On Thursday, there was an hour and a half meeting with the USGS, National Park Service and residents of Volcano Village. Above is a video of the whole meeting. As usual, I’m interested in the geology, and so I’ve made a transcript of that part of the meeting. The first half of Kyle Anderson’s talk rehashes the “collapse/explosion” events that we’ve covered before, but the second half has a timelapse of Halema’uma’u from June 1st to June 28th — which I’ve rebuilt frame by frame, since I could just make out the timestamps— plus the latest Digital Elevation Model of Kilauea’s summit showing the slumping not only in Halema’uma’u, but across part of the caldera floor.
Scientist-in-Charge Tina Neal (HVO)
[5:40] [Introductory remarks, greetings and thanks]
[6:20] So tonight you’ll hear from familiar faces, Kyle Anderson and Don Swanson, who will give you an update on what the volcano is doing, what we think is happening, and we’ll touch on this very important question of how long and how big. Those are very hard questions to answer, so let me just preview that we’re not going to give you a wonderful take-away that will solve all that uncertainty. But we’ll do the best we can.
Fissure 8 and the summit explosions continue their status quo. However, for the last few days, the lava flow at Kapoho has been encroaching on new areas on its northern and southern boundaries at the coast.
At least 3 more Kapoho Beach Lot houses have burned on the north side, and the southern edge of the flow is burning vegetation and/or farmland west of Highway 137. I gather these new lateral outbreaks are due to the lava channel crusting over, about half a mile inland from the new coastline (see Wednesday’s thermal map). So instead of pouring straight from the channel into the ocean, lava is fanning out under the crust of the 2-mile-wide lava delta laid down earlier this month, then oozing out the sides.
[USGS drone footage of Fissure 8 from before dawn. They’re using drones for the first time to map flows, look for outbreaks and measure the lava river’s speed.]
At Kilauea’s summit, today’s collapse explosion occurred at 7:51am HST, June 29, with an ash-poor steam plume that rose 500 feet. (Steam?)The energy release dropped slightly to 5.2. I didn’t do a video capture, since the summit was blanketed in morning fog.
The “new news” today is that HVO has added two new views to its Kilauea Webcams page. One I’ve mentioned before, the old “Kilauea East” webcam from HVO’s 1990s website which has annoying reflections but a great view of the subsidence/collapse on the east side of Halema’uma’u Crater:
The other is a new heat-sensitive webcam which should make it possible to see “collapse explosions” at night:
Also, in this week’s “Volcano Watch” newsletter, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists explain the “piston” model they’ve developed to account for the daily collapse explosions at the summit:
This is big news. They’ve solved the mystery of the summit explosions! Subject to revision, of course; they’re still untangling the complexities of Kilauea’s current eruption. But the “piston” model accounts for the cyclical pattern they’re seeing better than the “steam explosion” model.
Exactly 8 weeks after the Lower East Rift Zone eruption began in Leilani Estates on May 3, Fissure 8 continues to gush unabated. Its fountains are contained within its 55-meter (180 ft) cone, and this morning’s overflight showed no active overflows.
For the past day or so, the lava river has crusted over on the last half mile to the ocean. This has allowed lava seeps, described by Steve Brantley in his Tuesday evening talk, to creep into still-molten earlier flows on the northern side of the lava delta. This “lava seepage” is oozing into the ocean along a broad front, encroaching onto what’s left of Kapoho Beach Lots on the northern edge of the flow:
At Kilauea’s summit, the most recent collapse explosion occurred at 4:49am this morning, sending up an ash-poor plume about 1000 feet, with the energy release of a 5.3 earthquake. The sides of Halema’uma’u continue to collapse inward and downwards, especially during each explosive event.
The big news today is that the National Park Service and USGS arranged a brief escorted tour for local news media to the rim of Kilauea Caldera, which has been closed to visitors for 49 days. There was also a half hour press briefing.
So today there’s suddenly a lot more videos and views of what the caldera looks like:
On June 26, 2018, Deputy Scientist-in-Chief of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, Steve Brantley, gave a ten-minute slideshow at the Puna Community Meeting in Pahoa. Video of the meeting is posted here. Steve Brantley’s talk starts at 35:00 in that video.
BigIslandVideoNews excerpted half of his talk in this video, which they overlaid with footage from a June 24 USGS drone overflight of the summit:
Below is my transcript of the complete talk, including images that match or approximate his slides.
Steve Brantley (USGS):
Hello, everybody. Thank you for coming out.
I’ll just describe a few things occurring in the Lower East Rift Zone and then summarize the activity up at the summit at the very end.
Here’s an excellent 13-minute retrospective of Kilauea’s eruptions from the early 20th century right through June 25, 2018.
Now back to the present.
Today’s Eruption Summary
It’s 11:30pm HST, and it looks like today’s “collapse explosion” is going to happen tomorrow. Are the explosion spacing themselves out more now? Too early to tell. There has been always some variation in their timing, despite the fact that it feels like we’re watching a magmatic equivalent of Old Faithful.
Meanwhile, Fissure 8 continues exactly what it has for— what, a month now? Fountains contained within its 180-foot spatter cone continue to pour out an 8-mile river of lava. Occasional spillovers near the head of the river usually don’t go past the margin of previous flows in this eruption. Fissure 22 is once again showing “incandescence” and pushing out small, short lava flows.
The ocean entry area fans out across a 1-km stretch of coast, but the bulk of the lava is dumping into the sea from Fissure 8’s main channel. Unfortunately, the northern margin of the lava flow has reactivated, too, pushing further into what’s left of Kapoho Beach Lots community.
Eruption Update for June 27 at 4PM. Due to active lava near houses in Kapoho, access by residents is not allowed. No additional houses have been destroyed at this time.
Kilauea’s double eruption continues with no significant changes: Fissure 8 is still pumping out lava, and the summit is continuing to settle. The ocean entry has expanded to two miles wide, with its southern edge creeping south just onshore.
Here’s a timelapse of all the USGS lava flow maps since lava started moving away from fissures in May:
Fissure 22 is sputtering and sending out tepid little lava flows that don’t go anywhere, while Fissures 16/18 were “incandescent” during the morning overflight.
June 26th’s collapse explosion waited a full 29+ hours, just to keep us on our toes, occurring at 10:41pm HST. The energy release was 5.4 with a 1000-foot ash plume.
Yesterday’s Mick Kalber Overflight:
While the daily collapse explosions at Kilauea’s summit haven’t sent up much ash lately, they’re still giving off a voggy burp of sulfur dioxide. And some of the ash that fell earlier is still blowing around and irritating communities at the southwest end of the island:
The big news today is that the USGS posted new drone footage of Halema’uma’u Crater.
Full video below. If you want extra drama, here’s a version with a soundtrack added.
HVO/Jaggar Museum are the low dun-colored buildings (same color as the bluff they’re sitting on, well-camouflaged) swing into view at the top of the screen around 2:30 and are middle of screen at 2:40 just before it shifts to a new view. (The larger, more conspicuous buildings near the beginning of the video are the old Kilauea Military Camp and the Volcano Golf Country Club).
Here’s an aerial photo of Halema’uma’u from April 13, 2018 for comparison, with Jaggar Museum/HVO at the top of those stairstep bluffs in the background, middle right. Here’s another view of the two buildings.
Fissure 8 is status quo. Today’s HVO Kiluaea status report says its cone is now 180feet tall. Its flow front has broadened southwards, widening to two miles, moving south on shore as well as continuing to expand offshore (lava delta acreage: ~405). The main channel/ocean entry remains on the southern side of the front, with minor entries in a 1-kilometer zone.
The lava Fissure 22 is weakly active; no activity observed at 16/18.
According to Mike Zoeller (UHI) at today’s 11AM conference call, the lava delta is advancing at less than 50m/day; it was 200/day a week ago. The southern edge of the flow is a kilometer from Ahalanui Beach Park. Over the weekend, he observed top lava speeds of 25kph (15.5mph); Leslie Gordon (USGS) saw it max out at 35kph (21.75mph) last Friday night.
After yesterday’s collapse explosion at 4:12, seismicity dropped from a high of 25-35 quakes an hour down to less than 10, but had started to creep up again and was averaging 30 by dawn. On the livestream, I observed clouds of ash/dust in the crater’s interior at various times during the day. Today’s collapse explosion occurred at 5:03pm, equivalent of a 5.3, ash-poor plume rising less than 2000 feet.
The new news today is that HVO/USGS downgraded Kilauea’s FAA warning level:
“Since late May, these collapse/explosion events have rarely produced significant ash plumes rising more than 10,000 feet above sea level where they can pose a significant hazard to aviation. For this reason, HVO is reducing the aviation color code from RED to ORANGE.”
I almost feel like the recent code downgrades for Kilauea and Mauna Loa were a tacit rebuttal of the scaremongers trying to conjure an island-wide catastrophe out of hot air. But I suppose I’m being as irrational as they are. There were specific numbers and criteria for both these status changes.
Down at the LERZ, status quo continues. Fissure 8’s lava fountains are vigorous but seldom peep over the cone they’ve built (now 180′). Minor overflows spill out near the head of the lava river without going far. The ocean entry is concentrated mostly at the main lava channel channel near the south end of the lava delta, but some fans out along a 1km stretch.
Today’s collapse explosion went off at 4:12pm, M5.3, partly hidden on the livestream by a dust cloud from rockfalls 4 minutes earlier. Just as yesterday, I noticed the “collapse explosion” started with a visible camera shake, unlike earlier rockfalls that made me think, “Waaaaait— was that it?” The explosion itself didn’t send up much dust past the rim of Halema’uma’u. About a minute later, dust from caldera wall rockfalls (I think?) blew past.
Below: Rockfalls, dust cloud, then I fast forwarded to the collapse explosion.
Today’s USGS Kilauea update gave additional details for yesterday’s explosion which probably apply to today’s as well: “Seismicity dropped abruptly from a high of 25-30 earthquakes per hour (many in the magnitude 2-3 range) prior to the collapse explosion down to 10 or less earthquakes per hour afterwards. Within 4 hours seismicity began to creep up again averaging about 25 earthquakes per hour by daybreak (June 24)” i.e. about 14 hours later.