The Kamoamoa Fissure Eruption that began March 5, 2011, continues on the east rift of Kilauea Volcano.
Lava spatters sporadically to heights of 100′ from a series of fissues that extend more than a mile between Napau Crater and Pu`u `O`o. Around the vents, the ground trembles and molten rock pools and flows.
In response to the change in volcanic conditions, nearly thirty park personnel have rallied to support this major incident, meeting and planning for the first time in the park’s new Visitor Emergency Operations Center.
Rangers remain vigilant. Seismicity is ongoing, the volcano’s summit continues to deflate, and magma migrates underground beneath roads, trails, and campsites. Most of the park remains open, however temporary closures help ensure that hikers, bikers, and cars don’t get trapped on the ‘wrong side’ of an outbreak.
USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists seize this opportunity to collect lava samples, map a changing landscape, and measure surface deformation. Instruments record sulfur dioxide gas emissions at a breath-taking 10,000 tons a day.
Park firefighters gauge the threat of lava-ignited wildfires. Nearly 200 acres have been burned and buried. Fortunately for now, passing showers offer a reprieve from potential flare-ups in native rain forest.
Public and media interest is keen and visitation is up. Because the eruption is remote and inaccessible, rangers post the latest information, photos, and videos at Kilauea Visitor Center and Jaggar Museum. A webcam view is available on-line at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/cams/NCcam/
It’s a phenomenal time, and for some, deja vu. The volcanic event is happening where it all began twenty-eight years ago. On January 3, 1983, Kilauea’s ongoing east rift eruption opened in this very location. Anxious newcomers can’t help but wonder “What happens next?” Old-timers take pause and ponder, and share an occasional “I remember when… “