Lava Surfaces Out of a New Spot on Kilauea

KILAUEA, Hawaii (KHNL) - Researchers had been on the lookout for a new lava breakout point since the dramatic increase in small earthquakes since Sunday.

Scientists at Hawai'i Volcano Observatory say the small outbreak of lava surfaced nearly four miles west of Pu'u 'O'o vent and eight miles southeast of the Kilauea summit.

Hawaii Volcano experts including Jim Kauahikua arrived at the site where the lava broke through the surface around 7 am Tuesday. It was still flowing slightly then stopped.

Kauahikua says, "It was very small the fissure is 200 yards and the erupted lava was 50 feet from the fissure so pretty small 600 feet by 150 feet or so."

Steam was visible at the new location. park visitors can't get close as rangers closed the Chain of Craters road and the lava viewing area.

The scorching lava burned native trees and shot steam into the air, the latest episode in the continuing eruption of Puu O'o. Kauahikua explains, "Pu'u O'o it has almost certainly stopped erupting."

Lava will not likely be fed to Pu'u O'o for days even weeks. "Well this event shows us more about how Kilauea volcano works. This event is somewhat of a disruption of the regular flow of magma from the summit to the eruption site," adds Kauahikua

Scientists at Kilauea have a front row seat to one of the world's largest science experiments according to Kauahikua, "We can see that this is different. We measure responses, measure how long it takes to recover and that will tell us a whole lot about the mechanics of Kilauea how it works. How Pu'u O'o vent works."