June 1: Halema’uma’u Exposed

Today’s Eruption Summary

Fissure 8 continues to pump out vast amounts of lava, although it’s slacked off a tad from yesterday’s 260-foot display. One of its fingers burned a building or two at PGV. Other lobes closed in on Kapoho throughout the day, touching Highway 132 again half a mile north of Four Corners at 3:30. Fissure 18, which has been sending a flow east and down towards the ocean, has pretty much stalled apart from some small breakouts. Authorities were ordering Kapoho-area residents out today before lava cuts their only remaining road to the rest of the island.

Update: just as I was about to hit post.

(That’s a photo of Four Corners, which is the intersection of  Hwy 132 & 137. Apparently the lava’s started using 132 as a shortcut again.)

The summit has been steaming and vogging away, but the overlook vent has now been choked with debris falling from its walls. Ash explosions have nearly stopped since the 11am May 30 ash eruption that rose 12,000 ft.  Scientists are trying to figure out whether this means the main explosive phase is finished, or whether it’s going to build up enough pressure to blow out the clog. (That said, the crater has not “fallen quiet,” as many non-Hawaiian news stations claimed today. According to @NWSHonolulu, there was a minor “burp” of ash just after 1:30pm.)

Fantastic Kilauea Photo Gallery

@cheaptarts pointed me to photographer Andrew Richard Hara’s amazing Kilauea Instagram. A couple examples:

20180522 @ 03:30 HST – Methane field flames simmer in new cracks from Fissure 15 and 19 open up on the southeastern side of PGV, burning a State of Hawaii warehouse next to Pohoiki Road. Slow moving pahoehoe begins to approach PGV land at a crawl. . If you are worried about PGV, please remember that there are 23 fissures that have and emitting HF, H2S, and SO2 gases throughout this entire eruptive series. I'm not an expert by any means, but I try to remind myself that the gases that could be released at PGV are already being released into the atmosphere as we speak, outside of PGV's property. . For those who are wondering, I have official permission to be documenting this area. All areas that I have documented throughout this eruptive series have been through approved with legal access. Please kokua and do not attempt to trespass in areas unless official approval has been granted. . Many areas are now becoming inaccessible and the majority are dangerous due to volcanic hazards. . My respect and best wishes go out to the neighborhood of Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens, and the areas within and between Kapoho. . #leilani #lava #pohoiki #lanipunagardens #bigisland#lavaflow #hawaii #geology #fissure #volcano @hawaiinewsnow

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20180529 @ 15:30-19:30 HST – Fissure 8 on Luana Street . Moderate southwest trade winds shifted gaseous plumes of smoke and gas while Pele’s hair, light fragments of cinder, and reticulate showered from the skies up to five blocks (up to Alapai Street) in radius F8’s eruptive site. F8 generated massive channels of lava extending partially east and north over older flows on Luana Street. Nearby, F24 sputtered glimpses of orange lava a few feet in the air and is unlikely to be contributing any major part in F8’s aggressive effusion rate. Massive bodies of new pahoehoe lava beds radiated an intense amount of heat, keeping ambient temperatures consistently within ~90°F at our location. . All areas that I have documented throughout this eruptive series have been through approved with legal access. Please kokua and do not attempt to trespass in areas unless official approval has been granted. The majority of my efforts are without pay and all expenses are out of pocket. The content shared is being shared without cost to our local news networks for community awareness and support. Some footage does help to pay a very small portion of my expenses. . Many areas are now inaccessible and the majority are dangerous due to volcanic hazards. . My respect and best wishes go out to the neighborhood of Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens, and the areas within and between Kapoho. My heart especially goes out to all of my friends who have lost their homes in this fissure eruption. I am at a loss of words. _____ #leilaniestates #eruption #bigisland #helicopter #hawaii #aerial #volcano #lanipunagardens @hawaiitribuneherald @hawaiinewsnow @natgeo @milekalincoln @bruceomori

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Pretty, huh? Okay, let’s get down to the day’s Kilauea news, views, and eruption information:

USGS Morning Briefing

Looks like Jessica Ball from California Volcano Observatory has rotated in for Wendy Stovall (Yellowstone Volcano Observatory). I’m really impressed with the USGS “all hands on deck” operation they’re running, rotating in extra personnel from mainland observatories.

…including a cat, apparently.

Transcript here.  Summary: Fissure 8 working its way towards Kapoho & Four Corners with multiple lobes; 18 has almost stalled with small breakouts. Fissure 8’s height in past 24 hours reached 260 feet. Overlook vent within Halema’uma’u has grown “from about 12 acres to more than 100 acres as a result of the explosions.”

June 1, 10AM Fissure Map

Halema’uma’u Transformed
USGS Animation of recent changes at Kilauea’s summit, radar images taken by Italian Space Agency’s Cosmo-Skymed satellite.

I put it in a separate post, but in case someone lands on this post, the big news today was USGS releasing May 31 drone footage of Halema’uma’u, showing us the first clear view of debris-choked overlook vent and ballistic blocks tossed up on the rim. Compare with May 21, April 26. and this 2017 featurette on the lava lake since 2008.

11AM Conference Call (USGS Kyle Anderson)

USGS Kyle Anderson (paraphrase): removal of magma from summit causing continued subsidence, maximum 5 ft. Magma lake vanished from sight May 10. Withdrawal of lava made sides of vent unstable, leading to rockfalls, collapses. Ash explosions continue, the larger following “brief rapid pressurization of the summit reservoir.” Larger ash explosions mostly >10,000 ft, one as high as 30,000 ft “although atmospheric conditions may have played a role.” Ballistic blocks have been ejected from vent.
May 30, large explosion, after which steam/ash plume from overlook vent diminished. May 31 drone footage revealed enlargement of overlook vent to more than half of Halema’uma’u’s floor. Collapsed debris from walls completely choked lava lake conduit. Minor gas venting on floor, but majority of plume gone. Big change in activity, “too soon to determine its significance.”  Still possible explosions may blast through rubble choking floor, possibly larger than prev. explosions. Also possible vent could become permanently blocked, ending ash explosions. Earthquakes at summit continue: symptom of summit subsiding as it adjusts to removal of magma downrift. Earthquake rate dropped after large explosions for a while as summit magma chamber temporarily repressurized. (Scientists trying to figure that out.)
Q&A: Clarification on 2% figure from yesterday.
Kyle: Estimates are that the amount of magma migrating down into LERZ is only a tiny fraction of total magma in summit; summit has not lost very much magma. [Important because it means that we don’t have to worry about whole caldera collapsing, which would be Big and Bad.]
Q: Does that mean we have 98% of eruption to go? A
Kyle: Not controlled by how much magma is at summit, more to do with changes in Rift Zone. [What Kyle didn’t make clear is that nowadays it’s normal for Kilauea to have magma in it; its supply is being renewed from below. Otherwise — again, Big and Bad]
Q: You say lava lake conduit now blocked? Ending ash emissions?
Kyle: After May 30 explosion, ash plume largely vanished. It’s a significant change. Longterm implications not yet clear.
Q: At beginning of month, USGS said that steam explosions happened when vent blocked. Now vent is blocked. Are more explosions expected?
Kyle: Great question. Pressure could build, blow out blockage, throw out ballistic debris, possibly larger than recent explosions. “It is also possible  that this is the way explosive eruptions at the summit end.” They’re not sure yet.


Fissure 8 has been pushing out multiple lobes, which is slowing it down at least a little on its march to Four Corners. As of 9am its fronts were half a mile from Four Corners, the intersection of Hwy 132 and 137. Civil Defense anticipated it crossing Beach Rd, the last access road to/from Puna, within 7-10 hours.

USGS caption: “Viewed from the intersection of Nohea and Leilani Streets at 10:15AM HST on June 1, the Fissure 8 lava fountain (to the right) appears to have decreased in height from previous sustained heights of 260 feet. To the left, Fissure 7 appears to be showing renewed outgassing.” (Full-sized)
USGS caption: ” Photo of the easternmost Fissure 8 lava flow in the vicinity of Kapoho Crater at 6:00 AM HST on June 1. This lava flow field has been advancing at about 80 yards/hour, and at 7AM was about 0.85 miles west of the Four Corners intersection.” (Full-sized)

LERZ Webcam image I grabbed about 8PM:

Articles By Geologists

Hawaii Civil Defense

Not much new here, just evacuations in Kapoho ahead of flow expected to cross Beach Rd, last remaining exit route (and reiterating evacuations are now mandatory for Leilani Estates):

6AM Update |9AM Update | 12PM Update 

Also, since last night they’ve been warning that fissure 8 keeps building up levees that occasionally give way— as happened Sunday evening. “Breaches in the channel formed by the Fissure 8 flow can happen without notice and result in rapid moving flows. Everyone is advised to stay away from active volcanic areas.”

Hawaii Civil Defense posts daily photo albums; today’s was Work on Chain of Craters Rd, an emergency evacuation route in case 130 is cut.
Local News Reports

HCB: “Hawaii Has 5 Other Active Volcanoes In Addition to Kilauea

Again, different outlets reporting on same stories:

Halema’uma’u Drone Overflight
HNN: “Explosive eruptions are changing the face of Kilauea’s summit crater”

11AM conference call with Kyle Anderson
HNN: “Of all the magma in summit, just 2% has erupted in Lower Puna” 

Progress of LERZ Eruption (pages keep being updated)
HNN: “Number of Homes Destroyed by Eruption Grows to 87
KITV: “The Latest: Kilauea Eruption Update”
HSA: “Lava flow reaches Highway 132, approaches Four Corners
HPR: “Lava FLow Expected to Reach Four Corners Area in Hours

(note: Four Corners is intersection of Highway 132 & 137)

Puna geonthermal plant
HSA: “Lava burns 2 buildings at Puna geothermal plant
HNN: “Lava burns substation, warehouse at Puna geothermal plant
HCB: “Lava Burns Two Buildings at Geothermal Plant

Evacuation of Kapoho Area (and Leilani Estates)
KITV: “Residents of Vacationland, Kapoho Beach Lots & areas near HWY 137: Complete evacuation or risk isolation” (with map)
HNN: “Evacuations underway amid vigorous eruptions threatening homes, roads”
BIN: “New Interactive Map: Important Information for LERZ Residents
KITV: “Residents living in other parts of Leilani Estates could see their properties isolated by lava”

Reopening Chain of Craters Rd
HSA: “Emergency lava evacuation routes expected to be completed Saturday”
KITV: “New emergency route in case lava crosses Hwy 130 is almost ready
HNN: “Lava evacuees could use Chain of Craters Rd As Early As Saturday
BIN: “Update on Emergency Road Work in Lower Puna” (has map)

Help/Problems for Lava Evacuees
HNN: “Vacation hosts offer free housing to lava evacuees
HSA: “Leilani Estates shelter evacuee dies by apparent suicide”
HSA: “Allegedly intoxicated man arrested after crashing truck into hardened lava
BIN: “Hawaiian Telcom Continues Services at Evacuation Shelters

A Look Back:

Illustration for article: “Early Developers of Leilani Estates Ignored the Eruption in their Back Yard

LERZ Timelapse May 24-31

Oh wow. Hawaii247.com has been collecting screencaps from HVO webcams and posting timelapses. It’s got the Kilauea summit cams, but it’s the LERZ cam that really tells the story, especially this last week.

Social Media Roundup: the EXPLAINERS

RockyPlanet Blog’s Erik Klemetti had an attack of “I can’t stand it, I have to debunk this internet rumor that’s been flying around.” Click link below (it’s only a 4-tweet explainer/rant)

And HVO did a quickie explainer on the basics of Hawaii’s hotspot.


About those “FRIDGE-sized refrigerators”:

(For those as missed it, a newspaper’s “Volcano in Hawaii may spew fridge-sized refrigerators” headline aroused mirth 2 weeks ago)

#LeilaniEstatesEruption #KilaueaVolcano UPDATE (June 1 at 5:45 PM): Puna Geothermal Venture officials confirm lava from the fountaining fissure 8 in Leilani Estates continues to flow across the property — cutting across the main driveway to the plant facility. Mike Kaleikini, the company spokesperson, confirms a substation and a warehouse that stored a drilling rig have burned. He also says two wells have been covered on Well Pad E and a lava made contact with another, Well Pad A, but never passed across it. He says all 9 quenched wells and the two plugged wells are “holding up without any issues” — and confirms there has been no detected release of hydrogen sulfide. According to Kaleikini, the monitoring station at PGV was covered by lava — so they are depending on the handheld machines their employees are using to check for hydrogen sulfide levels along with the monitors the Department of Health have installed around the area. Kaleikini says the plant is no longer being staffed 24/7, but personnel is on site every day. According to Kaleikini, even though the main driveway to the plant is blocked, there is still an alternate route available. However, if lava crosses Highway 137 (Government Beach Road) then they could lose their only way in and out of the plant. According to Ormat, which owns Puna Geothermal Venture, the company has insurance of up to $100 million in the case of eruptions and earthquakes — but it's not clear if that will cover everything. Ormat says significant damage or an extended shut-down could have an adverse impact on business. Last year, Puna Geothermal brought in about $11 million in net income. Stay tuned to @HawaiiNewsNow for the very latest developments #HInews #HawaiiNews #HNN #HawaiiNewsNow #WeAreYourSource

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