Eruption goes on while lava lake reaches equilibrium for now / VolcanoDiscovery

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Sat, 26 Dec 2020, 19:44

19:44 PM | BY: T

Activity of the northern vent of Kilauea’s lava lake yesterday (image: HVO)

Summit tilt showing that weak inflation has started (image: HVO)

Summit tilt showing that weak inflation has started (image: HVO)

The new eruption continues with little changes, but the rapidly formed lava lake in the summit collapse crater might have reached an equilibrium between magma influx and drain, as it has only increased little during the past 24 hours.

The volcano observatory reported: “As of 2 pm yesterday, the crater lake was still 176 m (577 ft) deep and the lake level appeared to be 2 m (6 ft) lower leaving a narrow black ledge around the north edge. Early this morning, the west vent reactivated while the north vent quieted and started to drain the lake. Reduced SO2 emissions were measured last night.

Deflation of the summit (as a result from magma being emptied from internal storage into the lake) has stopped for now and shifted to a slow trend of inflation. This would correspond to increased internal vs external magma storage, i.e. more magma is being withheld in the underground storage system than is being erupted to the surface.

It will be interesting to see if the current lava lake will follow a similar pattern as the last one, active from 2008-18, with alternating phases of inflation and deflation each lasting a few days typically, so called inflation-deflation cycles. During each such cycle, the level of the lava lake fluctuates on the order of few meters.

Another possibility is that magma intrudes into horizontal storage systems, especially the very active eastern rift zone. Whether and if so, when, this might happen cannot be predicted at the moment. Kilauea’s summit lava lakes can be stable for any period ranging from days to years or even decades.

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