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Eruption Aftermath: Kilauea's Smoldering Fissures, Lava Spatter

Ground cracks between the east and west Kamoamoa fissure segments. The geologist in the picture is about 6 feet tall. (Image credit: USGS/HVO.)

Now that the spectacular fissure eruption has died down on Hawaii's Mount Kilauea, images show the huge cracks created and the lava spattered across the landscape.

Last week lava rocketed from a new fissure on Kilauea's east rift zone, between the Pu`u `? `? and N?pau craters. Volcanic craters are big holes created by volcanic activity. Magma can erupt through vents within craters.

Lava fountains from the northeastern vent of the Kamoamoa eruption on March 8. (Image credit: USGS/HVO.)

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A fissure is a split in a volcano that opens in a straight line. Kilauea's new fissure, called Kamoamoa, came after the floor of the Pu`u `? `? crater collapsed on March 5. [In Images: Hawaii's Mount Kilauea Erupts .]

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Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists found that the Pu`u `? `? crater floor dropped at least 377 feet (115 m) in a few hours during the collapse. The crater was seen smoldering at the end of last week.

Fume from Pu`u `? `? has diminished enough to see a portion of the rubble-filled crater floor. (Image credit: USGS/HVO.)

The fissures extend 1.4 miles (2.3 kilometers) between the N?pau crater and the Pu`u `? `? crater. Both the east and west Kamoamoa fissures are still fuming, but no lava is erupting.

The east and west Kamoamoa fissures are fuming. The Pu`u `? `? cone is fuming in the background. (Image credit: USGS/HVO.)

Periods of spattering lava were highlighted by gushers up to 80 feet (25 meters) high. Amazing images and video of the eruptions were captured by news outlets and the U.S. Geological Survey. Spatter now covers the ground and coats trees in the area.

Gobs of spatter solidified in the remaining trees. The spatter was erupted from the first fissure to open on March 5. (Image credit: USGS/HVO.)

A piece of spatter ejected on March 7, 2011. A handheld GPS is shown for scale. (Image credit: USGS/HVO.)

The fissure is located west-southwest of the Pu`u `? `? crater in a remote area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, parts of which have been closed since the eruptions began.

Lava recently sparked a wildfire in the park, and the blaze has torched 75 acres since Sunday (March 13), reported the Associated Press.

Email OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel at bisrael@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @btisrael.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.