The Sciences

Pu`u O`o crater vent collapse - and new eruption at Napau Crater?

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiMar 5, 2011 6:28 AM


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Things have been exciting in Hawai`i lately - and today is no exception. The crater vent inside at Pu`u O`o collapsed in spectacular fashion this evening, with the whole crust of on top of a large lava lake foundering over the course of a few hours. Eruptions reader Pgen Pgen created a

timelapse from the Pu`u O`o webcam

showing this impressive event - and you can watch the webcams yourself to see what else happens. You can see starting at ~0:13 the floor of the crater begin to sag and then at ~0:16 the right side of the crater begins to slump quickly, following by the middle where the small spatter cone was. By 0:19 the entire crater floor is foundering into the lava below as it appears to drain out from below. The collapse was accompanied by a lot of seismicity at Pu`u O`o as well. You can also see the rapid deflation at Pu`u O`o on the tiltmeter as well. Right now, it seems that a crust is already forming on the exposed lava at Pu`u O`o after this foundering, but likely the magma that drained from the vent re-entered the lava tube system in the east rift zone at Kilauea. There was also another collapse at the Halema`uma`u Crater as well, all caught on video or images from the webcams. It appears that after the Pu`u O`o collapse, the lava lake at Halema`uma`u has started draining as well (see below).

UPDATE: Apparently, a new eruption may have started at Napau Crater a few hours after the draining at Pu`u O`o and Halema`uma`u. This is could be similar to Episode 54 in 1997 (thanks to Ron Schott for reminding me of this). From a lab prepared by U of Hawaii's Dr. Michael Garcia: "Episode 54 occurred several kilometers uprift of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent and was accompanied by rapid subsidence of Kīlauea’s summit and an intrusion into the East Rift Zone. The compositional and mineralogical differences of episode 54 lavas indicate a mixing event likely occurred shortly before the eruption."

Halema`uma`u Crater, March 3, 2011

Halema`uma`u Crater, March 5, 2011, 22:23 EST

{Special thanks to all the Eruptions readers who were on this so quickly!}

Top left: Lava flow from the Pu`u O`o vent seen on March 3, 2011. The vent collapses on March 5, 2011. Image courtesy of HVO/USGS

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