(BIVN) – The weekly Kīlauea activity report was released on Tuesday, and the situation on the volcano holds steady.
Kīlauea is not erupting, and the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says monitoring data over the past eight months have shown relatively low rates of seismicity, deformation, and gas emission at the summit and East Rift Zone (ERZ) including the area of the 2018 eruption.
The magnitude 5.3 earthquake that occurred over the weekend was not from Kilauea, scientists report. The quake was felt across the island.
Kīlauea remains at a NORMAL/GREEN alert level, however USGS HVO says:
Despite this classification, Kīlauea remains an active volcano, and it will erupt again. Although we expect clear signs prior to a return to eruption, the time frame of warning may be short. Island of Hawaiʻi residents should be familiar with the long-term hazard map for Kīlauea Volcano and how to stay informed about Kīlauea activity.
“There is no absolute, repeatable pattern,” said USGS HVO Scientist-in-Charge Tina Neal during a recent interview with Sherry Bracken for the Island Issues radio program. “As I like to say there’s no script for the volcano to follow. That’s why we still have so much to learn.”
Neal says her fellow geologists have done a comprehensive review of all of the historical eruptions in order to try to understand “what the patterns, if any, are surrounding what happens to a volcano after a major eruptive event like what happened in 2018.”
Neal said there is “the more likely scenario that it will take a couple of years for magma to accumulate with sufficient pressure to reach the summit and – again, based on what has happened in similar events of the past – it looks most likely that lava would first erupt in the summit caldera, and that a rift zone eruption – either southwest or east rift zone – would be sometime later. But that’s by no means a certainty. We’ve put this out in a sense of a hypothesis to see if the model holds.”
“Soon after the end of 2018 eruptive period, we saw – based on GPS and tilt meter data – the evidence that the middle East Rift Zone from about Puʻu Ōʻō to Highway 130 was again refilling,” Neal said. “In other words, there’s accumulation of molten material deeper in the rift zone there, so we know that the volcano is still receiving melt in that part. It’s a very slow rate of accumulation. There’s nothing alarming to us about this, and in fact we had been seeing evidence of that in the years leading up to the 2018 eruption. So I think that’s just a background state of the volcano. Now that we have so much more instrumentation on Kīlauea than we did 30, 40, 50 years ago, we are seeing the dynamism of the volcano all the time.”
Here are the written observations, posted to the USGS HVO website on April 16:
This past week saw no significant change in monitoring data or volcanic activity. Low rates of seismicity continue across the volcano, with earthquakes occurring primarily in the summit and south flank regions. GPS stations and tiltmeters continue to show motions consistent with refilling of the deep East Rift Zone magma reservoir. Sulfur dioxide emission rates from the summit and from Puʻu ʻŌʻō remain low. These rates have been steady over the past several months.
A GPS station on the north flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō has been showing steady slumping of the craters edge, and the motion has continued this week. This motion is not directly related to magmatic activity, but is interpreted to be sliding of the unstable edge of Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone. Small collapses at Puʻu ʻŌʻō have occurred since the eruption due to instability.
Hazards remain in the lower East Rift Zone eruption area and at the Kīlauea summit. Residents and visitors near the 2018 fissures, lava flows, and summit collapse area should heed Hawaii County Civil Defense and National Park warnings. Hawaii County Civil Defense advises that lava flows and features created by the 2018 eruption are primarily on private property and persons are asked to be respectful and not enter or park on private property.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) continues to closely monitor Kīlauea’s seismicity, deformation, and gas emissions for any sign of increased activity. HVO maintains visual surveillance of the volcano with web cameras and occasional field visits. HVO will continue to issue a weekly update (every Tuesday) until further notice, and we will issue additional messages as warranted by changing activity.