(BIVN) – After a week of increased seismic activity at and around Kīlauea summit that prompted the USGS Information Statement, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geophysicist Ingrid Johansson is writing this week’s Volcano Watch article providing more information about recent events. From USGS HVO:
The 2018 eruption of the Near East Rift Zone and the collapse of the Caldera Summit saw the end of the 35-year and 10-year eruption of Puʻu بحيرة Lake, and the beginning of a new chapter in Kīlauea volcano activity. The volcano continues to behave in ways that are in response to major events of 2018 and a “new normal” has yet to be determined.
The range of possibilities for future events at Kīlauea is wide open and any new post-eruption monitoring sparks investigation as we work to better understand the current and future state of the volcano.
One of these observations was the first post-explosion detection of a deflation-and-inflation summit event (DI event) in late 2018. The return of the DI events was evidence that the shallow Halemaʻumaʻu reservoir – a magma chamber about 1.6 km (1 mi)) below the Kīlauea caldera – still contained On large quantities of magma. Another important “first” after the eruption was the formation of a water lake within Halemaʻumaʻu, which had not occurred for at least 200 years and could have dangerous implications for volcanic hazards.
Recently, the United States Geological Survey (HVO) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s monitoring network recorded the first other event after an eruption at the summit of Kīlauea: a magma breakout. In the wake of the November 30, 2020 earthquake, with its epicenter in the central K وسطlauea caldera, several pulses of increased seismic activity were recorded in the Upper East Rift Zone. During the early morning hours of December 2, HVO detected another spike in earthquake rates at the summit, which continued throughout the day. Then, at around 5:45 PM HST, earthquake activity intensified, this time concentrated under the southern portion of the Kīlauea caldera, near the edge of the new sloping eastern part. At the same time, tilt gauges are beginning to record accelerated deformation in directions that differ from the typical patterns.
Both the swarms and the ground deformation pattern were consistent with the small dam storming below the southern portion of the Kīlauea caldera. Dam penetration is the injection of magma into the host rock and can sometimes precede an eruption. But often, as in the case of December 2, the injection does not reach the surface.
Incursions into the summit of Kīlauea have been recorded several times. A notable recent event occurred in May 2015, when the swelling of the shallow Halemaʻumau Reservoir in Kīlauea resulted in a week of lava lake flooding and visible splash sprays from the Jaggar Museum. This ended when the magma was diverted into an intrusion in the southern caldera of Kaulauea, resulting in a low lava lake.
Early prototypes indicate that the December 2 break-in was minor. It contained 10 to 30 times less magma from infiltration in May 2015 and its volume equaled the amount of lava that erupted in just 1-2 hours of Fissure 8 during the 2018 eruption. However, despite its small size, it still remains A possible guide to future behavior.
In 1974, earthquake swarms engulfed the Upper East Rift Zone and the southern portion of the Kīlauea caldera, in addition to changes in the summit inclination, preceding the eruption of the Keanakākoi Crater by about 10 hours. The eruption of 1974 produced lava fountains up to 30 meters (100 feet) and sent lava flowing into the Kīlauea caldera. The eruption also opened fissures near the Luamano Crater that led to lava flowing over the Craters Road Range.
This scenario was on the minds of HVO scientists as the December 2 events unfolded and a nighttime observation was established to closely monitor the data feeds. However, as indicated by the HVO information statement on December 3, earthquake and deformation rates have slowed rapidly, and no additional signs have emerged that indicate an eruption is truly imminent. Seismic and deformation rates under the Kīlauea summit are mostly back to what they were prior to this intervention episode, although a new swarm of very small earthquakes is being monitored while this article is published for print.
Although this intrusion is small, it is a reminder that Kīlauea can still be considered one of the most active volcanoes on Earth and that the next eruption from Kīlauea Volcano is only a matter of time. We still face new “beginnings” in the post-2018 order that lead us towards a better understanding of this new period of activity. As always, the HVO monitors the monitoring data closely for any changes, large or small.
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