Volcano Watch: Turn to USGS, other trusted sources for Kilauea eruption info

  • USGS photo

    Fissure 17 as seen from the air around 7 a.m. Thursday, when the overall vigor of fissure appeared to have dropped from the previous two days. Twenty fissures have erupted in the lower Puna District as of Thursday and additional fissures could still open as this eruption on Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone continues.

False rumors about the ongoing volcanic activity at the summit and lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano are causing unnecessary anxiety and confusion. We encourage everyone to check the source of any information you read or hear to be sure that it’s factual, accurate and timely.

Particularly disturbing are individuals who take a kernel of truth (for example, data from vetted scientific papers), twist it into a lump of misinformation and then present a skewed view of that data as fact. Please beware of spurious reports, and don’t believe everything you read on social media — unless it’s posted by a known and trusted source.

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So, where can you get the straight facts about what’s happening on Kilauea? Here are some reliable sources of information:

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website (https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/) is where you can find daily eruption updates, photos, videos, webcams and maps. In addition to the daily updates, we also have been posting status reports, information statements and volcano activity notices as warranted.

If you prefer to receive HVO’s updates and other notices automatically via email, check out the USGS Volcano Notification Service. You can sign up for this free service at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vns/.

If you don’t have access to the website, you can call 967-8862 to hear a recorded summary update for Kilauea.

Back to HVO’s website, there’s a new tab labeled “2018 Activity” in the menu at the top of the home page. Click that tab to open a list of numerous resources related to the current summit and East Rift Zone volcanic activity.

Also, take a look at the “HVO News” section in the lower left corner of HVO’s home page. There, you will find information that dispels some of the more egregious rumors. For example, check out the news item that provides facts about the stability of Kilauea’s south flank and addresses the possibility of a flank collapse and tsunami (you will feel more at ease after reading it). There’s also a report about explosion hazards at the summit of Kilauea, as well as a timeline of Kilauea events since late April 2018.

Other U.S. Geological Survey websites also are great resources. The USGS Volcanic Ash Impacts and Mitigation website (https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanic_ash/) provides a wealth of information about what to do and how to protect yourself, buildings, plants and animals if you are in the path of falling ash.

As you can imagine, interest in HVO’s website has skyrocketed. With nearly continuous seismic activity at Kilauea’s summit and lower East Rift Zone, HVO’s earthquake page has been overwhelmed at times. If/when that happens, you still can get Hawaii earthquake information through the USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) at https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map/. Scroll across the NEIC map until you see Hawaii, then zoom in. Change the settings to your preference and you’ll be able to track earthquake activity around the island.

If you prefer to get information via social media, check out the USGS Volcanoes Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/USGSVolcanoes) and USGS Volcanoes Twitter. USGS scientists are keeping readers up to date on Kilauea, as well as other U.S. volcanoes.

Many readers are likely familiar with the Hawaii Interagency Vog Information Dashboard (https://vog.ivhhn.org/), which provides comprehensive information about vog (volcanic air pollution). Note that two new links have been added to this website to address ash hazards from the Kilauea summit explosions and the ongoing eruption on Kilauea’s lower East Rift Zone.

Residents and visitors can receive timely notifications about emergency situations in Hawaii County, including the current volcanic activity, through the Civil Defense Emergency Notification System. You can sign up for these notices at https://countyofhawaii.bbcportal.com.

As volcanic activity at Kilauea’s summit and East Rift Zone continues, we encourage you to stay informed through trusted sources and to help your friends and family get the straight facts. Also, please be safe out there — heed all warnings and stay out of closed areas.

Volcano activity updates

On Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone, low-level eruption of lava continues from multiple points along the active fissure system. Residents in the lower Puna District should remain informed and heed Hawaii County Civil Defense closures, warnings and messages (http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts). At Kilauea’s summit, an explosion, or series of explosions, from the Overlook vent within Halemaʻumaʻu crater Thursday produced a volcanic cloud that reached as high as 30,000 feet above sea level. The cloud drifted generally northeast and traces of ash fell in areas around Kilauea’s summit. Summit activity could again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles close to the vent. Communities downwind should be prepared for ashfall as long as this activity continues.

Mauna Loa is not erupting. Rates of deformation and seismicity have not changed significantly during the past week. The number of monthly and weekly earthquakes recorded beneath the volcano has decreased to near background levels.

Twenty earthquakes were reported felt in Hawaii during the past week. Some were aftershocks associated with the magnitude-6.9 earthquake May 4, but many others were related to continued deflation at Kilauea’s summit and with the ongoing intrusion of magma into the volcano’s East Rift Zone. Additional felt earthquakes should be expected in the coming days to weeks.

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Visit HVO’s website (https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo) for past Volcano Watch articles, Kilauea daily eruption updates, Mauna Loa weekly updates, volcano photos, maps, recent earthquake info, and more. Call for summary updates at 967-8862 (Kilauea) or 967-8866 (Mauna Loa). Email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.

Volcano Watch (https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html) is a weekly article and activity update written by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists and affiliates.