Lava lake level drops


The lava lake at Halema‘uma‘u dropped over the weekend, retreating from its record high and disappointing, for now, volcano-watchers who hope to see molten lava on the crater floor for the first time in 30 years.

After reaching an all-time high of just 89 feet below the floor of the crater, Kilauea’s summit began deflating Friday afternoon.

A deflationary event results when, for reasons not fully understood, the amount of magma entering the volcano’s summit reservoir decreases relative to the amount of magma leaving the reservoir.

Such an event can happen as a result of a decrease or a constriction in the flow of magma to the lava lake at Halema‘uma‘u.

The initial deflation ended Saturday morning and Kilauea began inflating again, but a second deflationary event took place Sunday and Monday, erasing those gains. Inflation at the summit resumed Monday morning.

As a result of the largest deflationary event since late August, the lake level dropped, but the trend in recent months favors the continued rise in the level of the lava lake.

Most of the hardened lava covering the floor of Halema‘uma‘u dates from an eruption in 1974, although there are places near the northeast rim where lava erupted in 1975 and 1982.

Geologists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory are also monitoring an uptick in the number of small, shallow earthquakes in the summit crater and within the upper east rift zone.

The glow from Halema‘uma‘u at night remains visible from the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum overlook within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

 

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