COURTESY HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORYQUAKES' IMPACT:
In the wake of seismic activity rattling Kilauea Volcano since Sunday, geologists will do a fly-over today at Pu'u O'o vent, while the Chain of Craters Road remains closed. CLICK FOR LARGE
Quakes rattle anew for an hour
Lava feeding Pu'u O'o vent drops dramatically
For most of yesterday, geologists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory thought the rare string of small earthquakes rattling the upper East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano was at its end.
But about 4 p.m., the small earthquakes picked up again to one or two a minute for the next hour, jolting geologists and reminding them that Kilauea Volcano likes giving surprises.
"It was an exciting time all over again," said observa- tory scientist-in-charge Jim Kauahikaua.
Before that burst in activity, the swarm of small earthquakes diminished to fewer than 10 an hour, with geologists ruling out the likelihood of a new eruption site.
Though it's too early to determine the long-term effects of the magma intrusion that's causing the earthquakes, there has been a dramatic decrease in lava feeding the Pu'u O'o vent that could result in a pause in the eruption.
"The activity seems very subdued," Kauahikaua said. "We can't determine if lava is being fed into the tubes."
Geologists will perform another flyover this morning to take a closer look at the Pu'u O'o vent.
"In about a week after the earthquakes stop, we'll have a very interesting story to tell," Kauahikaua said.
The Chain of Craters Road of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will likely remain closed today as a precaution to visitors since there is some ongoing seismic activity, said ranger Mardie Lane.
COURTESY HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
The Petunia flow, which began in mid-May, continues to push toward the southeast. The upper part of the lava flow has already evolved into a well-developed lava tube that transports lava downslope to feed the terminus of the lengthening flow. CLICK FOR LARGE
The entrance fee also will likely be waived. Visitors are able to use Crater Rim Drive and the summit trails, which reopened yesterday.
A intrusion of magma collecting beneath the rift between Pauahi and Makaopuhi craters about 1 to 2 miles deep caused most of the earthquakes.
While most of the earthquakes were small, with the largest measuring 4.0 in magnitude Sunday, they caused a 3-inch crack in the Chain of Craters Road that lifted the road about half an inch, Lane said. Maintenance crews repaved it yesterday.
Other unusual occurrences at Kilauea Volcano:
January 1997: A magma intrusion creates new eruption sites in and northeast of Napau Crater, with lava spewing for 22 hours. A 30-day pause in lava flow at the Pu'u O'o vent also occurred.
September 1999: A magma intrusion generates a swarm of small earthquakes, resulting in an 11-day pause in lava flow at the Pu'u O'o vent, but no new eruption sites.