May 25: End of the Road for Leilani Estates?

It looks like the coup de grace for Leilani Estates, or at least its eastern part.

USG Photo, May 25, noon overflight. Fissures 6 (left) and 13 (right) send lava flows south that join and flow down to ocean (white laze plume in distance). Note metal roof(?) embedded in lava at lower left. [Full-sized]
Three weeks ago Leilani’s streets were lacerated by fissures, battered by lava spattering from cracks, and blocked off by ponderous flows that seldom traveled far from their source. But that was a slow-motion disaster. Most fissures were active only a few hours. While a few unlucky residents lost homes in the first wave, most were able to return and collect vital possessions, or even risked dangerous fumes to stay.

Last week, the main lava activity shifted east, downrift, overrunning smaller Lanipuna Gardens, threatening the PGV geothermal plant, and inundating fields and woods where homes were more scattered.  “Hotter, fresher” magma arrived last Thursday with a roar, spurting in several-hundred foot fountains and flooding forests with rivers of fast-moving pahoehoe lava. On Saturday night, these channels reached the ocean.

It was only a reprieve. A few days ago, the fissures that had given Leilani grief began reactivating. The group of fountains monitored by HCB’s livestream began to subside as uprift vents pilfered their magma supply.  Leilani’s reinvigorated vents poured out so much lava they created a pond, as well as sending new flows down to the sea. And through people’s houses:

Today, more streets were buried. Firefighters went door-to-door urging the last holdouts to flee before lava reaches them. Even parts of lower Puna not yet menaced by lava were ordered to leave before their remaining escape routes are cut off. Just in case, authorities have sent in the Marines.

82 structures lost. A two mile stretch of fissures in a residential area is pouring out an astonishing 40-60 cubit feet per second. And yet only 3.4 square miles have been covered by lava in this eruption, on an island of over 4000 square miles. But that doesn’t make it any easier for those affected.

Below, a roundup of Friday’s images, videos, USGS news, and reports from local news stations.

Mick Kalber’s Daily Flyover

USGS News, Views and Updates:

Another view of that lava pond.

USGS photo, 6am: “Activity at fissure 6 this morning (May 25, 2018). Lava fountains have built a small spatter cone (black mound) from which lava was spilling out onto the surface and flowing into a small pond (left of cone).” [See full-sized photo]
Today’s barrage of Hawaii Civil Defense alerts, with Kilauea status alerts from the USGS, give some idea of the relentless march of lava over residential streets: (6:30am, 11am, 12:50pm, 2:30pm, 6pm).

USGS May 25 Conference Call on Eruption Status:

Wendy Stovall (paraphrased):
Same activity as past few days, pretty steady. LERZ is erupting loads of lava from several fissures. 7 & 21, eastern side of Leilani Estates, has produced a “broad pond,” covering a flow from 2 weeks ago. Two main lava channels to ocean being fed by other sources, a little east. Today, only two ocean entry points. Seismicity/deformation in LERZ is fairly slack.

USGS Map of Fissures, 2PM May 25. (Full-sized version)

Summit: Seismicity is up, 1-2 larger ash eruptions a day. Continuous plume from Halema’uma’u, either water vapor or occasional ash. Some ashfall affecting downwind communities. Deformation at summit: 1.3 meters subsidence.

[Voice on phone asks how destructive things getting in Leilani Estates?] Wendy Stovall explains that part of Leilani Estates is flat or slight depression. With no slope to travel down, lava fills up low-lying area. It’s inflating from below while crusting on top. “Like a rising tide, not like a river of lava like we’re seeing in the channelized areas.” [Check out above video at 4:20 to see this in action.]

Two of the three channels down to the sea yesterday have coalesced, making two ocean entry points. The plume of steam, hydrochloric acid, and glass particles continues to be a major hazard.

And yet even vog can make a rainbow (Friday, dawn):


Meanwhile, Halema’uma’u crater is steaming and smoking away.

Small summit explosions like those yesterday continue at Halema’uma’u crater, forcing geologists to stay far away. The largest explosion today was at  4:17pm, sending ash 12,000 feet. Downwind communities get dusted again.

Seismicity at the summit is increasing: 90 earthquakes between 8:30am and 2:30pm at summit. 19 quakes were over magnitude 3, and there was 4.4 magnitude at 12:44pm — which is nowhere near big enough to cause a tsunami even if it was on the ocean floor, which it isn’t.

NASA also posted a satellite infrared photo of the fissures from May 23:

NASA’s Operational Land Imager captured this infrared image of the fissures Tuesday night. See Full-sized view plus explanation.

And the ESA puts this in perspective with their own satellite imagery:


    • Another USGS article, “Ground and space-based monitoring reveal where magma has moved under Kilauea volcano” summarizes data gathered so far on eruption, including depths of moving magma, subsidence. “To date, geochemical analysis of erupted lava indicates that summit magma has not yet erupted from the LERZ fissures 1-23.” In other words, what’s come down the rift zone so far is only what drained from Pu’u O’o.
From HVO/USGS: “Illustration of Kilauea Volcano from the summit caldera to the Lower East Rift Zone. Blue arrows indicate contraction across the upper and middle rift zone as magma withdrew from this area and moved down the rift zone beginning on April 30, 2018. Black arrows indicate expansion across the rift zone as magma intruded into the LERZ; the area stopped widening on about May 18. Also, beginning in early May, magma began moving from the summit to the East Rift Zone.”

Is the magma draining from Halema’uma’u following behind?

@BJDeming found another several-year-old HVO article discussing the speed of lava:

And posted a Handy Guide to Volcano Vocab, explaining lava bombs, laze, and more.

Reports From Local News Outlets

  • HawaiiNewsNow: “Number of structures destroyed by lava soars to 82” covers the new outbreaks; firefighters going door-to-door warning residents who hadn’t heeded mandatory evacuation to get out before lava reaches their doorstep. 3.4 square miles of lower Puna coverd so far from fissures pumping out 40-60 cubic feet of lava per second.
    With Highway 137 cut by lava and 132 threatened, 130 is the only access route left to some coastal communities, and it’s only passable because of steel plates over hot cracks that show magma is moving underground. Video shows stretch of cracks, steel plates, and steam rising on both sides of highway:

#LeilaniEstatesEruption #KilaueaVolcano LATEST (May 25 at 5 PM): Right now, Highway 130 is the only way into and out of residential areas like Kalapana, Kaimu, Kehena, Seaview, Black Sands and Opihikao — as a result of the closure of Highway 137 from Pohoiki to Kamaili where lava continues to cross the roadway and pour into the ocean between Pohoiki Bay and the MacKenzie State Park. The Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Agency is monitoring Highway 130 closely for any potential changes in structural integrity or dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide release with consistent temperature and gas checks. Officials been able to maintain two lanes of traffic for now, but experts admit the situation could change at a moment’s notice as steam continues rising and cracks keep widening. If Highway 130 is somehow cut off — officials are preparing for the possibility of air evacuations with help from the Marine’s. Two Sea Stallion helicopters have been dispatched to Hawaiʻi Island. Flight crews are on standby 24 hours a day and are prepared to be wheels up within an hour. In the meantime, state transportation officials say they will try to keep Highway 130 open for as long as safely possible — but they want all residents who live in this area to be prepared. Stay tuned to @HawaiiNewsNow for the very latest developments #HInews #HawaiiNews #HNN #HawaiiNewsNow #WeAreYourSource

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Miscellaneous Photos and Video:

Eerie video of  lava in Leilani Estates Thursday night (May 24):

(Another video: what’s left of this area the next morning)

That link is one of many videos by “Apau Hawaii Tours,” who’s taken it upon himself to be a tour guide of the devastated neighborhood. (It’s people like this who give first responders headaches.)

HNN reporter Mileka Lincoln is still giving vital news updates by and for locals:

#LeilaniEstatesEruption #KilaueaVolcano UPDATE (May 25 at 10:45 AM): This picture of the proximity of lava to the Puna Geothermal Venture plant was taken about an hour ago by world-renown volcano photographer Brad Lewis who flew over #LeilaniEstates this morning. Lewis has been capturing images of Kīlauea and surrounding Puna communities since the 1983 eruption began — including the protests of PGV. Lewis writes: “Huge lava flows knocking on PGV’s door, as we knew it would over 30 years ago and hundreds were arrested to get our message across. They didn’t listen then and they are trying not to listen now. Perhaps Pele can get them to listen? Greed is deaf.” We’re waiting on the next update from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, but here’s what we know from their last release: “Fissure 22 continues to erupt lava that is flowing southeast to the coast and the lava ocean entry. Fountains at Fissures 6 and 13 feed lava into a channel that reached the coast yesterday forming a second ocean entry. Fissures 7 and 21 are feeding a perched lava pond and pāhoehoe flow that has advanced eastward covering most of the area bounded by Leilani Blvd, Mohala St., and the fissure line. Fissure 17 continues weak spattering, while Fissures 19 and 23 are no longer active. HVO field crews are on site tracking the fountains, lava flows, and spattering from multiple fissures as conditions allow and reporting information to Hawaii County Civil Defense. Volcanic gas emissions remain very high from the fissure eruptions. Magma continues to be supplied to the lower East Rift Zone. Earthquake activity continues, but earthquake locations have not moved farther downrift in the past few days and the number of located earthquakes remains low. Additional ground cracking and outbreaks of lava in the area of the active fissures are possible. Residents downslope of the region of fissures should heed all Hawaii County Civil Defense messages and warnings.” Stay tuned to @HawaiiNewsNow for the very latest developments #HInews #HawaiiNews #HNN #HawaiiNewsNow #WeAreYourSource (Photo: @gbradlewis)

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Last but not least, rivers of lava in Leilani Estates tonight. Remember, this is a residential neighborhood.

#LeilaniEstatesEruption #KilaueaVolcano #HappeningNow (May 25 at 7:45 PM): Intensifying fissure activity throughout #LeilaniEstates has officials reiterating that all residents should stay clear of the area. Officials confirm Mohala Street is no longer accessible due to the flow that has crossed Kahukai Street. Kaupili Street has not been cut off by the current flow. At 2:30 PM, the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Agency issued a warning to Leilani Estates residents who may have been inside the evacuation zone to either check on their properties or gather additional belongings alerting them of a fast-moving flow that was heading east toward Kaupili, Mohala and Kahukai Streets and telling them to “evacuate now”. We’re told Hawaiʻi County firefighters were also going door-to-door to ensure everyone had received notice. According to the last update from USGS HVO geologists in the field: “Fissure 22 continues to erupt lava that is flowing southeast to the coast where lava is entering the ocean. Fountains at Fissures 6 and 13 feed lava into a channel that also reaches the coast, making a second ocean entry. Fissure 7 and 21 are feeding a lava flow that has advanced northeastward crossing Kahukai St. at about 3:30 pm this afternoon and continuing to the northeast at a slow pace. Fissure 17 is barely active. HVO field crews are on site tracking the lava flows and spattering from multiple fissures as conditions allow and reporting information to Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense. Volcanic gas emissions have tripled as a result of the voluminous eruptions from the erupting fissures so SO2 concentrations are likely elevated to higher levels throughout the area downwind of the vents. Moderate trade winds today means that areas downwind of Kilauea gas emission sources may experience varying levels of vog.” Stay tuned to @HawaiiNewsNow for the very latest developments #HInews #HawaiiNews #HNN #HawaiiNewsNow #WeAreYourSource

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