Kīlauea Volcano UpdateAugust 10th, 2018
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Is Kīlauea Volcano’s summit and rift zone activity pau (over) or paused (taking a break)?
Here’s the situation as of August 9:
At Kīlauea’s summit, earthquake counts—which were 30–40 per hour in prior weeks—have decreased to as few as 1–2 per hour. A collapse event has not occurred since August 2, and no significant subsidence has been evident since August 4.
On the volcano’s lower East Rift Zone, the eruption of lava and emission of sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) have decreased dramatically. Only a small pond of crusted lava remains deep within the fissure 8 cone and the lava channel is mostly empty. The ocean entry is minimally active, with small streams of lava oozing into the ocean, mostly near Isaac Hale Beach Park, and the laze plume is diminished.
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Why the LERZ eruption and summit subsidence abated so quickly is not certain, but one possibility is that it could be a response to reduced magma supply to the LERZ as the summit reservoir progressively emptied. It might also reflect a blockage within the magma system between the summit and the LERZ; however, the lack of seismicity and deformation, which generally indicate pressurization associated with a blockage, suggest that this is perhaps unlikely. Other possibilities also exist.
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The significance of these changes is not clear. It’s possible that the slowdown is just a pause, and that an eruption on the East Rift Zone and subsidence at the summit of Kīlauea could resume. In 1955, two pauses of 5 and 16 days occurred during that 88-day-long LERZ eruption.
It’s also possible that the slowdown reflects the end of the LERZ eruption and summit subsidence. But it will take days, or possibly weeks, to determine with certainty if the activity is pau or merely paused.
Read on, in the latest edition of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s Volcano Watch, at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observ…/…/hvo_volcano_watch.html….


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