Hawaii volcano eruption: Kilauea calming down – but it’s ‘too soon’ for firm conclusions
SCIENTISTS monitoring Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano have reported reduction in the amount of lava spewing from fissure 8, raising hopes that the eruptive activity which has blighted the lives of Big Islanders over the last three months may finally be drawing to a close.
However, Hawaii Volcano Observatory experts have warned it is too soon to draw any firm conclusions.
Kilauea has been pumping out vast amounts of lava and noxious gases since May 3, and more than 700 homes have been destroyed as a result.
But an HVO spokesman said: “This morning's helicopter overflight confirmed a significant reduction in lava output from fissure 8.
“HVO field geologists observed low levels of fountaining with the fissure 8 spatter cone and largely crusted lava in the spillway and channel system downstream.
“There were a few sluggish seeps and ooze-outs near Halekamahina and Kapoho Crater.
“Lava continues to ooze into the ocean along a broad flow front and laterally toward Pohoiki but is still about 70 m (230 ft) southeast of the boat ramp.
“The significance of this change is not yet clear and hazardous conditions remain in the area. HVO field crews and the UAS team will monitor activity throughout the day.
“It is common for eruptions to wax and wane or pause completely.
“A return to high levels of lava discharge or new outbreaks in the area of active fissures could occur at any time.”
In addition, activity at the volcano’s summit remains relatively quiet, in contrast to the pattern of seismicity and deformation over the last few months.
The most recent collapse event happened on Thursday (August 2), at which point the rate of earthquakes became to increase, but by yesterday they slowed down again.
The spokesman added: “Summit and Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) changes considered together imply that the rate of magma leaving the summit to feed the Lower East Rift Zone eruption has decreased.
“How long this condition will persist is unknown.
“It is possible that outflow will pick up again, resulting in renewed summit area deflation leading to another collapse event and renewed eruption vigor on the LERZ.
“HVO will continue to monitor Kīlauea closely for any signs of change in activity.”
Tina Neal, the scientist-in-charge at HVO, added: “It could be weeks or months before we feel comfortable calling the eruption and the summit collapse over.
"Maybe we had a slowdown of supply from the deep source or maybe we've developed a blockage somewhere. We've got to see this play out over the days and possible weeks ahead."
David Rothery, Professor of Planetary Geosciences at the Open University, who visited Big Island and saw Kilauea for himself in May, told Express.co.uk he agreed with the HVO’s assessment.
He added: “It could be the beginning of the end, or (less likely) it could be the end of the beginning.”
If Kilauea is calming down, it will come as a boost to residents of Big Island, particularly the Puna region in the south eastern corner, as they prepare for the possible arrival of Hurricane Hector, which could make landfall in the next few days.
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