KILAUEA VOLCANO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just when Kilauea's eruption seemed to be quieting down, new lava has covered the floor of the crater within the fissure 8 cone.
On Monday, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists confirmed that "weakly active lava" continues to fill the deep crater but no lava is extending outside the walls of the cone.
"It's very hard to say what it means because eruptions don't typically just end like flipping a switch. They often kind of sputter to a conclusion, but when we see incandescent lava within an active vent like the fissure 8 cone, we would be very reluctant to declare that eruption completely over," HVO geologist Janet Babb said.
The activity comes after several days of no incandescence being seen at fissure no. 8, and weeks after officials announced the eruptions that started May 3 and destroyed more than 700 homes appeared to have "paused."
The changes at fissure no. 8 are minimal, but could indicate that the eruptive event is far from over.
"It's not really clear whether this is the start of something new or not because we haven't seen any gases to indicate fresh lava coming out of fissure 8 right now," said geologist Philip Ong.
Meanwhile, scientists say there are no visible fumes coming from the fissure, and sulfur dioxide levels remain as low as they were in 2007.
HVO officials say even though everything is pretty quiet as far as seismicity and deformation, the magma already within the lower east rift zone could continue to feed the small breakouts within the cone.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park's goal is to reopen limited areas of the park by September 22 as long as there are no major earthquakes or collapse-explosion events at the summit.
"We're just waiting to see how this plays out, knowing that it could take a couple months for it to fully wind down, and bracing for the fact that it may not actually be over," said Ong.