how badly lava-covered this region is – it has potential.

From https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/hawaii-notes/vol4-2-7i.htm

The current event may be a step on the way to re-establishing the Kilauea from before the never-ending Pu’u’O’o eruption. The eastern rift zone will erupt again. But it may not be as dominant as before. The summit has returned, and will show who is the boss. After all, you don’t get to be the summit if you let the rift do all the work.

And here ends my reading of the tea leaves. It is all speculation. But these safe eruptions are quite fun.

Albert, 22 Dec 2020

71 thoughts on “The Kilauea 2020 eruption – reading tea leaves

  1. Very fluid and smooth lava .. really a boiling gas mess that flows down into the filling lava lake.. the temperature is above 1200 C

    Sulfur emissions remains low
    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/chem/surface/level/overlay=so2smass/orthographic=-156.13,19.89,12626

    There is very little sO2 output and perhaps its a sign its not anything significant. Kilauea is normaly an enormous sO2 producer during activity
    This is because the deep magma system is not exposed as an open vent lava lake

  2. I think the floating pumice raft is the solid lava from evaporating the lake, in the webcams it did rise right out of the exact spot and is of similar size. I dont think theres only a thin liquid layer with solid lava beneath its pretty much all liquid from what I can tell.

    I think even months ago I suggested the idea of the next eruption taking HVO by surprise, it also shows really that probably every other instance of enhanced quakes (march and december) was probably very nearly an eruption. As for SO2, the sensors were calibrated to the low energy plume of the overlook lake, this eruption is mostly through a vent that is fountaining, its not a tall fountain but it is very vigorous and probably producing a powerful local updraft which is taking gas away from the sensor. If it is 50 m/s then SO2 is going to be maybe 10x higher than during the Pu’u O’o days. The live SO2 is not the most useful tool for an eruption that is probably not going to last years, its like the GPS it updates daily.

  3. A recent thermal image of the lake, the level is rising very slowly now but if the eruption keeps going strong for a few days it will probably end up drowning the main vent. The pumice raft is slowly shrinking from the left, the other smaller floating fragments have almost vanished already, it does seem that they were leftovers from lake’s evaporation and now they are melting or sinking.

  4. USGS reports the lake is 134 meters deep but is rising at only around a meter/hour.

      • HVO has published preliminary numbers. They estimate that so far 10 million cubic meter has been erupted. This is an average rate of 75 m3/s since the start of the eruption.

    • The USGS report states that the lava lake is close to 500 meters below the rim. At this rate it won’t go anywhere near that. Perhaps another 100 meters may be possible if it lasts long enough.

  5. The lava lake is growing… clear flow channels are visible in the crust… where its thin and movable…
    Some crust areas are stable like around the raft… if this photo… becomes correct

    Image removed as duplicate posted in a later comment – admin

    • The visocisty been very low… perhaps 20 PA,S the large size makes it look like molten metal
      some halemaumau magmas are so fluid that they go well below 10 PA.S

      • That is just the glow, at night the plume is lit up and it looks much bigger. The thermal is largely unchanged, I think USGS has said the main fountain is 25 meters high, but they have also at other times said it was 15 and 50 meters high. Whatever one of those it is the height has been pretty constant since the beginning except maybe the very start when it was probably quite high for a few minutes.

          • I think a lot of coverage forget that there is a vent which is under the lake, that can mean when the main vent is flooded that a proper circulating lava lake can form, and a massive one at that the two vents are 500 meters apart.

            The alternative is a situation like 1959 wit ha big lava geyser. I would like to see some 500 meter fountains, or 1 km fountains… Maybe next eruption 🙂

  6. The tephra raft is now melting in the lava lake

    Image removed. Jesper, please don’t link multiple instances of the same live image. It will show as the same image. If the image is important, create a copy and link to that. – admin

  7. SO2 emissions are very high. From the HVO: ” Summit tiltmeters continued to record slowing deflationary tilt through this morning. Sulfur dioxide emission rates remain high estimated at around 30,000 tonnes/day. Seismicity is elevated but stable the last day, with few earthquakes and tremor fluctuations related to the vigor of fissure fountaining. “

      • Its about 1/10 of what fissure 8 was doing, consistent with the eruption rate estimates being about 1/10 of fissure 8 eruption rate.

  8. Interferogram 6-21 December. Seems like there is deflation in the 2-2.5 km shallow storage of Kilauea, looks like the body of magma that collapsed towards the end of the 2018 eruption (the down-sagged area east of the crater) is still there, so it only half-collapsed. There is strong inflation inside the crater, probably from the intrusion feeding the current eruption.

    • The interesting thing is the way that the 2018 eruption ended. It went out very abruptly. We were just anticipating the next M5 collapse event when it suddenly just shut down. Compare with Holuhraun where the subsidence followed a parabola all the way to the end where it simply waned and stopped as it ran out of juice (reached equilibrium). This makes me suspect that the reason the 2018 eruption stopped was because the conduit towards the east rift was blocked. That is also consistent with the magma body still being there (but also a big speculation alert).

      • About the comparison to Holuhraun, i do wonder if the differences were in how the eruptions began. Bardarbunga never erupted before Holuhraun, all of the activity was along that dike and that was it. Kilauea in 2018 was already erupting, and at two places simultaneously nonetheless. Kilauea also has magma chambers within its east rift that can act as barriers to downrift dikes, they seem to be located under areas that have shields and pit craters which is probably not surprising, 2018 likely was just a point when they all had enough pressure that there was no other option but that pressure might not have been high enough to allow the summit to fully collapse before the rift was able to close again. Just a theory though.

        • One big difference is the depth of the magma body. The magma source under Bárdarbunga was somewhere between a depth of 10-15km, while the one under Kilauea is only 2-2.5km. That’s a large difference in lithostatic pressure that probably makes the pressure difference caused by a collapse event more significant in the case of Kilauea. The pressure must have been at its lowest right before a collapse event, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that it stopped right at such a point in time, just before the next collapse was supposed to happen. For Bárdarbunga the pressure stayed high enough to sustain the eruption with or without the collapse events and with Holuhraun we didn’t see the same obvious surges related to the collapse events as we did at Kilauea fissure 8.

          • Well to confuse things I found watching a livestream yesterday that fissure 8 was also by far the higher effusion rate of the two, its peak rate during surges was nearly 2000 m3/s while I have not seen anything over 500 m3/s for Holuhraun beside its initial fissure stage that does also appear to have been very high for fissure 8 at the end of May. The figure for fissure 8 is the bulk effusion rate so above the DRE rate but during surges that still exceeded 1000 m3/s and it did that consistently. So despite fissure 8 being small enough to fit within the massive crater of Baugur it was erupting way more lava…

            Basically fissure 8 was always at a higher pressure, the two eruptions seem similar but perhaps they were actually more different than we think. It makes the fact Kilauea has refilled in under 3 years from such an event all the more remarkable.

          • Kilauea has not refilled yet. The lava lake is still 500 meters below the level it had before April 2018. It is rising and we will see how high it gets. The GPS altitude has hardly recovered at all and remains more than 1.5 meters below its value prior to the 2018 eruption. Assuming that the summit lost 1.2 km3 during the leilani eruption, it has recovered little more than 0.1 km3 so far.

          • I mean refilled to the point where it is pressurised. That was always going to be at a lower point than 2018 because most of the collapse was taken up by the caldera forming. Fissure 8 did erupt more than the caldera, most of the difference was from the east rift, which in most stations has returned to pre-eruption levels. There is a bif offset on ERZ sites but that is the big quake, which is tectonic and a permanent offset.
            The rifts did fill up first, probably there has been at least 0.2 km3 to fill that space possibly 0.4 if you use the high volume estimates for 2018, then a bit more at the summit like you calculated. That is about the same rate, a bit more perhaps, as the supply of Pu’u O’o.

            In effect Kilauea actually is filled up, the rest of the filling now will have to be in actual eruptions to fill the caldera.

          • The rift had some resupply but not that much, I think. The channel is much less open than it was in the days of Pu’u’O’o. A typical rift eruption is not large. That suggest that the typical rift inflow rate is not high either: perhaps 0.01 km3/yr. Pu’u’O’o was an exceptional phase. As to the pressure, the fact that the lava fountains did not even reached 400 meter below the surface suggests that it is still low. Kilauea has a long way to go before it has fully recovered. I am curious how high the lava lake will reach.

          • The inflation of the rift has been very large following the 2018 eruption, inflation at the Middle East Rift Zone has taken place over an area much wider than at the summit and reaches 40-50 cm up from Pu’u’o’o to JOKA, the area affected is comparable to that of a large caldera so it is quite spectacular, more magma has ended up in the rift than the summit, probably.

            Movement of the south flank is also almost twice as fast as before 2018, currently at 10 cm/year. Increase in pressure combined with the deep spreading is a recipe that points to more east rift activity in the future.

            East Rift activity is variable over time and I think the trend of increasing rift activity since the late 19th century will keep going. For example from 1790 to ~1880 there was but a single event in the East Rift (the 1840 eruption) and when measurements started to be taken in the early 20th century the south flank was barely moving, at 2 cm/year if I recall right, although by then east rift intrusions were already becoming frequent… Things have changed a lot, volcanoes are certainly not immutable.

          • That is an interesting point. My argument against is that it includes the relaxation after the major earthquake. JOKA went down by 50 cm during the eruption. 25 cm of that was caused by the earthquake (recognizable because of the associated horizontal motion). There was a fast recovery of 15 cm after the eruption which I think was relaxation. there has been an additional 25 cm of inflation, some of which will be magmatic. The situation is very similar along most of the rift zone. There has been very little change there over the past 6 to 9 months, which also points at relaxation as being significant.

          • As a general counter argument, there has actually been no indicator that the supply rate has decreased at all, the hotspot has a steady rate of about 0.21km3/year, recently that has basically all been going to Kilauea, and following 2018 Mauna Loa (the only other plausible outlet) has done nothing of note. Officially the caldera created in 2018 is 0.8 km3, while the erupted volume is 1.1 km3, which I could confirm is the DRE value, so there is theoretically 0.3 km3 difference. That is right around what 2.5 years of supply is, and now we have an eruption again 2.5 years after fissure 8 stopped 🙂

            I dont know what the obvious signs of a low supply would be, but in 1843 Mauna Loa erupted 2.5 years after a major Kilauea eruption and after possibly decades of sleep to begin high activity over the next few decades. Something like that if measured today probably would have been obvious in the tilt months or years ago, but Mauna Loa has not changed at all from its behavior of recent decades.

            There is also the fact HVO has said the rift was inflating, which they would only say for a magmatic signal.

  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BRnGikv2VQ

    I found this video that is of the 1961 eruption, the 3rd of 4 eruptions that year and the most voluminous at 12 million m3 of lava in a week. It is interesting the similarities, vents at different altitude but the one that is highest is the most powerful with a lava fountain. Also being the first proper eruption following a big draining eruption in Puna.

    The eruption right now has reached that same volume as this eruption did in only in 2 days… 🙂

  10. The lava lake is rising very quickly and will soon flood the vent.. the Big tefra pile keeps floating. What will happen the when the lava drowns the main vent?
    The lake have risen quite alot this night
    This is a very voluminous eruption for being after a Holuhraun sized drainout.
    Kilauea haves a massive supply

    • The floating raft has been moving towards the lava cascade. The little island on top of the large one is also moving with it so they must be connected under the lake. At this rate the submerged part of the floating island will soon crash against the wall where the lava cascade is, I wonder what will happen.

    • The raft is tilted northward (towards the cascade) as much as half of it seems submerged below the lava level, changes in the raft’s elevation often drown parts of it which then re-emerge again.

    • The raft must have that size under the lava at least, judging from the thermal images

  11. The lava lake is now wide and massive enough to form a huge heat convective mass of air. There is a very large low cumulus cloud over the lake .. lots of hot air.

  12. From looking at the infrared camera view over the last hour or so, it looks like the main vent is starting to flood. The heat intensity in that spot has gone down a fair bit, probably indicating that lava is being supplied directly to the lake, under the (slightly) cooler surface lava.

      • Yes when the gas plume is blown towards the webcam it obscures the heat, its pretty much just a normal cloud temperature. It is very close to flooding the vent though.

    • Mauna Loa is on yellow alert because it is at an elevated level of activity against its historical average. Kilauea was for the entire time since 2018 much more obviously active than Mauna Loa and HVO knew that, but because it had just drained out it was not expected to do anything for a long time, a lot longer than a typical eruption interval, which we now know is obviously not the case.

      It was a big surprise for HVO that it erupted the other day, in fact basically none of the things that were expected as precursors actually happened, no SO2, a few quakes, no weird temperatures, 4 days later theres a lava lake 160 meters deep…

    • Not to mention that it is Hawaiian. According to a friend of mine, when trying to pronounce Hawaiian names, every single letter gets pronounced. (And never ever call Ed a Samoan. He will thump you)

  13. As the lake grows ever larger I have been thinking quite a lot about the 1823 eruption. I wonder if before the lava drained out of the southwest rift there was a summit eruption like this, which after a certain point had filled in so deep that the pressure opened a crack in the southwest rift. Possibly the initial stage was one of the massive high fountains that made the Golden Pumice deposit, I read a paper once that such distal tephra is usually about 2% of the volume of actual lava, seen well in 1959. For the much larger Golden Pumice the volume of lava was probably very substantial, possibly up to 0.5 km3 in volume, even half of that is over 10x the volume of todays lake and a more realistic number, must have been an incredible sight.

    I guess there is a chance to prove that theory, maybe next year some point… 🙂

      • This is probably close, but there is no record of anything older than 500 years and a few other fountains are similar 1 km height. Quite a lot probably also have had 500 meter fountains, of course 1959-1960, 1969, 1983-1986, but probably also some prehistoric eruptions. Pu’u Kaliu in particular looks to have been a massive fountain, like the 1960 fountain with the volume and colossal effusion rate of fissure 8 🙂

        • Those were not effusive eruptions, so I dont consider them to be lava fountains though at night it would have been visually very similar. Kilauea has probably also had eruptions as big as the Ticuantepe eruptions somewhere in its history, VEI 4-5 explosive basaltic eruptions.

    • The 1790 caldera did probably fill mostly with rootless lava lakes, shield volcanoes in general tend to fill their calderas with them. And another huge rootless lake formed within the 1823 collapse immediately after, an even bigger one in 1830 flooded the whole Great Crater (possibly 2×3 km across). They don’t last long though, the moment eruption rate drops they crust over thickly enough to walk over them, while usually some small portions do remain molten longer. The interior does remain molten for as long as decades, hidden below a thick crust.

    • The most recent published volume for the golden pumice eruption is Biass et al 2018, who calculate an upper limit of 1.0 10^7 m3 of tephra, or 0.01 km3, with other numbers 2-3 times smaller. It was VEI 2. It erupted in a very different environment with the magma deeper than it is today, well below the water table. The 1823 lava flow is itself reported as not particularly thick and its volume seems much less than 0.1 km3. There may have been more inside the caldera, of course. But I would not advocate using a multiplication factor of 50 as ‘probably’ of ‘more realistic’. Without data, it remains guess work.

      • That is just the tephra deposit, its about 5x bigger than 1959 so going on that the total is possibly an eruption of 0.24 km3 of lava. That doesnt mean that much lava stayed on the surface though, 1959 cumulatively erupted about 70 million m3 of lava but only half of that actually stayed above ground the rest drained back.

        There were at least 12 eruptions like the Golden Pumice between 1790 and 1823, the last ones maybe after 1823, so that can add to a lot of lava, probably making deep rootless lakes as Hector says. There were lots of effusive eruptions to the southwest in that time too, which like Mauna Iki would have needed the caldera filled up, most seem to be at around 700 meters elevation so maybe the caldera floor was a bit higher, 800 meters, which is about as high as the edge of the deep pit at Halemaumau now. It drained in 1823 because an earthquake happened, so there was probably an ERZ intrusion as well as lava flowing from the end of the quake fault to give a big drain, like 1868. I think the 1823 eruption was probably pretty big, more than 0.1 km3 but thats sort of a different subject.

        Speaking of 1959, today the lava lake has reached above the vent and it doesnt look to have stopped yet.

        • That’s right, the caldera floor was around 830 meters high at the time of the Keaiwa 1823 eruption, and the collapse was around 0.2 km³.

          • I wonder then, because this pit is rather a lot smaller than the pit that had to be filled before 1823, it will probably take not very long at all to fill up to that similar level today. On the Hawaii Tracker livestreams they were even able to predict at the current rate it would fill to the edge of the deep part of Halemaumau (at about 800 meters elevation) in the first week of January if the rate doesnt change, which is rather incredible, only a bit over a week away. I dont think it will do that, it will slow down no doubt and probably already has, but if it is theoretically that close I think it is likely the deep pit will be filled in by this time next year, either by new eruptions or by a slow rise of this one fed at base supply rates, either gets about the same result.

            I did also roughly estimate the combined area of the Kamakaia and Kealaalea flows to be about 30 km2, which for a pahoehoe field is quite large, and because none of the flows reached the ocean it is unlikely the eruption rate was so high as at Pu’u O’o, probably only about 1 m3/s or even less. Based on similar recent flows the volume in total is probably about 0.2 km3, so these eruptions lasted a long time, 12 years total at 0.5 m3/s for that volume. Obviously there was a gap between them as different dikes were involved but it looks like for most of the entire time between the first filling and 1823 lava was just leaking out of the ground in Kau fed by high lava level at the summit. I think something like that is quite a plausible scenario beginning in the next few years, which is good as the eruptions are gentle and the area is close to the main highway so very accessible 🙂

          • I think the ERZ will snap sooner than the magma column reaches the pit edge. Rift eruptions have happened at times when there were surtseyan eruptions at the summit, the magma column must have been 600-700 meters high, I doubt any more than that (before the 1650 and 1790 eruptions for example).

          • This isnt surtseyan activity though, it is just a typical (maybe slightly above average) effusive summit eruption, and it is already at that elevation according to HVO. There is no rift activity at all now, and unlike in 2018 Pu’u O’o isnt responding in any way to the summit anymore, so while it is recent there is seemingly no complete open conduit, or if there is it is not shallow anywhere so the first eruption was at the summit.

            It will likely take until that pit is filled in all the way and possibly overflowing to break out on the east rift again. That might still be in the near future though as a few years of base supply will make short work of the caldera without a lateral drain. It has all gone so fast it is easy to forget this eruption began only 4 days ago, after 400 days who knows how radical the change will be.

  14. HVO has reported that the lava lake is getting deeper at a rate of 0.5 meter per hour. That gives an eruption rate of 35 m3/sec. It is slowing down a bit.

    • That coud be a good sign: if it slows down its easier for the chamber system to supply the eruption. If it slows down to just 5 cubic meters a second.. it coud be erupting at input level and ”last forever” thats was Puu Oo s chase.

      The lake is so thick / deep now that the interior wont solidify for decades even if the eruption stops.. now

      But it will likley drain itself dry.
      But eruptions will resume quickly .. with the gigantic yearly supply that Kilauea have

      • Yes, lava lakes often drain down. But in this case the opening is at the top, not the bottom. The lava that has collected so far will only drain if a new opening forms at the bottom.

        • There is a drowned vent though, on the old ledge, its probably about 80 meters deep under the surface now.

          • True, and that may become important. I guess the entire fissure can act as a drain. It does not go to the bottom but is closer than the two active vents.

    • Woud be fun to stand on the tephra pile thats floating around .. sourrounded by shiney hot grey

      The New lava in halemaumau is so fluid it looks like liquid aluminium

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