Quick Summary of 2018 Kilauea Eruption

Haven’t been following Kilauea eruption news? This June 14 video from the National Park Service will bring you up to speed.

Or, if you have ~10 minutes to spare, this excellent history of Kilauea’s eruptions from the 1950s up to June 25, 2018 is worth watching, if nothing else for the clips of 1000-foot lava fountains in the 50s and 60s.

My blog is a daily digest of recent photos, videos, geology and local news stories about what’s happening at Kilauea Volcano. (Recommended post: Changes to Halema’uma’u)

July 14: Aloha to Pohoiki

July 14, 2018. USGS: ” Early morning view of fissure 8 and lava channel looking toward the east. Laze plume from the ocean entry is visible in distance (left of the fissure 8 plume). Geologists did not observe activity from any of the other fissures during this morning’s overflight.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

The Lower East Rift Zone eruption has settled back into a routine. Unfortunately, that routine includes the far end of Fissure 8’s lava flow crawling south along the coast, eating landmarks in its path. Isaac Hale Park/Pohoiki boat ramp (see flow map) is next in line. The morning USGS overflight reported that the flow front was about 1km away.

Friday evening, July 13, 2018, 6:00 pm – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: Lava continues to pour into the sea at…

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Saturday, July 14, 2018

That little island is still there this morning.

Fissure 8 continues to erupt into its perched channel, with its volume surging after yesterday’s 7:08pm summit collapse (Mag 5.3) and returning to lower levels by morning. That pulse caused a brief overflow on the east/southeast of the channel a short way downstream from the vent, but it stayed on the apron of previous flows.

The channelized a’a flow west of Kapoho Crater continues to be the main conduit to the ocean and to the active flow expanding southwards along the shore. North of this, lava continues to “ooze out” at various points along the June-early July flow front, whose length now totals 6km  (3.7 miles).

July 14, 2018. USGS: “White laze plumes mark locations where lava enters the ocean over a broad area. An open lava channel flows into the ocean at the southern-most plume (middle) near the southern flow margin. The boat ramp at Pohoiki is about 940 m (0.58 mi) farther south of the flow margin. View is toward the west-southwest.” (Full-sized)

While there’s no sign of activity at any fissures besides 8, the tiny island that popped up just offshore of Kapoho yesterday is still there for now.

Continue reading July 14: Aloha to Pohoiki

July 13: Hawai’i Has a New Island (For Now)

July 13, 2018. USGS: “A tiny new island of lava has formed on the northernmost part of the ocean entry. During this morning’s overflight, HVO’s field crew noticed the island was oozing lava similar to the lava oozing from the broad flow front along the coastline.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

Fissure 8’s lava flow has settled into its new course, turning right just before Kapoho Cone and proceeding south-southeast to the ocean in a strong channelized a’a flow. Some lava, apparently following the earlier paths (lava tubes, maybe?) to the sea, is still squeezing out of the broad 6km (3.7) mile lava delta to the north of the new ocean entry.

A fascinating footnote: while the northern “ooze-outs” are weakening, a tiny lava island popped up just offshore of them last night, and it is itself oozing lava:

July 13, 2018. USGS: “A closer view of the new “island,” which was estimated to be just a few meters offshore, and perhaps 6-9 meters (20-30 ft) in diameter. It’s most likely part of the fissure 8 flow that’s entering the ocean—and possibly a submarine tumulus that built up underwater and emerged above sea level.” (Full-sized)

Fissure 22 has stopped spattering. However, many inactive fissures were steaming today, “possibly due to the increasing humidity in the area.”

Today’s summit collapse occurred at 7:06pm HST, with the energy equivalent of a 5.3 earthquake, as usual. HVO is setting up a new livestream from Volcano House, but it’s not fully operational yet, so we made do with the ailing HVO webcam today (video clip).

July 13, 2018. USGS: “View of Halema‘uma‘u and Kīlauea caldera just before 8:00 a.m. HST today, as seen from HVO’s observation point near Volcano House. Gusty winds were blowing quite a lot of rock-fall dust, visible both within and along the rim of the crater.” (Full-sized)

It’s been fascinating watching geologists collect data, figure things out, and incorporate these discoveries into their daily Kilauea alerts. Just as the HVO team  started predicting the summit’s cyclical collapse/explosions, now they’ve started predicting (or at least watching for) Fissure 8’s lava surges and possible spillovers a few hours after each summit collapse. Sure enough:

Also, we’ve got a new view of ever-expanding Halema’uma’u Crater in Kilauea’s summit caldera this morning:

July 13, 2018. USGS: “USGS scientists captured this stunning aerial photo of Halema‘uma‘u and part of the Kīlauea caldera floor during a helicopter overflight of Kīlauea’s summit this morning. In the lower third of the image, you can see the buildings that housed the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s Jaggar Museum, the museum parking area, and a section of the Park’s Crater Rim Drive. Although recent summit explosions have produced little ash, the drab gray landscape is a result of multiple thin layers of ash that have blanketed the summit area during the ongoing explosions.” (Full-sized)

I couldn’t find a comparable aerial photo with the observatory and Jaggar in shot, but this 2009 photo of Halema’uma’u is facing in approximately the same direction. (Look for Crater Rim Rd behind the crater on the left, and note the parking lot obscured by the lava lake’s plume in 2009— lava lake, parking lot, and part of that road collapsed into the crater in June.)

Continue reading July 13: Hawai’i Has a New Island (For Now)

July 12: Explosive Ahalanui Ocean Entry

July 11, 2018, 6:00 pm – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: The large channelized flow to the west of Kapoho Crater,…

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Thursday, July 12, 2018

Today’s Eruption Summary

Sadly, yesterday afternoon was the end of Kua O Ka La Charter School and Ahalanui Warm Ponds. The flow that diverted west of Kapoho Crater created a channelized a’a flow all the way to the ocean. There is now a strong ocean entry at what used to be Ahalanui Beach Park. There are still multiple “ooze-outs” along the northern lava flow front spanning former Kapoho Bay— it’s now 6 km, 3.7 miles across— “despite no visible surface connection to the fissure 8 channel.”

[Below: USGS 6am overflight, July 12: Fissure 8 perched lava channel, new diverted channel around Kapoho Crater, Ahalanui ocean entry.]

The level of Fissure 8’s lava river was low above Pohoiki Rd in the hours before the summit collapse. USGSVolcanoes posted at 7:17pm today that they observed an increase in Fissure 8 activity following the 2:42pm summit collapse (mag 5.3, here’s video), raising its level again. But there were no overflows, apart from some “small channel breaches south of the ocean entry.”

Speaking of the ocean entry, Bruce Omori of @HotSeatHawaii captured a startling offshore laze/steam/lava explosion just offshore:

USGS field teams reported “no visible activity” at Fissure 22 or any other fissures besides 8.

Today, USGS also posted a 3-month timelapse of Halema’uma’u from the HVO panorama cam, April 14-July 11:

This is another busy news day.

Continue reading July 12: Explosive Ahalanui Ocean Entry

July 10: Steve Brantley USGS Talk at Pahoa Meeting

Transcript of Steve Brantley’s Tuesday evening presentation at the weekly community meeting, July 10, 2018.

Steve Brantley (HVO/USGS): Well, good evening. Thank you for turning out. I worked really hard this afternoon to prepare my very best presentation for you tonight, and lo and behold, somehow it didn’t end up on my jump drive. So for that, I apologize. And what I’ll do is basically recount the presentation, but you’ll have to— we can refer to the map up here.

July 10, 2018, noon USGS map of lava flows. (Full-sized)

So the overall picture is that the activity at Fissure 8 has not fundamentally changed. A high rate of lava is still being erupted, and we really haven’t noticed a change in that rate. At the summit, the volcano continues to subside very slowly over time, and periodically— now about once every 30 hours, or almost every day— the ground drops as much as two and a half meters or so in each drop, and results in a ground shaking that’s equivalent to about a magnitude 5 event.

Continue reading July 10: Steve Brantley USGS Talk at Pahoa Meeting

July 11: Overflows and More Homes/Landmarks Lost

July 11, 2018. USGS: “A pāhoehoe flow fed by overflows from the fissure 8 lava channel was active along Nohea Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision this morning.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

Quite a lot happened today in the LERZ. Fissure 8 started overflowing again about 8:30-9am this morning. Unfortunately, some spillouts on the north side extended past the edges of previous flows, destroying three more homes in Leilani Estates, two on Luana St, one on Nohea.

Another blockage just west of Kapoho Crater last night diverted much of the main lava channel around the west side of the crater’s cone, rejoining the main flow field on the other side. It created a channelized a’a flow which skirted the southern edge of the existing lava field, and was a quarter mile from the coast and Ahalanui Warm Pond by noon.  [Update 10pm HST: I’m seeing several unconfirmed reports on social media that it and Kua O Ka La Charter School were taken by lava late Wednesday afternoon or early evening.]

However, some lava is still being supplied to earlier ocean entry areas, either by still-molten lava that’s permeated the lava delta, or by a lesser supply of new lava following the old route around Kapoho Crater. This lava is working on building a point (it’s still not the easternmost point of the island, although the angle of the left-hand photo makes it appear so):

[full-sized left photo] [full-sized right photo]

Interestingly, today’s tardy summit collapse at 5:46am (M5.3 as usual) seems to have had some effect upon Fissure 8. There’s been speculation that might be occurring, but it wasn’t confirmed until now. According to the HVO update: “The collapse/explosive event this morning was followed by an increase in lava from the fissure 8 vent which has produced small overflows from the upper channel that are threatening a few homes on Nohea and Luana streets.”

July 11, 2018. USGS— in fact this is another Don Swanson photo, according to the FB caption: “A telephoto view of the eastern edge of Halema‘uma‘u taken just two minutes after today’s (July 11) 5:45 a.m. HST collapse explosion event. Steam is intermixed with minor ash that imparts a pinkish-brown color to the plume. The energy released by the event was equivalent to a magnitude-5.3 earthquake.” (Full-sized)

Fissure 22 continues to sputter quietly and intermittently, so the sluggish flow it was emitting a week or so ago has cooled.

July 11 LERZ Lava Flow Map
July 11, 2018. USGS map of LERZ lava flows as of 1pm. Full-sized)

Continue reading July 11: Overflows and More Homes/Landmarks Lost

July 3 Steve Brantley Slideshow at Pahoa Meeting

[Note: this is when the overflows around Kapoho Crater got started, but the main flow front/ocean entry was still mostly north.]

I was hoping NLTV would post a video of last Tuesday evening’s Pahoa Community meeting as they usually do, since BigIslandVideoNews records Steve Brantley’s slideshows by pointing the camera at him and skipping most of the slides, but no such luck.

BIVN posted various excerpts of the meeting, including these non-geology segments: Live poll, Hwy 130 Reopening Discussed, Residents question Civil Defense. 

Here’s Steve Brantley’s USGS presentation:

Transcript

Steve Brantley, Deputy Scientist-in-Charge of HVO:

Continue reading July 3 Steve Brantley Slideshow at Pahoa Meeting

July 10: Regrouping After Yesterday’s Overflows

USGS: “View from Bryson’s quarry around 11:45 p.m. HST last night looking uprift past Halekamahina (an older ash cone) to fissure 8, which is creating the glow behind the cone. Bright areas indicate incandescent lava, with the brightest areas showing the trace of the lava channel. A blockage in the channel produced overflows that are seen as spotty incandescence. Lava flows in the foreground are near the base of the quarry cinder pit.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

The chaos of yesterday has settled down a bit. Stormy weather has moved out, most of the overflows up-channel from Kapoho Crater have stopped, and lava is has returned to the main channel leading to the ocean, although not at the same volume as before. Yesterday’s breakout flow towards Cinder Road stalled last night. As of 4AM this morning, the only overflows still active were on the south (brown) side of the lava channel, including a new side-flow on the west side of Kapoho Crater (ocean is in the background haze):

July 10, 2018, morning overflight. USGS: “Aerial view of Kapoho Crater looking toward the south-southeast. Part of the lava channel became blocked just upstream of Kapoho Crater yesterday, diverting flows to the west and then south around the crater (center right). Lava exiting a crusted section of the channel continued flowing in the channel pathway (lower center to left).” (Full-sized)

It sounds like the southern edge of the ocean entry area has stalled too, giving Ahalanui Pond a respite (although the lava’s very, very close). But the northern side has continued to ooze as well. Today’s report from the mayor’s office said two of the the three remaining Kapoho Beach Lots homes were lost to lava in the past day or so.

There’s still multiple “ooze out” fingers along the edge of the delta in addition to the main channel. And Fissure 22 continues to sputter weakly.

July 10, 2018. USGS: “Fissure 8 and a full lava channel as seen during HVO’s early morning overflight. The visible road is Nohea Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision. Steam generated from heated rain water rose from the tephra deposits and lava flows surrounding fissure 8.” (Full-sized)

As of 10pm HST, we’re still waiting for the next collapse/explosion at the summit. (Should we be calling them explosions any more, or just collapses?)

In the meantime, the USGS has updated the caldera subsidence timelapse from Keanakāko‘i Overlook:

Continue reading July 10: Regrouping After Yesterday’s Overflows

June 9: Fissure 8 Rearranges the Furniture

July 9, 2018. USGS: “Lava entering the ocean as seen through steam and rain early this morning.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

Wild weather, overflows and significant channel reorganization have made the Lower East Rift Zone more interesting today than those living near Bryson’s cinder pit would like.

July 9, 2018. USGS: “This photograph taken during this morning’s overflight shows heavy, localized rain at fissure 8 in Leilani Estates.” (Full-sized)

Sunrise overflights by the USGS and @hotseathawaii spotted a torrential downpour centered directly over the upper lava flow (above). A rain gauge in Leilani Estates measured 9.22″ rainfall at 7am for the past 24 hours; another just a little farther away measured 6″ over the same span. All that updraft, convection and condensation even produced a modest… lavaspout…? captured on video (strong language warning):

The Kapoho end of the LERZ eruption was even more chaotic. Over the weekend, several non-USGS sources had reported that lava was starting to shift back to the south after passing Kapoho Crater, forming a slow-moving flow headed for Ahalanui Ponds (and sparing 3 of the 4 remaining Kapoho Beach Lots houses). This morning, HVO status updates confirmed the change: “The main lava channel has reorganized and is nearly continuous to the ocean on the south side of the flow, expanding the south margin by several hundred meters.” Also, while the ocean entry was still a very broad 2.5 mile front at sunrise, it’s started to coalesce a bit and shift towards the south:

July 9, 2018 (later in the morning; can’t be afternoon because of sun position). USGS: “Sourthern end of the active fissure 8 flow margin north of the Analannui Park [sic], known as the warm ponds. The flow margin is estimated to be about 500 m (0.3 mi) from the park.” (Full-sized)
However, blockages in the braided section of the lava river caused further havoc later in the day. HVO’s afternoon status update reported that, “Early this afternoon, observers reported multiple overflows occurring along both sides of the main lava channel, in an area extending from near the ‘Y’ intersection at Pohoiki Road eastwards to an area just west of Kapoho Crater. Overflows on the upper part of the channel did not extend beyond areas previously covered in lava. Overflows further down the channel have reached beyond the flow field, including one flow lobe that is moving northeast from the main channel towards Cinder Rd.”

July 9, 2018. USGS: “The lower section of the fissure 8 lava channel appears to be almost completely crusted over, and the lava level in the channel was lower during this morning’s overflight.” (Full-sized)

[HVO afternoon status update cont’d] “Based on information from ground observers and morning and afternoon overflights, the lower part of the main lava channel has undergone significant reorganization. In particular, the channel that had been open near Four Corners is now mostly crusted over, and plumes from ocean entry are significantly reduced. It is likely this is due to a blockage that formed in the early morning in the main channel upstream of Kapoho Crater. Flow volumes coming out of Fissure 8 remain significant, and it is possible that changes in flow channels will continue to occur in the coming days.”

Meanwhile, up at the summit, it’s business as usual. This morning’s collapse event occurred at 9:20am, registering once again as 5.3:

USGS posted yesterday’s thermal map first thing this morning, plus a 2pm map today showing these changes:

Continue reading June 9: Fissure 8 Rearranges the Furniture

July 9: USGS Morning Conference Call

Oh good. Tina Neal herself dropped by today (I think she did some of the early ones, but she’s been understandably busy).

Here’s my transcript of this morning’s 11AM media briefing with USGS, NHS, NPS.

  • Tina Neal, USGS, Scientist-in-Charge of HVO
  • John Bradenburg, NHS
  • Jessica Ferracane, Public Affairs, HVNP
  • Janet Babb, USGS/HVO

Tina Neal, HVO: Good morning, everyone. Just to give you an update on what’s going on at Kilauea Volcano. In the Lower East Rift Zone, the effusive eruption of lava continues with little significant change from the last few days. The Fissure 8 spatter cone continues to produce a pretty vigorous river of lava in an open channel that heads to the northeast and then turns southeast, then enters the ocean about 8 miles downflow.

One of the interesting things observed by our field crews during the overflight this morning is that the channel system in the lower portion of this lava flow where it ends up into the ocean has gone through some changes. And this is an interesting phenomenon, reorganization, that we’re trying to understand. It appears at times that the channel is very vigorous all the way to the ocean, and at other times it sort of diminishes and just becomes a broad, rubbly front. As of this morning, the channel was mostly on the southern side of the flow, and the margin of the flow is expanding a little bit to the south. So there’s some very interesting channel dynamics going on in this lava flow in the lower portion that really doesn’t [act??] its behavior as it spreads out and enters the ocean.

Continue reading July 9: USGS Morning Conference Call

July 8: Ahalanui Warm Pond, School Under Lava Threat

Today’s Eruption Summary

The LERZ continues as usual, although there are tantalizing hints that change could be on the way:

July 8, 2018. USGS: “Fissure 8 (lower right) and open lava channel leading to the northeast. Geologists noted small lava-level fluctuations in the open channel overnight, which indicates intermittent variations in lava discharge from fissure 8. An increase in lava levels was noted about 1.5 hours after the collapse-explosion event at the volcano’s summit at 02:55 a.m. HST. Evidence of a couple of recent, short-lived channel overflows were observed early this morning, but they had not reached the edge of the flow field. The small steam plumes in distance mark locations of fissures that erupted in early May at the beginning of the ongoing eruption.” (Full-sized)

Fissure 8 gushes within its large cone, Fissure 22 continues to spatter weakly. The open lava channel from Fissure 8 now ends about 2km (1.2 mi) from the coast:

July 8, 2018. USGS: ” View of the partially filled Kapoho Crater (center) and the open lava channel where it makes a 90-degree turn around the crater. The open channel no longer directly enters the ocean. Lava flows freely through the channel only to the southern edge of Kapoho Crater (left side of image). Clearly, lava moves into and through the molten core of the thick ‘a‘ā flow across a broad area from both the sides and end of the channel.” (Full-sized)

From the end of the channel, the lava dives under the crust of the slightly older flows that buried Kapoho Bay. It emerges again along a very broad ocean entry:

July 18,2018. USGS: “Multiple ocean entries were active this early morning, each contributing to the prominent “laze” plume above the area. Lava moves from the open channel through the molten core of the broad ‘a‘ā flow field to the ocean. Kapoho Crater is at middle right of photo.” (Full-sized)

According to USGS/HVO, the ocean entry is “primarily along the northern section,” as it has been for the past few weeks. However, to judge by today’s @hotseasthawaii overflight, there’s notable ocean entries to the south as well. Besides the lava that reaches the ocean, USGS reported lava “oozing out” to the north and southwest of the main a’a field just inland, as one can see on Friday’s thermal map. A few Kapoho Beach Lots houses are hanging on, threatened by the northern “ooze-out.” The southwestern “ooze-out” — several local photographers have reported an unconfirmed  “southern lobe” lava flow— is within a few hundred yards of Ahalanai Warm Pond and Kua O Ka La Charter School:

Screencap from early morning July 8 HotseatHawaii overflight. Ahalanui Warm Pond is just at the end of that straight stretch of Hwy 137, and the school is the light-colored patch just to the right of it. (Full-sized)

The most recent summit collapse event occurred at 2:55am HST, July 8, with an energy release of M5.4.

Italy’s Cosmo-Skymed satellite sent down another radar image of Kilauea caldera today:

July 8, 2018. USGS: “This animated GIF shows a sequence of radar amplitude images that were acquired by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana CosmoSkyMed satellite system. The images illustrate changes to the caldera area of Kīlauea Volcano that occurred between May 5 and July 8 at about 6:00 a.m. HST. […] The most recent radar scene, from July 8, shows continued motion along cracks over a broader area of the caldera floor, extending east of Halema’uma’u (these cracks are the scarps seen in recent photographs from the Keanakākoʻi overlook area).” (Full-sized)
Continue reading July 8: Ahalanui Warm Pond, School Under Lava Threat