- Associated Press - Thursday, March 10, 2011

HONOLULU (AP) - Kilauea volcano’s latest eruption has decreased in activity and taken a breather from spewing out lava.

The Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory said Thursday that the Kamoamoa fissure eruption that started five days ago “paused” by 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, with lava starting to recede from the channels a few hours earlier. Seismic activity and sulfur dioxide levels are also down but remain above normal.

“Our take is that it’s paused,” volcanologist Janet Babb said. “We’re not using the word ‘stopped.’”

Kamoamoa has paused before, and the break can last anywhere from hours to days, Babb said. Scientists headed back to the remote east rift zone Thursday to see if the eruption had restarted.

Kamoamoa has been furiously unleashing loads of lava and gasses since the fissure cracked open Saturday. Lava shot as high as 100 feet and low-level fountains created several fiery lava flows, blanketing more than 120 acres.

Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been in constant eruption since Jan. 3, 1983. The latest eruption is in the same area of the east rift where it started 28 years ago.

Because of the volcanic activity, the National Park Service has closed the Chain of Craters Road and all east rift and coastal trails, along with a campground until further notice. However, the park’s most popular overlooks and summit trails remain open.

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