Update: Kilauea's New Eruption Strengthens and Spreads

Kilauea's new Kamoamoa Eruption at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photos.

At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the new eruption on Kilauea's east flank that began on March 5 has intensified.

The flow emerges from the western end of the 1.4 mile-long Kamoamoa fissure, which is located between Pu'u 'Ō'ō and the Nāpau Crater in a remote area of Kilauea's east rift zone. Now referred to as the Kamoamoa Eruption, the eruption has grown significantly in size and vigor. The current flow volume of about 2.5 million cubic meters per day is five times more than Kilauea has been putting out from the east rift zone during the past several years.

Lava flows -- ropy-smooth pahoehoe near the fissure and cindery-clinky ‘a‘a at the flow terminus -- now extend nearly two miles downslope. While the active channel within the flow is only about 65 feet wide, the flow reaches a width of nearly 1,000 feet in some downslope places.

Sulfur dioxide gas emissions from this new eruption have declined to about 4,400 tons a day While this is considerably less than the original 10,000 tons a day, it is still well above normal.

The Kamoamoa Eruption has not destroyed any structures, but is producing significant environmental impacts. The flows have already covered at least 162 acres of park land. Wildfires ignited by the flows have burned at least 78 acres of forest land, including the tract shown in the accompanying photo. Since volcanic fumes are impacting the forest well downwind of the fissures, there will be additional diebacks of ferns, shrubs, and trees outside the flow zone.

The eruption has visual impacts as well. The lava that had been spattering from the fissure to heights of around 80 feet now reaches heights as great as 200 feet (but more typically 100-130 feet). This is well short of the towering fire fountains produced nearly 30 years ago when Kilauea's current eruption cycle began, but it's still an impressive sight for a volcano that is renowned for its "quiet" eruptions.

Some facilities and areas of the park have been closed to protect the public. For comprehensive, up to date information about existing and pending closures, visit this site.

For Kilauea Status Reports, Updates, and Information Releases, visit this USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) site. To see live views of the Kamoamoa Eruption, visit this HVO webcam site.

Incident Command System (ICS) remains in effect at the park and is operating out of the park’s new Visitor Emergency Operations Center.

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Mother Nature is beautiful.