May 16: Summit Ash and Small “Ballistics”

May 16, 8:36 AM, a 4.2 earthquake shook rocks from Halema’uma’u Overlook Crater’s walls that fell into the lava lake, caused an explosion, and sent (according to the USGS)  “dense ballistic blocks up to 60 cm (2 feet) across were found in the parking lot a few hundred yards from Halemaumau.”

USGS photo of “ballistic rocks” found in parking lot next to Halema’uma’u Crater, INSIDE Kilauea Caldera, morning of May 16

Here they be. They’re ballistic, in that they soar up and down like a cannonball, with the chimney above the lava lake acting sort of like a vertical cannon. But contrary to several headlines I saw, these rocks are not refrigerator-sized.

There is light ash dusting the area and turning it into a moonscape.


May 16: HVO Raises Aviation Color Code to Red

Media freaked out overnight when Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory issued a code red alert following a 12,000 foot tall ash explosion at the summit. The next morning they clarified:

USGS Volcanologist Michelle Coombs (EXCERPT):

So we’ve had some questions about what code red means. It sounds a little bit alarming, It’s really just to say that we see significant amounts of ash from this ongoing activity, and to warn aviators about that ash. It doesn’t mean that a really big eruption is imminent. it’s really just characterizing the aviation situation.