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Volcano Watch: Kilauea activity update for March 22, 2019

The 2018 Kīlauea Volcano eruption marked the first time the federal government used Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to assist in an eruption response in the United States. The UAS were used to survey areas otherwise inaccessible or too hazardous for field crews or manned aircraft, collect multiple types of data, and provide 24/7 real-time situational awareness at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit and lower East Rift Zone. This video includes UAS footage from missions flown on May 21, May 27, June 8, June 13, November 7, and November 8, 2018.
Thermal camera time-lapse movie at Mile Marker 14.5 on Pahoa-Kalapana Road (Route 130) March 14-22, 2019. Images courtesy HDOT
This video was taken during a recent overflight of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater on Kīlauea Volcano’s middle East Rift Zone. No major changes were observed at the crater, but its shape continues to be altered by small rockfalls within it. Video taken Monday, March 18, 2019 courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey
This 3D model of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater was constructed from thermal images taken during a recent helicopter overflight. White areas show warm spots in the crater. Despite the absence of active lava in Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, changes at the crater have continued since magma drained from beneath it on April 30, 2018. The shape of the crater continues to change through occasional small collapses within it. Images taken Monday, March 18, 2019 courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey

(Activity updates are written by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.)

Kīlauea is not erupting. Rates of seismicity, deformation, and gas release have not changed significantly over the past week.

Two earthquakes with three or more felt reports occurred in Hawaiʻi during the past week.On March 20 at 2:18 a.m. HST, a magnitude-3.0 earthquake occurred 12 km (7 mi) south of Honokaʻa at 31 km (19 mi) depth.  On March 19 at 5:16 p.m. HST, a magnitude-3.2 earthquake occurred 14 km (9 mi) south of Fern Acres at 6 km (4 mi) depth.  

Deformation signals are consistent with refilling of Kīlauea Volcano’s deep East Rift Zone (ERZ) magma reservoir. Sulfur dioxide emission rates on the ERZ and at Kīlauea’s summit remain low and have been steady over the past several weeks.

A GPS station on the north flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō has been showing steady slumping of the craters edge. This motion is not directly related to magmatic activity but is interpreted to be sliding of the unstable edge of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone. Small collapses at Puʻu ʻŌʻō have occurred since the eruption due to instability.

Hazardous conditions still exist at both the lower ERZ and summit of Kīlauea. Residents and visitors in the lower Puna District and Kīlauea summit areas on the Island of Hawaiʻi should stay informed and heed Hawai‘i County Civil Defense closures, warnings, and messages (www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-al…). HVO continues to closely monitor Kīlauea for any sign of increased activity.

The USGS Volcano Alert level for Mauna Loa remains at NORMAL.

Please visit HVO’s website (volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo) for past Volcano Watch articles, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa updates, volcano photos, maps, recent earthquake info, and more. Call 808-967-8862 for weekly Kīlauea updates. Email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.

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