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HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY DAILY UPDATE

Tuesday, December 20, 2016, 8:53 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: Kīlauea Volcano continues to erupt in two locations. The
episode 61g lava flow from Puʻu ʻŌʻō in the East Rift Zone is entering the
ocean at Kamokuna. A younger branch of the flow is active near Puʻu ʻŌʻō
and advancing slowly eastward. These lava flows pose no threat to nearby
communities at this time. The lava lake at Kīlauea’s summit continues to
circulate, with intermittent periods of spattering. Tilt and lava lake level at the
Summit continued to decrease overnight. Seismic activity continues at a low
rate overall.

Summit Observations: Last week, the average daily sulfur dioxide emission
rate at the summit was approximately 5,000 metric tons/day. Summit seismic
activity remains low overall. The summit continues to deflate. The level of the
summit lava lake was approximately 24 m (79 ft) below the vent rim as
measured this morning.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: There were no obvious changes at Puʻu ʻŌʻō.
Webcam views show persistent glow from sources within the crater and from
a vent high on the northeast flank of the cone. The tiltmeter on the northwest
flank of the cone showed a slight decrease in tilt over the past day. The sulfur
dioxide emission rate from all East Rift Zone vents was about 340 metric
tons/day when last measured on November 30. Seismicity in the Puʻu ʻŌʻō
area continues at low levels.

Lava Flow Observations: The episode 61g flow is still active and entering the
ocean at Kamokuna, where activity has been concentrated on the east side
of the delta. In addition, a younger branch of the episode 61g vent remains
active east of Puʻu ʻŌʻō and is advancing slowly east at a rate of only a few
tens of meters (yards) per day. A small breakout near the vent continues this
morning and is mostly covering earlier episode 61g lava. The episode 61g
flow poses no threat to nearby communities at this time.

As a strong caution to visitors viewing the episode 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 29 is shown in pink,
while widening and advancement of the active flow as of December 14,
based on satellite imagery, is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows
(1983–2016) are shown in gray.

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
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.
TIME-LAPSE sequence of lava lake activity at Halemaʻumaʻu