Lava ponds observed in the fissure no. 8 cinder cone - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lava ponds observed in the fissure no. 8 cinder cone

Aerial view into the cinder cone at fissure no. 8 (Image USGS) Aerial view into the cinder cone at fissure no. 8 (Image USGS)
On August 5, lava is seen bubbling in the fissure no. 8 crater. (Photo: USGS) On August 5, lava is seen bubbling in the fissure no. 8 crater. (Photo: USGS)
An overflight on Aug. 5 shows much less lava flowing from fissure 8. (Image: USGS) An overflight on Aug. 5 shows much less lava flowing from fissure 8. (Image: USGS)
BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -

During an overflight of the Saturday morning two small ponds of lava were observed in the fissure no. 8 cinder cone.

One pond is crusted over and stagnant, the other is incandescent and sluggishly convecting.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that a gas plume is still billowing up from fissure no 8, and that low-level steaming from a handful of the other inactive fissures is intermittent.

Is this a sign that the eruption that started more than three months ago in the Lower East Rift Zone is finally over?

Scientists aren't sure.

"Clearly we're in a pause or a lull, and we just have to wait and watch in the coming days and weeks ahead," said Tina Neal, Scientist-in-Charge of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The USGS says the fissure may continue to slow down, but it also might start back up.

"In 1955 there was an eruption that went on for 88 days, and it did include two shutdowns of five and 16 days, and so that's a model for what might be happening," Neal said.

It is equally unknown what may have caused the drastic decrease in activity from fissure no. 8. Scientists believe it could be a slow down in magma supply to the Kilauea summit reservoir, or maybe a blockage in the volcano's system. Either way, the USGS says the stoppage didn't come out of nowhere.

"We did see some hints that this might be coming," Neal said.

The agency says beginning in early to mid-July there were "some changes in various parameters that, now in retrospect, were early signs of the system going through a change."

At one time, Fissure no. 8 spewed lava over 18 stories high, feeding a vast lava channel that flowed to the ocean. On Sunday, a completely crusted lava channel was photographed. (Photo: USGS)

If over, this means the end to an eruption that displaced thousands of people, destroyed over 700 homes, and added over 850 acres of land to the Big Island.

Lava continues to ooze at several points along the coastline creating wispy laze plumes.

It has been over a week since the most recent collapse event at the summit.

The Middle East Rift Zone is also showing signs of life.

Puu Oo, the vent responsible for much of Kilauea's activity over the past 35 years, is expelling large amounts of gas from it's summit.

The vent collapsed and stopped erupting mere days before lava began springing up in Leilani Estates in early May, leading some to speculate that Puu Oo was done for good.

On Friday, the USGS recorded an emission rate of over 1,000 tons of sulfur dioxide per day from the vent. The agency says this the highest rate from Puu Oo in more than 10 years.

"It does mean that there is magma at a very shallow level below Puu Oo," said Janet Babb, USGS geologist.

Even with new activity at the vent, Babb says the possibility lava erupting from Puu Oo again is a long shot.

This story will be updated.

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