Kilauea Volcano Downgraded to “Normal”

Alert Level Green
Alert level lowered to “green”.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) has downgraded Kilauea Volcano to “normal” signifying an official end to all eruptive activity that ended in August 2018. It has been more than seven months since the volcano last erupted. The lava threat is long gone, eruptive activity is no more, the volcano for the time being is “pau”, done, finished, ended.

From the release issued by the USGS:

Activity Summary: Kīlauea Volcano is not erupting. Monitoring data over the past eight months have shown relatively low rates of seismicity, deformation, and gas emission at the summit and East Rift Zone (ERZ) including the area of the 2018 eruption.

Accordingly, today the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) lowered the Volcano Alert Level for ground-based hazards from ADVISORY to NORMAL. This means the volcano is at a non-eruptive, background state. The Aviation Color Code is was also lowered from YELLOW to GREEN. For more information, please see the Volcano Activity Notice posted in the today on HVO’s web site in the Update section.

For definitions of USGS Volcano Alert Levels and Aviation Color Codes, see: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vhp/about_alerts.html

Despite this change, Kīlauea remains an active volcano, and it will erupt again. Although we expect clear signs prior to a return to eruption, the time frame of warning may be short. Island of Hawaiʻi residents should be familiar with the long-term hazard map for Kīlauea Volcano and how to stay informed about Kīlauea activity.

Lava flow hazard map for the Island of Hawaiʻi: https://pubs.usgs.gov/mf/1992/2193/

Observations: This past week saw no significant change in monitoring data or volcanic activity. Low rates of seismicity continue across the volcano, with earthquakes occurring primarily in the summit and south flank regions. GPS stations and tiltmeters continue to show motions consistent with refilling of the deep East Rift Zone magma reservoir. Sulfur dioxide emission rates from the summit and from Puʻu ʻŌʻō remain low. These rates have been steady over the past several weeks.

A GPS station on the north flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō has been showing steady slumping of the craters edge. This motion is not directly related to magmatic activity, but is interpreted to be sliding of the unstable edge of Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone. Small collapses at Puʻu ʻŌʻō have occurred since the eruption due to instability.

Hazards remain in the lower East Rift Zone eruption area and at the Kīlauea summit. Residents and visitors near the 2018 fissures, lava flows, and summit collapse area should heed Hawaii County Civil Defense and National Park warnings. Hawaii County Civil Defense advises that lava flows and features created by the 2018 eruption are primarily on private property and persons are asked to be respectful and not enter or park on private property.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) continues to closely monitor Kīlauea’s seismicity, deformation, and gas emissions for any sign of increased activity. HVO maintains visual surveillance of the volcano with web cameras and occasional field visits. HVO will continue to issue a weekly update (every Tuesday) until further notice, and we will issue additional messages as warranted by changing activity.

Last years Kilauea eruption was the climax to a long lasting eruption that started in the Pu’u O’o area back in January 1983 and had continuously been active from that point until August 2018. On May 3, 2018, lava erupted in the lower East Rift Zone in the Puna area. The eruption caused millions of dollars of damage, overran more than 700 homes downslope of the several fissures that opened in the area. The resulting lava flow built many acres of new land, though all of it is currently useless, jagged, black, hardened lava.

The Hawaii State Legislature will be allocating $60 million this year to help residents and the County of Hawaii recover from all of the eruption’s damage.

The Hawaii Files Volcano Channel

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Melvin Ah Ching is a photographer, consultant, blogger, desktop publisher, and computer enthusiast living and working in Hawaii. The Hawaii Files have been online since 2006.