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Park Remains Open for Viewing New K?lauea Eruption

Matthew Patrick
USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Two fissures on the north and western wall of Halema‘uma‘u Crater are actively feeding a new lava lake at the summit. View from an HVO overflight on Dec 21.";s:

Crowds have gathered at Halema?uma?u Crater on the Big Island to catch a glimpse of the latest volcanic eruption at Kilauea. 

Pelehonuamea, the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes, returned to Halema?uma?u Crater Sunday night. Within the first 24 hours of the eruption, hundreds of visitors flocked to the Hawai?i Volcanoes National Park (HVNP).

Jessica Ferracane, HVNP spokeswoman, says current conditions at the park are safe for viewing. But that could change at any time.

“So there is hazardous volcanic gas which is billowing out of the crater right now and that could pose a danger to everyone,” says Ferracane, “The other things is there are earthquakes. There have been earthquakes happening yesterday, another 4.4-(magnitude earthquake). So people really need to stay on trails and stay out of closed areas. “

Geologist Matthew Patrick with the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, says scientists began seeing lava cascade from the walls of Halema?uma?u Crater shortly after 9:30pm Sunday.    

“What we see now is a number of fissures that have opened, producing lava fountains, sending lava into the base of the crater,” says Patrick, “In the first hour, it actually boiled off the water lake that had been there for over a year and replaced that with a lava lake.”

He says geologists are out in the field 24/7 monitoring the eruption and looking for any changes.

This is the first time lava has been present on the island since the 2018 eruption, which destroyed more than 700 homes and displaced hundreds of Puna residents. Hawai?i County Mayor Mitch Roth offered words of caution for those eagerly wanting to visit Pele any time soon.

“You know for the last 100 years, you know that’s where the lava has been and it’s good that its back home,” says Roth, “But we also want people to be safe and just realize that we aren’t through the woods with the COVID-19 yet.”

He urged everyone wear a mask and maintain social distance at all times to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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