Lava lake reaches record level at Kilauea

RAW: Lava lake reaches record level at Halemaumau
Published: Oct. 24, 2012 at 2:28 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 25, 2012 at 1:54 AM HST
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Courtesy: U.S. Geological Survey
Courtesy: U.S. Geological Survey

VOLCANO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kilauea is putting on quite a show.  The Pu'u O'o Crater has been erupting since 1983. Now lava is reaching record levels for this eruption at the Halema'uma'u Crater and scientists are closely watching lava as it could spill out on to the crater floor any day.

Kilauea is actually erupting at two craters right now.  The hope is you'll be able to see lava right from observation deck at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The images are simply breathtaking.  The USGS has captured plenty of pictures of the lava rising in the Halema'uma'u Crater on Kilauea.  The most recent level is only 100 feet from spilling over.  Once it gets to just 60 feet visitors will be able to see the lava from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Jaggar Museum Overlook.

"In modern history the fact that we may be able to see lava if it breeches the surface here will be an exciting time," said Jessica Ferracane, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Public Affairs.

Lava has spilled onto the crater floor in 1974 and 1982 but Ferracane says those cases weren't like this.

"Both of those eruptions were different from what we have now. What we have now is the lava lake rising up and those were eruptions that happened along the sides of the crater," said Ferracane.

Kilauea is also producing plenty of booming noises along with the splattering lava.  It's the sound of the Earth moving and melting.

"The rising level in Halema'uma'u does have some important implications. It means the whole magmatic system at Kilauea is pressurizing," said Matt Patrick, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Geologist.

In the past that pressure has created new vents meaning lava reached the surface through a new hole and thus a new lava path.

"It doesn't show any sign of stopping but it's too soon to tell, it could be terminated at any point here," said Patrick.

Scientists will keep watching and so will visitors.

"One thing visitors don't realize is this park is open 24 hours a day so that's pretty neat. If people have jet lag, they're from the east coast and wide awake at 3:00 am why not come out," said Ferracane.

If you do you might catch a show people dream of seeing.

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