August 12: Pele Is Still Sleeping, Part 1

August 11, 2018. USGS: “The UAS team (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) flew a mission over fissure 8 to assess conditions within the cinder cone. As shown, fissure 8 contains two small ponds deep within its crater. One pond slowly circulates with an incandescent surface while the other pond is stagnant with a crusted top.” (Fuil-sized)
Weekly Eruption summary

So it’s finally arrived, the end (or at least intermission) of Fissure 8’s endless outpouring of lava from May 27 to August 4. The shutdown happened at the end of last week over a period of just 2-3 days.

August 11, 2018. USGS: “The fissure 8 cinder cone is currently about 30 m (100 ft) tall with a very broad base. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions are low, reflecting the diminished activity of the lava ponds in the cone.” (Full-sized)

Fissure 8 isn’t quite dead. There’s lava pooled deep down the cone, bubbling weakly. Residual lava is still draining out of the lava delta into the ocean, some of it quite near the now-famous Pohoiki Boat Ramp. But most of the surface channels have drained and solidified.

August 11, 2018. USGS: “Close view of the Pohoiki boat ramp during this morning’s overflight. The southern-most flow margin has not advanced significantly toward the Pohoiki boat ramp, but black sand and larger fragments from the entry areas have washed ashore to create a sand bar and beach at this site. Geologists observed several small lava streams trickling into the sea along the souther portion of the lava delta, producing weak laze plumes.” (Full-sized)

The volcano’s summit has settled, too. The caldera floor isn’t inflating or deflating, and the swarms of earthquakes and summit collapses have stopped.

So now the question becomes: how long do geologists, national park staff and residents wait before deciding it’s safe to start repairing the damage? Past Lower East Rift Zone eruptions have paused for days, even weeks. So scientists and officials continue to warn that this eruption could resume at any time.

August 7, 2018. USGS: “Civil Air Patrol captured this image of Kīlauea’s summit yesterday (August 7, 2018), providing a stunning view of Halema‘uma‘u and the collapsed area within the caldera. Prevailing trade winds have blown much of the ash emitted during earlier explosions to the southwest (left), where thin layers of light-colored volcanic ash now blanket the landscape. Plumes of smoke rising from the flank of Mauna Loa were from a brush fire that continues burning today. Mauna Kea is visible on the upper right horizon; the crater visible at bottom center is Keanakāko‘i.” (Full-sized)

This week’s Volcano Watch column from Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, written August 9, addresses exactly that question:

“Is Kīlauea Volcano’s summit and rift zone activity pau or paused?”

Also, it looks like I missed an August 6 USGS news media briefing discussing the eruption’s apparent shutdown (full audio).

Now let’s look back at recent images and videos posted on HVO’s Photo & Video Chronology page, which only shows the 10 most recent posts— so these are visible there now, but won’t be in the future.

First of all, remembering past collapse events— with sound! Full-sized video posted here, or a faster-loading small version on Twitter:

Continue reading August 12: Pele Is Still Sleeping, Part 1