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Contact: Jessica Ferracane, 808-985-6018
Hawaii National Park, Hawai'i - The lava lake within Halema'uma'u Crater at Kīlauea is tantalizing visitors and park staff as it continues its current trend of repetitive rising and falling, attracting many to the best vantage point: the overlook at Jaggar Museum.
Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory report that the lava lake rose to levels approximately 125 feet or less beneath the crater floor this morning, and HVO webcams today suggest the lake rose even higher, before sinking again this afternoon.
Dr. Jim Kauahikaua, HVO's Scientist-in-Charge, says the lava lake will be visible from the overlook at Jaggar Museum if it comes within about 65 feet of the crater floor. The lava lake reached its highest level today since forming after an explosive eruption on March 19, 2008.
Meanwhile, rangers urge park visitors to obey traffic signs and to be safe. Visitors are gathering at park overlooks after dark to view the dramatic glow that lava beneath the surface casts upon clouds and the plume of volcanic gas, hoping molten lava will rise high enough to be seen. The parking lot at Jaggar Museum is busy with hopeful observers, who are reminded to park only in marked stalls and heed all signs.
All visitors who plan to come after dark are urged to bring flashlights, especially those who park at Kīlauea Overlook, which affords panoramic views of the crater and Kīlauea caldera. Earth cracks, rocks, and other hazards are not easily seen in the dark.
In addition, several pairs of nēnē, the federally endangered Hawaiian goose, are beginning to nest, and are sometimes spotted along roadsides and trails. Cars are the leading cause of nēnē fatalities, and drivers are cautioned to be alert, and to drive the speed limit.
"Safety is our number one priority," said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. "We encourage everyone to visit during this fascinating episode, but to exercise caution. Staff will be assisting visitors with parking and interpretation of the current activities. If people come prepared and proceed as directed, they should have an unforgettable experience," she said.
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/havo. For webcams and daily Kīlauea status updates, visit the USGS HVO website, http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php.