The eruption at Kīlauea is still captivating the nation, as it should because this volcano hasn’t behaving like this in almost a century. I thought I’d take a moment to step back and review of the main events so far and what it might all mean for Kīlauea and the people who live around the volcano. These eruptions are separated by a long way if you look at the satellite data and should almost be treated at two different events..
Also, here’s today’s CivilDefense briefing and BigIslandVideonews’ splice of afternoon USGS briefing with geologist Carolyn Parcheta plus recent video footage.
Taking from video (basically telling us which fissures are doing what):
The first two weeks of sputtering fissures, slow-moving flows were prelude. Thursday night, the rivers and fountains of runny pahoehoe lava arrived. Today, Saturday afternoon, the overflight videos are historic.
From USGS (loud helicopter):
Fissures 16-20 joined up this Saturday and are marching towards the ocean, expected to cross Highway 137 tonight. Civil defense warns to keep away from ocean entry, if/when the lava reaches the shore, to avoid “laze.”
From Mick Kalber:
I have no words.
Well, okay, I do. I hope everyone down there is safely away. It’s been a hard day for a bunch of people who can’t go home now.
Yep, Rusty the Rooster is still trying to tell us it’s morning.
However, despite using a still from dawn Friday morning showing Fissure 17 at its most glorious, its cinder cone is now much higher than it is.
Friday night it was incredibly spectacular, but by Saturday the group of combined fountains at Fissure 20 had taken the spotlight, sending vast amounts of Pahoehoe down to the ocean. That said, 17 continued be loud; it’s the one that sounds like a thundering detonation or jet engine in short, loud bursts.
I wasn’t going to do this, because hazard information is best left to emergency officials and experts.
But I don’t want the videos and images I’m sharing to mislead people into thinking this event is larger-scale than it is. It’s overwhelming to those who have lost homes or had to evacuate. I don’t want to downplay what they’re going through. At the same time, major hazards are confined to a very limited area, yet news media are whipping this up to apocalyptic proportions and tossing out headlines with “fears” and “anxieties” and “major” to scare people. I don’t want to add to their hype. A volcanic eruption one can watch from a few miles away without dying is moderate, not major.
So let me try to give a rundown of Kilauea hazards, and why I think it’s not greedy nor crazy for officials to be urging tourists not to cancel their visits.
USGS reports another explosion last night: “At 11:58 PM Local time, a short-lived explosion at from Halema’uma’u created an ash cloud that reached up to 10,000 ft asl and was carried southwest by the wind. Possible trace ash fall may have occurred along Highway 11.”
I’m not sure whether this was a steam explosion, or just yet another of these rockfall-triggered ashclouds, like this one in 2011:
Hawaii Volcano Observatory is so lucky to have one of the foremost experts in explosive eruptions, Don Swanon, who worked on St Helens so long ago and uncovered Kilauea’s explosive history after transferring to HVO in the 90s.
Experts on this active volcano gathered to share what they know- and what they have discovered is Kilauea has a history of explosive ash eruptions. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Don Swanson sums, “For the past 2,500 years we’ve had explosions more than 50% of the time, so this is the norm for Kilauea. But most of the explosions are minor, like we saw today, with small plumes of ash and steam rising from the summit.”