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USGS: New Lava Breakout on Pu’u ‘O’o Cone

June 28, 2014

Elevated pressure within Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone reached a breaking point this morning  (June 27) with magma intruding through the cone and erupting from fissures on the northeast flank of the cone. These new vents fed a vigorous, but still relatively short, channelized flow that had reached about 1.5 km (0.9 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō by 11 am. This new activity was accompanied by minor sagging of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater floor, due to withdrawal of magma within the cone. (USGS)

The following photos and videos were released by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (USGS). Note: these photos were not taken in areas currently accessible to the public. (You can visit the official website of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park for current information on the areas of Kilauea that are open to public).

View of the sinuous channelized flow that is moving to the northeast. The flow front this morning was about 1.5 km (0.9 miles) from Puʻu ʻŌʻō. (USGS)

CLICK TO WATCH: This Quicktime movie shows the swiftly moving lava in the channelized flow. (USGS)

CLICK TO WATCH: This Quicktime movie shows a large chunk of lava being pushed by the current in the channel. (USGS)

This comparison of a normal photograph with a thermal image shows the distribution of activity northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Today’s breakouts originated from several fissures on the upper northeast flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone, sending out flows to the northeast. These partially overlap with the existing Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, which had scattered surface flows this morning. (USGS)

A closer look at the breakout points of today’s new activity. The lava erupted from several fissures which broke through, and slightly uplifted, older lava on the cone. (USGS)

A very close view of one of the breakout points, with fresh spatter coating the older lava. (USGS)

Another view of the spatter coating the area around the breakout point. (USGS)

The withdrawal of magma from within Puʻu ʻŌʻō, to feed the new flows, has caused minor subsidence of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater floor since this morning. This was associated with small collapses at the spatter cones on the crater floor. A partial collapse of this cone revealed a small pond of lava just below the surface. (USGS)

As noted above, the new flows have caused withdrawal of magma within Puʻu ʻŌʻō and small collapses of the several cones on the crater floor. Dropping lava levels in the northeast lava pond in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater caused collapses and enlargement of the pond, which has nearly claimed the time-lapse camera (left side of images) observing the lava pond. (USGS)

Surface flows remained active this morning on the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, but today’s observations suggest that the new breakouts at Puʻu ʻŌʻō may have interrupted the lava supply to the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow field. Observations over the next few days will be able to determine if the lava supply to the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow has ceased. (USGS)

Map showing the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow (pink) in relation to the eastern part of the Island of Hawaiʻi as of June 17, 2014. The most distant active Kahaualeʻa 2 lava flows were 7.1 km (4.4 miles) straight-line distance northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. A new breakout (shown in red) started today on the northeast flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō and is sending new lava flows toward the northeast. Time will tell if these new flows rob the supply of lava to the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, causing it to stall. Older lava flows are distinguished by color: episodes 1–48b flows (1983–1986) are shown in gray; episodes 48c–49 flows (1986–1992) are pale yellow; episodes 50–55 flows (1992–2007) are tan; episodes 58–60 flows (2007–2011) are pale orange, and episode 61 flows (2011–2013) are reddish orange. The Kahaualeʻa 2 lava tube is shown with a yellow line (dashed where its position is poorly known). (USGS)



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