March 8, 2011

Small quakes herald fissure eruptions in Hawaii

Posted by Austin Elliott

Hawaii is trembling this week as the ongoing eruption at Kilauea undergoes some significant changes. A large number of small quakes along a major fracture zone leading from Kilauea’s main crater suggests the migration of magma through the subterranean plumbing system.

The past week's earthquakes at Kilauea volcano on the big island of Hawaii. Tremors cluster near the sites of new eruptive activity.

The volcano guys are doing a great job covering this, collecting footage and info, so I’ll direct you to them for the details. I highly encourage you to peruse the beautiful and fascinating images and video coming from the spewing island.

The basics of the situation are that on Saturday lava drained dramatically from the two main eruptive craters, and fissures between them soon began opening and spewing lava. Of course the cracking and propagation of these fissures induce earthquakes, so a spate of minor tremors has accompanied the new eruption. Here’s a spectacular (and risky!) video of lava propagating through one of those cracks.

[wpvideo ZNZYuNQt]

The source of most of the info and footage is the Hawaii Volcano Observatory. If you’re planning a trip to Volcanoes NP any time soon I’d advise you to check the National Park website since the unpredictable new situation has led to some major closures and logistical rearrangement. The volcano blogs will keep you posted–check out links to them on the right!