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VIDEO: New Kilauea volcano vent opens with 80-foot lava spatter as Puu Oo crater floor collapses

Lava fissure spattering between Kilauea volcano's Puu Oo and Napau craters at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on March 6. (Click to enlarge.) Photo: USGS

The floor of Kilauea volcano’s Puu Oo crater collapsed in an explosion of ash and fumes this weekend at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as lava began spattering as high as 80 ft. from a new fissure two miles away.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists reported that the Puu Oo vent collapse event began at around 2:16 p.m. on Saturday, creating a large ash and fume cloud over the vent as magma withdrew from the disintegrating crater floor. Over the next two hours, geologists reported seeing lava and incandescent fractures on the collapsing Puu Oo vent floor until ash and fumes obscured views.

But that was hardly the end of the drama.

At 5:15 p.m., an HVO geologist observing the Puu Oo crater collapse by air, reported eruptive activity at nearby Napau Crater. A small fissure had apparently opened only minutes earlier, in a forested area about two miles west of Puu Oo, producing low-level lava fountains along a 535-yard long crack in the earth.

The eruptive activity along the fissure paused at around 10 p.m. Saturday evening, continuing only intermittently through Sunday morning. Two more fissures opened in the vicinity on Sunday morning, erupting sporadically throughout the day with lulls in activity occasionally punctuated by lava spattering up to 80 feet into the air.

HVO scientist reported on Sunday that the floor of Puu Oo crater had dropped at least 377 feet during Saturday's collapse.

Check out this weekend's sequence of events in the photos and videos below, courtesy of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory:

An ash cloud rises from Puu Oo crater on Saturday as its floor collapses due to magma withdrawl. (Click on photo to enlarge.) Photo: USGS

A remnant of the pre-collapse crater floor is revealed as incandescent rubble descends into the collapsing vent. (Click on photo to enlarge.) Photo: USGS

The new fissure opens on Saturday afternoon in a forested area between Puu Oo crater (seen in the background) and Napau Crater producing lava spatter that rises above the treeline. (Click on photo to enlarge). Photo: USGS

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR VIDEO. The new fissure extends from the forest into older tephra area on Saturday about 10 minutes after eruptive activity began. Video: USGS.

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR VIDEO. Lava spatter from the new fissure, which began only moments before the video was shot. Thick white steam from the crack in the foreground is a sign that lava is about to reach the surface. Video: USGS.


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