HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK – Kilauea volcano’s recent foreboding behavior leveled off somewhat on Sunday.
Going into the weekend, scientists with the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory raised concern when the lava lake at the summit dropped and earthquakes rumbled, swarming at their highest rate: one every couple of minutes for several hours. This, along with a change in the summit area deformation pattern, suggested that magma had moved on the southern part of the caldera and upper Southwest Rift Zone.
Scientists issued a special information statement identifying three possible scenarios that could play out in the coming days to weeks. They said magma could continue to accumulate in the southern part of Kilauea’s summit, but then stop with no eruption. Or, magma could continue intrude into the Southwest Rift Zone, either remaining within the rift zone or erupting there. A third possibility is a new eruption in the caldera. Scientists stress that much is uncertain, and future changes in the location of unrest — and the potential for eruption — could unfold quickly.
On Sunday things seemed to be calming down a bit. Rates of tilting recorded at Kilauea’s summit leveled and seismicity rates decreased. The summit lava lake level held steady at about 165 feet below the original crater floor. Activity remained steady by Monday morning, according to a USGS status update.
No significant change in tilt was detected by tiltmeters on Kīlauea’s summit over the past 24 hours. In the summit area, seismicity rates continue to be elevated over normal levels, but have decreased over the past several days. The summit lava lake level is unchanged from yesterday, at about 45-50 meters (150-165 feet) below the original crater floor. Sulfur dioxide emission rates averaged 3,400-6,900 tonnes/day for the week ending May 12.USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on May 18