Hawaiian Volcano Observatory update on Kilauea Volcano eruption for Monday, Dec. 28, 2020:
KILAUEA VOLCANO (VNUM #332010)
19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE
Activity Summary: Lava activity is confined to Halemaʻumaʻu with lava erupting from a vent on the northwest side of the crater. As of 10 pm yesterday (Dec. 27), the lava lake was 177 m (581 ft) deep with a narrow black ledge around it. Reduced SO2 emissions were measured yesterday morning. [Ed Note: Lava lake depth on Sunday’s report was also 581 feet deep.]
Summit Observations: Preliminary analysis of sulfur dioxide emission rates measured yesterday morning (Dec. 27) show that the rates are still about 5,500 tonnes/day–lower than the 40,000 t/d for the first three days of the eruption, but still elevated. Summit tiltmeters continued to record weak inflationary tilt. Seismicity remained elevated but stable, with steady elevated tremor and a few minor earthquakes. [Ed Note: SO2 emissions Sunday were around 5,000 tonnes per day]
East Rift Zone Observations: Geodetic monitors also indicate that the upper portion of the East Rift Zone contracted while the summit deflated. This was associated with magma withdrawal to feed the summit vents. There is no seismic or deformation data to indicate that magma is moving into either of Kīlauea’s rift zones.
Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake Observations: The west vent continued erupting lava into a lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu crater with two or three narrow channels visible this morning.
The lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu crater has changed little in the past day and was about 177 m (581 ft) deep and about 408 m (1,340 ft) below the south Halemaʻumaʻu rim as of this morning (Dec. 28). The lake volume was about 21.5 million cubic meters (28 million cubic yards or 4.9 billion gallons). The most recent thermal map (Dec. 26) provided the lake dimensions as 790 by 520 m (864 by 569 yds) for a total area of 29 ha (72 acres). The narrow (10-30 m or 11-22 yd) ledge around the lake was about 1-2 m (1-2 yds) above the active lake surface suggesting that the lake surface dropped over the past 2 days (https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/december-26-2020-k-lauea-summit-eruption-thermal-map)
Over the past day, the main island of cooler, solidified lava floating in the lava lake drifted slowly westward in the lake and measured about 225 m (740 ft) in length and 110 m (360 ft) in width based on the Dec. 26 thermal map (https://www.usgs.gov/maps/december-26-2020-k-lauea-summit-eruption-thermal-map). This morning, the island began drifting back to the east. Measurements yesterday evening (Dec. 27) show that the island surface was about 6 m (20 ft) above the lake surface.
Webcam views of the lava lake can be found here: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/multimedia_webcams.html.
Hazard Analysis: High levels of volcanic gas, rockfalls, explosions, and volcanic glass particles are the primary hazards of concern regarding this new activity at Kīlauea’s summit. Large amounts of volcanic gas—primarily water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)—are continuously released during eruptions of Kīlauea Volcano. As SO2 is released from the summit during this new eruption, it will react in the atmosphere with oxygen, sunlight, moisture, and other gases and particles, and within hours to days, convert to fine particles. The particles scatter sunlight and cause the visible haze that has been observed downwind of Kīlauea, known as vog (volcanic smog), during previous summit eruptions. Vog creates the potential for airborne health hazards to residents and visitors, damages agricultural crops and other plants, and affects livestock operations. Rockfalls and minor explosions, such as the ones that occurred during the 2008–2018 lava lake eruption at Kīlauea summit, may occur suddenly and without warning. This underscores the extremely hazardous nature of Kīlauea caldera rim surrounding Halemaʻumaʻu crater, an area that has been closed to the public since late 2007. Pele’s hair and other lightweight volcanic glass fragments from the lava fountains within Halemaʻumaʻu will fall downwind of the fissure vents and lava lake, dusting the ground within a few hundred meters (yards) of the vent. High winds may waft lighter particles to greater distances. Residents are urged to minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation similar to volcanic ash.
Vog information can be found at https://vog.ivhhn.org/.
To animate the video of the lava flowing out of the fissure, click on attached photo. Photos below of crater and sunrise over Kilauea and lava flowing out of the fissure all courtesy USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, all taken this morning.