May 28: Rivers of Fire, Lava Livestream is back

Today’s Eruption Summary

About 7PM yesterday, a large pahoehoe flow suddenly burst out and went galloping through Leilani Estates. Civil Defense called for emergency evacuations. Firefighters had to guide one person to safety (with assistance of drone team tracking lava) when the flow covered his drivewayUSGS and Civil Defense reported that vigorous fountains 7 and especially 8 were responsible for the outbreak: fountaining 150-200 feet high, they built up a spatter rampart 100 feet tall and fueled a monster pahoehoe 20-40 feet thick. Speed augmented by the perched lava pond breaching (dam gave way, basically).

You can get a sense of last night’s outbreak from this timelapse of the Lower East Rift Zone webcam over the past few days.

The flows from yesterday slowed and stopped this morning. Most of the day’s activity was fairly subdued, with “only a minor ooze of residual lava” making it down to the ocean. But this evening, fissure 8 and other vents went into overdrive again, pouring out rivers of lava and prompting more emergency evacuations (Civil Defense notice) (HVO/USGS Alert).

Lava livestream

Honolulu Civil Beat is back to let us watch nature’s pyrotechnics from about 2km away and a crucial 200 feet up.

It’s mesmerizing to watch, but a sobering sight as well, knowing homes downstream are burning and some people are in danger. 

I can’t watch now; I have a post to write. Where was I?

Kilauea’s summit. Same old, same old. Frequent earthquakes up to M4.4 at 5:42pm, ongoing deflation, intermittent ash explosions, about once an hour this morning reaching 12,000,  13,000  and 15,000 feet. Civil Defense warned ¬that light easterlies would blow ash and vog  west, aggravating a slightly different set of downwind communities.

Also, I keep forgetting to mention all the cracks across lower Puna due to the magma moving underneath. It doesn’t have to erupt to cause big problems:

Note that this tweet points to a treasure trove of eruption images/vids:  Hawaii Civil Defense’s Flickr album.

Here’s some more surprises from last night: volcanic cinder, Pele’s hair, and an honest-to-gosh Pele’s tear!

TODAY’S USGS Fissure Maps

A close look helps explain the day’s events. It’ll be interesting to see how tonight’s lava rivers rewrite the map tomorrow.

USGS Caption: “This thermal map shows the fissure system and lava flows as of 1:15 pm on Monday, May 28. The flow from Fissure 8 that reached Pohoiki Rd. this morning stalled, though activity restarted at Fissure 8 in the afternoon shortly after this map was made. The channelized flows that had reached the ocean were inactive today – a small amount of residual lava was draining from the abandoned eastern channel into the ocean, creating a weak ocean entry plume. Fissure 22 restarted today with lava starting to reoccupy the drained channel.” Here it is full-sized.
USGS caption: “Map as of 3:00 p.m. HST, May 28, 2018. Shaded purple areas indicate lava flows erupted in 1840, 1955, 1960, and 2014-2015.” See full-sized.

USGS May 28 Morning Status Update

Dr. Carolyn Parcheta, USGS Geologist, covers last night’s lava outbreak. Text transcript here.


@USGSVolcanoes, the channel not only for the Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory but its sister observatories (CVO, AVO, etc) is posting status updates + photos on Twitter:

Photos uploaded to HVO’s website today were mostly bleak aerial shots capturing the desolation of the greatly-expanded lava fields. Here’s Pohoiki Rd being menaced by last night’s galloping lava flow (now spread out and slower) at 7 AM.

USGS caption: “Aerial view of active lava flow crossing Pohoiki Road during an overflight this morning about 7 a.m. HST. Pohoiki Road cuts through middle of photograph. Note lava fountains erupting (top right) from fissure 8 (left-side fountain) and 24 (right-side fountain) from the fissure complex. By late this morning, the flow’s advance slowed to a few meters (yards) per hour, and fissure 8 activity had diminished significantly.” Full-sized)

Here’s roughly the same view this afternoon, turned a little more clockwise. Pohoiki Rd is in both of them.

USGS Caption:
View of the now-sluggish lava flow that crossed Pohoiki Road earlier today; the flow originated from fissure 8. This fissure was very active overnight, slowed this morning, and stopped by about noon. During the close of an overflight this afternoon, lava began erupting downrift of fissure 8 in the area between about fissure 7 and 21 (low fountains in upper right). This photo was taken at about 1:45 p.m. HST. Compare with photo above. (Full-sized; worth seeing)

And here’s another bleak view which I think includes the geothermal plant plus the fissures 16-20-22 complex (middle of photo) which was the main focus of HCB’s lava livestream last week. You’ll probably want to see the full-sized version.

USGS caption: “View of the fissure complex looking toward the southwest (uprift) during this afternoon’s overflight at about 1:15 p.m. HST. The small lava flows spreading to the southeast from the fissure complex (lower middle) originate in the area of between fissures 16 and 18. The channelized lava flow in upper left originates from fissure 22.”
11am USGS Conference Call:

Below this video on BIVN’s website, there’s more USGS info, notices from civil defense, and info about power/roads for residents.


Steve Brantley (USGS): Describes last night’s major lava outbreak (new flow was 1.5 miles by mid-morning) and summarizes current activity at summit.

Jessica Ferracane (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park): Day 18 of park’s closure, tells media nope, no access; when USGS and park rangers are staying away for safety it’s dangerous! (But she did go up there yesterday and was pretty unnerved).

(Jon Jelsma) NWS: A weather forecast. Gist: wimpy winds through Tuesday may send ash, vog in different areas (including Pahoa, even Hilo) before trades come back. Heavy rain later tonight/Tuesday may help clear air.

Questions from news media. One asks if lack of new magma moving into LERZ (signified by lack of earthquakes) means it may stop. Brantley clarifies that it’s still receiving magma from summit, just not accumulating more, i.e. it’s erupting as fast as it’s being supplied.

Question about drones used last night to rescue trapped resident: Steve says  team of pilots has been tracking lava, changes at summit, and more for both USGS and civil defense, so were able to track flow for first responders.

Geologists Around the Web

Dr. Robin Andrews tries out a few common solutions (bombs, diversion, water), then asks Dr. Janine Krippner: “Why Can’t We Artificially Drain Magma Chambers To Stop Volcanic Eruptions?

Reports From Local News Media

HawaiiNewsNow and Honolulu Star-Advertiser have some articles they just keep updating:

Other miscellaneous articles

From the Twitterverse (I don’t do FB, sorry):