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HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY DAILY UPDATE
U.S. Geological Survey

Thursday, December 1, 2016, 9:08 AM HST

KILAUEA VOLCANO
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: Eruptions continue at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit and East Rift Zone. The episode 61g lava flow in the East Rift Zone continues to enter the ocean at Kamokuna, feeding a small breakout on the lower pali along the way. In addition, the November 21 breakout at the episode 61g vent was active over the last day, advancing slowly to east, and was joined by a new breakout from the episode 61g vent early this morning. None of these lava flows pose a threat to nearby communities at this time. The lava lake at Kīlauea’s summit continues to circulate and spatter, with small fluctuations in level. Seismic activity continues at a low rate and deflationary tilt started at the summit last night.

Summit Observations: Summit tiltmeters recorded the onset of deflationary tilt at about 10 PM last night (11/30), marking the start of a new deflationary-inflationary cycle (DI event). Seismic activity continues at a low rate. The summit lava lake level and the amplitude of summit seismic tremor continue to fluctuate as spattering in the lake waxes and wanes. There was, however, an overall drop of several meters (yards) associated with the ongoing summit deflation. The depth to the surface of the lava lake was measured this morning at 13.5 m (~44 ft) below the adjacent floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. This is still a high level, and the lake surface was easily visible this morning from Jaggar Museum, when not socked in by the weather. Current views of the lava lake are available at: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/cams/region_kism.php. Over the past week, the average daily sulfur dioxide emission rate at the summit has ranged from 2,300 to 6,600 metric tons/day.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: Webcam views show persistent glow from sources within Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater and from a vent near its northeast rim. The sulfur dioxide emission rate from all East Rift Zone vents was about 340 metric tons/day when last measured on November 30. Seismicity continues at low levels.

Lava Flow Observations: The November 21 breakout from the episode 61g vent on the east flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō remains active, based on webcam views. At about 4 AM this morning, a new breakout (much like the November 21 breakout) started from the episode 61g vent, sending more lava streaming to the east. This new breakout was still active at sunrise, having advanced a few hundred meters (yards) downslope. Lava also continues to travel through the main (original) branch of the episode 61g flow and enter the ocean at Kamokuna, where activity has been concentrated on the east side of the delta. The vigor of the plume waxed and waned through the day yesterday, sometimes becoming very wispy. A breakout near the base of the Pūlama pali, inland from the ocean entry, also remains active.

As a strong caution to visitors viewing the 61g flow ocean entry (where lava meets the sea), there are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water. Also, the new land created is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf, causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea. In several instances, such collapses, once started, have also incorporated parts of the older sea cliff. Prominent cracks observed in the surface of the relatively large eastern lava delta at Kamokuna indicate instability and an increased potential for larger collapse events. Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates a corrosive seawater plume laden with hydrochloric acid and fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.
This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of November 3 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of November 29 is shown in red. The new flow branch east of Puʻu ʻŌʻō started from a breakout at the episode 61g vent on November 21. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow lines (dashed where uncertain) show the mapped trace of lava tubes as determined from aerial thermal imaging and ground mapping.

The blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth's surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).
Video from July of flow moving toward ocean
The Lava has reached the ocean for the first time in 3-1/2 years
A close-up of one of several streams of lava entering the ocean at the front of the Kamokuna lava delta on Kīlauea's south flank.