The picture was published by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park across its social media platforms. The caption accompanying the image reads: “Just how deep is the growing water lake in Halemaʻumaʻu crater?
“A ten-story building could disappear into its depths.
“Within the massive crater it may look small, but perspective is everything.
“The lake is roughly 150 feet (46 m) deep and 885 feet (270 m) long.”
The lake, located inside the Halemaʻumaʻu crater, is found atop Kīlauea.
Kīlauea is currently one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
In 2018, the Halemaʻumaʻu crater sank by almost 1,600 feet during an eruption.
According to NASA Earth Observatory, “in May 2018, as part of a broader eruption that poured lava from fissures to the east, the lake swiftly drained and part of the caldera floor collapsed.
A year later, in July 2019, the lake appeared in the lowest part of the crater.
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Just how deep is the growing water lake in Halemaʻumaʻu crater? A ten-story building could disappear into its depths. Within the massive crater it may look small, but perspective is everything. The lake is roughly 150 feet (46 m) deep and 885 feet (270 m) long. USGS Photo/M. Patrick
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Helicopter pilots were the first to notice this phenomenon as they flew over Kīlauea’s summit.
NASA Earth Observatory added: “Water levels have risen steadily ever since.
“Today, the lake—now with a rusty brown sheen on its surface due to chemical reactions taking place in the water—has an area larger than five football fields combined and a maximum depth of roughly 30 meters (100 feet).”
Don Swanson, a volcanologist at the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory explained how the water kept accumulating forming a pond.
He said: “We have a drill hole a little more than one kilometre south of the crater where we measure the level of the water table.
“We know that the crater floor dropped a little more than 70 meters below the water table in 2018.
“Any time that you punch a hole below the level of the water table, water is eventually going to come in and fill that hole.”
Explosive volcanic eruptions are determined by water and other gases.
If magma is mixed with dissolved gases and steam an eruption may happen.
Otherwise, lava flows smoothly from cracks on the ground, which is what has happened at Kilauea for the past 200 years.
But 60 percent of the time Kilauea has erupted explosively for the past 2,500 years.
Mr Swanson said: “We have been misled by how calm it has been.
“If this was 1720 rather than 2020, then we would we would not have seen a lava flow for more than 200 years, and we may have thought Kilauea was always an explosive volcano.”
Explaining in which two cases an explosive eruption could happen, Mr Swanson added: “In one case, magma could rise quickly up the conduit and intersect with the lake.
“In the second, the crater floor could collapse and drop all of the water down to a zone where it would be quickly heated into steam.”
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