New Lava flow at Pu'u 'O'o crater - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

New Lava flow at Pu'u 'O'o crater

VOLCANO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dramatic activity is happening at Kilauea, as a massive lava pond has overflowed its banks. On Wednesday, just minutes after the Puu Oo Crater floor started deflating, lava broke out, at the base of the west flank of the cone.

It happened about 2:20 p.m., and within an hour, the crater floor and lava lake collapsed. Now there are two new flows, advancing down slope quickly. The events weren't entirely unexpected, however, since scientists have been keeping an eye on the crater for quite some time. Janet Babb, a scientist at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park says that over the past month, the crater floor has risen quickly. "We felt that that was leading to some kind of change. As the crater floor collapsed, so did the lava lake that was within Puu Oo crater. The lava lake that was within the PuuOo crater is no longer there."

A pilot, who shot the video you can click on, on this page, James Cavaco, explained the sight, "It was filled all the way up to the top with lava, but today you'll see it's all collapsed in and hollow inside. Big difference from yesterday. Had a huge cave in and the sides of the walls just caved in. Just tons of lava, rivers of lava."

The lava flow poses no hazards to residents, but the park has closed the Chain of Craters Road until further notice. The eruption comes just months after the Kamoamoa fissure, that erupted in March. That was less than half a mile from the Puu Oo collapse.

Scientists will continue to monitor the lava flow over the next several weeks. For all the updates, head to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory's website at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/activity/kilaueastatus.php.

For more information about access and road closures, park visitors should call 808-985-6011.

Copyright Hawaii News Now 2011. All rights reserved.

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