February 1997

February 2: The eruption has stopped, the summit is inflating slowly and all is quiet. Bets are on as to whether it starts up again at Napau, closer to Puu Oo, at the summit, or if it is over altogether.

February 8: Reports from Park archaeologists (trying to do some quick reconnaissance in case the whole area gets buried) of loud booms coming from the Napau area. Some seismic signal shows up at HVO: geologists determine that rockfalls on the rim of Napau crater are partly responsible, but also observe that the bottom of the graben, which had filled up with lava on January 31, has disappeared!

February 11: Some excitement as the volcano "burps" - tremor and rapid inflation at the summit that quickly dies away. We're still waiting....


" reminds me of that scene in "Aliens" in which the scientists are all standing on one side of the door with their hand-held bio-detector instrument that tells them when the life form is 20 feet away, 15 feet, 10 feet, and all of a sudden it tells them it's 2 feet away and they know that can't be right because the door itself is over 2 feet away--and then they all look up at the ceiling and realize the slimy little arachnoids are in the air duct above their heads. Ya gotta give Madame Pele credit, she's sure keeping everyone guessing!"

Darcy Bevens, Univ. of Hawaii, Hilo

February 24: Return of the Lava Lake? Lava has been spotted again! Helicopter reports of lava burbling back into the Pu'u O'o pit, way, way down there.... It has been strange for many island residents to see Pu'u O'o without its constant plume, though the improvement in air quality has been noticeable. Strangely enough, there was no obvious seismic signal related to the restart. Mike Lisowski of HVO says that their ground deformation studies show that a great deal more magma moved deep into that part of the rift zone (judging from the bulge of the south flank) than can be accounted for by the deflation of the summit and what erupted January 31. So we know there's lots of lava down there somewhere - the question is still: how much of it will we see on the surface?

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