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Hot lava flows from pond on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano

USGS

One of the more vigorous vents in Kilauea's Pu'u 'O'o Crater, seen at lower left, is topped by a 20-foot-tall spatter cone. The flow from this vent cascades down several steps, joining the flow from two other nearby vents, before going under a small bridge and into the broad area of ponded lava to the west.

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is doing a slow burn while the world watches.

Kilauea isn't the kind of volcano that blows its top — as Washington state's Mount St. Helens did in 1980, or as Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano did last year, or as Alaska's Cleveland Volcano is starting to do. Instead, lava rises from fissures on Kilauea, which is part of a national park on Hawaii's Big Island.


The volcano's Pu'u 'O'o cone has been erupting since 1983 with few interruptions. Last week, the U.S. Geological Survey reported a fresh breakout of lava. This video shows what happens as the bright orange lava erupts from spatter cones, then cools and moves down slope:

This Aug. 8 video from the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory shows lava flowing on the west slope of Pu'u 'O'o crater.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, this current phase of the Kilauea activity, known as the Kamoamoa fissure eruption, began on March 5 when lava began fountaining between the Pu'u 'O'o and Napau craters. When the fountaining stopped, lava began building in Pu'u 'O'o, forming the molten lake that drained in a dramatic collapse on Aug. 3.

Here are a few more pictures from the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, released on Monday. It's important to note that the active flows remain entirely within the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and pose no threat to the public.

USGS

After the collapse of the crater floor on Aug. 3, Pu'u 'O'o has been filled with thick fume. A very tiny flow, visible only with a thermal camera, was active on the crater floor.

USGS

This thermal image, looking southwest, shows the very small flow active in the bottom of Pu'u 'O'o crater. In the upper right, the active flows on the lower west flank of Pu'u 'O'o can be seen.

USGS

This view, looking east, shows the broad area of ponded lava fed by two main channels originating from several individual vents. The fume-filled Pu'u 'O'o Crater is in the background. The darker lava in the foreground is from the Kamoamoa eruption in March.

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