Eruption is revived and redefined


POSTED: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

HILO » The plume of dust and gas from the vent in Halemaumau Crater at Kilauea volcano's summit is dirty, at times dark, and not stopping.

The vent producing this stuff, partially blocked for a while, is open again.

And speculation by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Jan. 7 that the summit eruption might be ending seems laid to rest.

With no lava flows from the vent then or earlier, observatory head Jim Kauahikawa released a carefully worded statement in January.

“;If an eruption is defined as a volcanic event that deposits solid material on the ground, then Halemaumau's eruption stopped in mid-December,”; he said then.

Observatory spokeswoman Janet Babb yesterday said the solid material stopped for a while, but sulfur-dioxide gas and ground shaking from magma movement have been continuous.

And Thursday, the solid material was back, if only for a few minutes. The observatory described the “;dense ashy plume”; as “;robust.”;

An infrared camera view looking through the fumes 130 yards into the vent, showed a red-hot, wide-open “;conduit”; at the bottom leading still deeper into the earth.

A month earlier infrared showed little more than a false purple color, meaning less heat and no visible conduit.

A rock fall inside the vent is believed to have opened up the plumbing on Wednesday and provided dust for the vent to shoot out.

Sunday two more rock falls occurred.

Since then, the fumes have been described as “;wispy”; and white, with little ash on the ground. But no one is saying the summit eruption is over.