COURTESY USGS HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
Lava from a new eruption east of Kilauea's Puu Oo crater on the Big Island continued flowing yesterday and collected into lava ponds about 3 to 5 meters high.
Lava flows steady near Puu Oo
Lava continued to flow yesterday from a set of fissures about a mile east of Puu Oo crater, following the collapse of the crater's floor, scientists said.
The eruption that started Saturday continued at the same rate, according to geophysicists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Scientists visited the eruption area, between Puu Oo and Kupaianaha, yesterday to take samples and reposition a Web camera to video the activity.
To the southeast from the new eruption, a narrow lava flow had advanced within an older 1991 channel but came to a halt yesterday.
"So far this is a very low-energy style of eruption," said Steve Brantley, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory deputy scientist-in-charge. "It is not clear how long this eruption at this particular site will occur. That's really the question."
Above the active parts of the fissure, the lava formed three ponds about 3 to 5 meters high and 100 meters wide, scientists said.
The ponds typically form as a result of lava feeding to the surface at a slow rate, as opposed to vigorous activity that will move lava away from a vent.
Occurring in the Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve, the lava flow posed no danger to native species since it was paving ground covered by older flows, Brantley said.
Scientists do not know what is next for the eruption -- whether it will stop within a few days or continue for years, creating a new shield like Kupaianaha shield. When the new eruption ends, lava might return to Puu Oo crater, where activity has slowed, said Brantley.
Last month, about 260 small earthquakes shook the Upper East Rift Zone of the volcano, and scientists found an eruption at Kane Nui o Hamo. Since then that eruption site has grown quiet, with few earthquakes.
Brantley said the Kane Nui o Hamo eruption and Saturday's eruption were not directly related.
"There's been a passage of about a month's time. They're completely different parts of the rift zone. They're not part of the same supply of magma to the surface," he said.
Since February 1992 the eruption is the first in an area along a set of fissures about a mile east of Puu Oo. It did not force any closures at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Kilauea has been continuously erupting since Jan. 3, 1983.