December 26, 2008
Kilauea lava flow pauses for three days
The Kilauea volcano on the big island of Hawaii took a three-day break this week from its 26-year eruption.
Scientists said that lava stopped flowing at what is known as the Thanksgiving Eve Breakout on Monday and started up again on Christmas Eve, the Honolulu Advertiser reported Friday.
Jim Kauahikaua, head of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory of the U.S. Geological Survey, said that interruptions have become more common, although they are usually shorter than three days, and that scientists have not determined what causes them. Kilauea continued to emit sulfur gas through two vents and some tephra through one of the vents.
Kauahikaua said that the pauses in lava flow are sometimes -- but not always -- associated with inflation-deflation events when the summit of the volcano reduces in size and then reinflates.
We've looked but we don't understand the relationship, he said.
Kilauea, one of five shield volcanos on the island of Hawaii, began its current eruption in January 1983. The location of the lava flow shifted a year ago to the Thanksgiving Eve Breakout.
The eruption has added almost 600 acres to the largest of the Hawaiian islands while burying 191 structures and a nine-mile section of highway.