SUNDAY UPDATE: Pu'u O'o Crater collapses

Published: Aug. 4, 2011 at 10:15 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 7, 2011 at 1:56 PM HST
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Source: USGS
Source: USGS
Source: USGS
Source: USGS
Source: USGS
Source: USGS
Source: USGS (Thursday Night)
Source: USGS (Thursday Night)

BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Sunday morning say small lava flows continue to flow from west flank vents of the east rift zone of Pu`u `O`o Crater.

Scientists also say the lava continued to "trickle" onto the collapsed floor of the Crater and at the summit, the lava lake surface continued to recede.

Seismicity was generally low.

Click here for the latest on the Pu`u `O`o lava event.

On Wednesday the crater floor and lava lake within Pu'u 'Ô'ô collapsed and lava flowed out of its west flank. Scientists at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory monitored a rapid deflation of the crater floor and lava lake, and by 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, the collapse began.

Scientists say the events were not entirely unexpected since they've been watching the crater floor rise over the past month. "We felt that was leading to some kind of change. As the crater floor collapsed, so did the lava lake that was within Pu'u O'o Crater," Hawaii Volcano Observatory geologist Janet Babb said. "The lava lake that was within the Pu'u O'o Crater is no longer there."

Officials at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park reopened Chain of Craters Road at 4 p.m. Thursday for evening viewing. The road had been closed for 24 hours.

Park rangers are stationed near sea level at the bottom of Chain of Craters Road, at Pu'u Huluhulu and at Jaggar Museum to inform visitors of the latest conditions and best viewing opportunities.

Visitors to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park are able to view dramatic glows from the new Pu'u 'Ô'ô eruption from several vantage points within the park, including Pu'u Huluhulu, the Jaggar Museum overlook, and from the bottom of Chain of Craters Road.

"For the more adventurous, a short mile-and-a-half round-trip hike to Pu'u Huluhulu puts you in the line of site of the vent and new lava flows off the west flank of Pu'u 'Ô'ô," said Chief Ranger Talmadge Magno. "And, weather permitting, the glow is apparent after sunset as the daylight obscures any redness. Visitors can also drive to the end of Chain of Craters Road and look up and see the glow," he said.

Click here to view a video taken Thursday.

The new lava activity did spark a wildfire on the southern end of the flow, approximately one acre in size. A six-person fire crew has contained approximately 80 percent of the wildfire.

Another fire on the north end of the flow continues to burn, and is being monitored by fire officials.

The lava flow poses no hazards to residents.

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day, conditions permitting.

Eruption Background from USGS: The eruption of Kilauea's middle east rift zone started with a fissure eruption on January 3, 1983, and has continued with few interruptions through Pu`u `O`o Crater or vents within a few kilometers to the east or west. Since late March, lava has been filling the collapsed crater within Pu`u `O`o Cone, first building a perched lava lake that, in July, evolved into a shield with the lake at its top as a result of uplift of the crater floor and lake. In early August, the crater floor again collapsed as lava burst from vents on the west flank of Pu`u `O`o cone.

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