New Gas Vent Breaks in Halemaumau Crater

KILAUEA (KHNL) -- A new gas vent broke through the lower east wall of Halemaumau this week, doubling the sulfur dioxide gas being emitted from the crater.

A typical rate at which sulfur dioxide is released by Kilauea volcano has been 150-200 tonnes/day.  The emission rate increased to nearly 300 tonnes/day in late December 2007.  By mid-February 2008, it fluctuated between 600 and 1000 tonnes/day.

On March 12, the rate jumped to 1,500 tonnes/day.  The following day, sulfur dioxide emission rates reached the highest record at Kilauea's summit at 2,000 tonnes/day.

The U.S. Geological Survey says release of sulfur dioxide gas from Kilauea volcano is not new but the current emission rates are unusual.

Officals say a summit eruption is not expected because other harbingers of summit activity have not occurred.

Photos courtesy of Suzy Field