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Kilauea's summit lava lake continues to overflow into crater

Associated Press logo Associated Press 4/25/2018 By SOPHIA YAN, Associated Press
In this April 21, 2018 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, the slowly rising lava lake at Kilauea's summit is shown very close the floor of Halemaumau Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii's Big Island. Lava from Kilauea's summit lava lake continues to overflow intermittently out of its Overlook crater onto the floor of Halemaumau Crater, after recording its largest overflow since the summit vent opened up 10 years ago. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists noted overflows again Wednesday morning around 8:30 a.m., after two episodes of activity Tuesday. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP) © The Associated Press In this April 21, 2018 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, the slowly rising lava lake at Kilauea's summit is shown very close the floor of Halemaumau Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii's Big Island. Lava from Kilauea's summit lava lake continues to overflow intermittently out of its Overlook crater onto the floor of Halemaumau Crater, after recording its largest overflow since the summit vent opened up 10 years ago. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists noted overflows again Wednesday morning around 8:30 a.m., after two episodes of activity Tuesday. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

HONOLULU — Lava overflowed from Kilauea's summit crater lava lake Wednesday, pouring onto the floor of Halemaumau Crater days after the largest spill in 10 years on the Hawaiian volcano.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory recorded new activity Wednesday morning after two episodes Tuesday.

"The lava lake level is still quite high," said Janet Babb, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist.

On Tuesday, the observatory issued a volcano activity notice about the high level of lava, likely because of an increase in the amount of magma stored within Kilauea.

A separate notice issued last week warned of the potential for a new vent and lava flow at Puu Oo or along Kilauea's East Rift Zone. The notice said the magma system beneath Puu Oo had become increasingly pressurized, leading scientists to think a new vent could open soon.

"We're able to visibly see the crater floor in Puu Oo rise," Babb said.

In 2016, the vent adjacent to the summit known as Puu Oo erupted and sent lava trickling down the mountainside and into the Pacific Ocean for the first time in several years.

A 1983 Puu Oo eruption resulted in lava fountains soaring over 1,500 feet high. In the decades since, the lava flow has buried 48 square miles of land and destroyed many homes.

In 2008, after a series of small earthquakes rattled the island, Kilauea's summit crater opened and gushed lava and rock over 75 acres of the mountain, damaging a nearby visitor overlook.

Overflow on Monday was the largest of four pulses from the lava lake that escaped onto the crater floor since late Sunday night, resulting in the largest overflow since the summit vent opened up 10 years ago, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported . Scientists also noted a small overflow of the south crater rim at around midnight Saturday.

The summit lava lake last overflowed in October 2016. It also overflowed in April and May 2015. This week's overflows represent the third time the summit's lava lake has risen high enough to spill out onto the crater floor.

The area around Halemaumau remains closed to the public because of the ongoing volcanic hazards, including elevated sulfur dioxide gas emissions and possible rockfalls and explosions.

When Hawaiian Volcano Observatory issued its volcano activity notice last week, it was the first time the outpost of the U.S. Geological Service had ever produced a formal warning about a possible new vent, said Steven Brantley, deputy scientist in charge at the observatory.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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