Despite activity waning at Kilauea volcano, eruptions could return at any moment as residents are warned the volcano may just be going through a break in eruptions and could reactivate again.
However the US Geological Survey said the volcano has remained “quiet for over a week” and no further collapse events have been recorded at the summit.
Although a small, crusted-over pond of lava has formed deep inside fissure 8 and there are a “few scattered ocean entries”, there is no lava flowing in the lower East Rift Zone (LERZ).
The USGS said this could either be a temporary lull or the end of Kilauea’s eruption completely.
In a statement reported released on Tuesday, the USGS said: “It is too soon to tell if this change represents a temporary lull or the end of the LERZ eruption and/or summit collapse activity.
“In 1955, similar pauses of 5 and 16 days occurred during an 88-day-long LERZ eruption. During the Mauna Ulu eruption (1969-1974), a 3.5 month pause occurred in late 1971.”
Fissure 8 is still producing a small amount of lava but it is not entering the existing channel.
If there is a new resupply of magma, it could lead to the reactivation of fissures other than fissure 8 or the opening of brand new fissures in the lower East Rift Zone.
A gas plume continue to billow from the fissure 8 cone and the small lava pond inside the cone is moving at a sluggish rate within its confines.
The USGS cautioned residents to not get complacent during the break in eruptions.
The USGS said on Monday: “It is common for eruptions to go through periods of diminished output, or to pause completely, only to return with renewed vigour days or weeks later.
“Resumption of the activity on the LERZ could occur at any time and residents should remain informed and heed Hawaii County Civil Defense messages and warnings.”
As of Monday, the only “red” lava visible was oozing into the ocean between Kapoho Bay and the Ahlanui coastline.
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions were at low levels at the summit and LERZ, although high levels of SO2 may persist in downwind areas.
The USGS said winds have blown the plumes towards populated areas and many people reported smelling sulfur.
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists said it could be weeks or months before the organisation is comfortable declaring the eruption as being over.
Kilauea began erupting on May 3 and has been relentless ever since and so residents will be relieved, if just for now, activity is waning.