June 6: Summit Explosions Explained (And Predicted!)

USGS/HVO photo of Fissure 8, spatter cone and rainbow, June 6.
Today’s Eruption Update:

Last night, USGS scientist Steve Brantley explained the current eruption in an informative 10 minute talk. I transcribed it as a separate post, but here’s a rough summary: Magma heading down to the Lower East Rift Zone is causing the summit to deflate. Deflation is causing a pattern of more and more earthquakes over 30-50 hours until the summit releases the strain with an explosion, accompanied by an ash cloud.

Sure enough, there was an M5.6 explosion and 10,000 foot ash cloud at 4:32pm. HVO’s Twitter account had a great impromptu Q&A session about it (see below).

Meanwhile, down in the Lower East Rift Zone, Fissure 8 shows no signs of slowing. It’s wiped out Vacationland and nearly all of Kapoho Beach Lots, and is continuing to create new (crumbly, hazardous) beachfront real estate.

USGS has also been posting some striking imagery today.

Video description: “HVO’s mid-day overflight on June 5 shows ongoing partial collapse of Halema‘uma‘u at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. To the north of the former visitor Overlook parking area (closed in 2008) is the site of the former lava lake—now a deep hole piled with wall-rock rubble. The western portion of Halema‘uma‘u has moved down and toward the center of the crater as new cracks form on the caldera floor to the west. Kīlauea’s summit continues to subside due to withdrawal of magma towards the volcano’s East Rift Zone.”

They’ve also posted drone footage of Fissure 8 lava flow on June 3. Houses give a sense of scale:

(Link to video description)

Here’s this morning’s USGS helicopter overflight of Fissure 8:

More images, lots of great geology info below the cut. But first, a 2-minute USGS briefing, since we skipped yesterday’s:


Jessica Ball, USGS/HVO. Transcript here. Quick review of fissure 8 flow activity.

THere She Blows: Summit Explosion

Replies to this tweet answered my questions about what, exactly, these explosions are, since the USGS keeps saying they’re not earthquakes, but “pressure waves” or explosions that seismometers register as earthquakes.

And a clarification to someone else’s secondhand report:

Someone trying to understand why the summit’s deflating manages to summarize the last five weeks in one tweet:

Reaction to the new photos of Halema’uma’u:

Yet another patient reply to a zombie conspiracy theory that just won’t die:

International cooperation (don’t tell you-know-who!) helps us all:

Speaking of crater data…

3D Model of the Summit Crater As of June 6

The USGS has used thermal data to post a new 3D model of the shape of Halema’uma’u Crater. Really neat.

Caption: “This 3D thermal map shows the new geometry of Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Magma in the summit magma chamberhas drained over the past month due to Kīlauea’s lower East Rift Zone eruption, causing much of the floor and rim of Halema‘uma‘u to drop or collapse. These changes have resulted in a much deeper crater, with rubble covering the floor. The deepest part of the crater is 280 m (920 ft) below the former level of the crater floor.”

HVO Webcam of Pu’u O’o

In addition to the new Halema’uma’u Livestream, it looks to me like someone wiped off the Pu’u O’o webcam (or, more likely, the ash on it dried out and blew away). As I’m typing this post (noon, HST) the view’s pretty clear:

From HVO/USGS webcams, about 12:30pm HST June 6.

Okay, back to the Lower East Rift Zone.

USGS Lower East Rift Zone Photos June 6

USGS photo, June 6. Caption: “The vigorous lava fountain at Fissure 8 reached heights of 45 m (150 ft) as shown in this image taken around 9:30 AM.” (Full-sized)

From the USGS morning overflight…

Fissure 8 is still pumping out an incredible amount of lava:

USGS caption: “This view, looking south at Kīlauea’s lower East Rift Zone, was captured during HVO’s 6:00 a.m. HST helicopter overflight today. It shows continued fountaining of fissure 8 and the lava flow channel fed by it. Lava continues to flow quickly in these braided channels; the flow margins are currently stable and have not experienced any breakouts since June 5.” (Full-sized)

Fish-eye lens view of former Kapoho Bay:

USGS caption: ” This fish-eye view of the lava delta filling the former Kapoho Bay shows that while the delta margin nearest the ocean has cooled somewhat, the lava flow front is still very hot and producing laze (lava haze). Laze is a local hazard composed of acidic gases and volcanic glass fragments and should be avoided.” (Full-sized)

And here’s more laze.

USGS caption: “robust laze (lava haze) plume rises from the northern side of the fissure 8 lava flow margins in the former Kapoho Bay. As of 6:00 AM HST on June 6, this part of the flow front was slowly advancing through the remaining sections of the Kapoho Beach Lots subdivision.” (Full-sized)

Afternoon USGS overflight…

USGS Photo, June 6. Caption: “Views from HVO’s helicopter overflight at 1PM HST, show the remains of the Kapoho Beach Lots subdivision and the fissure 8 flow front. The northern flow margin in this area was unchanged from HVO’s morning flight and appeared to have stopped advancing at the time of the flight.” (Full-sized)

Hawaii County Fire Overflight June 6

Kilauea, HI-East Rift Zone Eruption Event - 06/06/18

June 6 Maps of lower East Rift zone
June 6, 12pm map of Lower East Rift Zone. (Full-sized)
June 6 Thermal map of lava flows. (See full-sized)
Tuesday June 5 Public Meeting in Pahoa

I transcribed the USGS presentation in a separate post, but BigIslandVideo has put up videos of other segments of this meeting as well:

Video Clip: Ocean Entry at Kapoha

(Turn down sound; windy but impressive video from HNN reporter):

#LeilaniEstatesEruption #KilaueaVolcano UPDATE (June 6 at 6 AM): Our #HawaiiNewsNow coverage from what is left of Kapoho Bay continues this morning as lava continues to pour into the ocean — filling most of it and creating a lava delta that USGS HVO geologists estimate is 0.8 miles long. Officials say an estimated 500 homes have been lost in what is believed to be the single most destructive day of any eruption in modern times. Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Agency officials say census numbers estimate as many as 350 houses were built in Kapoho Beach Lots and about 150 were in Vacationland. From our vantage point in the water, most of that area is now covered in lava — including Wai o Pae or the Kapoho tide pools. A large laze plume is blowing inland into the air along the coastline. Laze or lava haze is created when hydrochloric acid is formed releasing tiny glass particles into the air after lava makes contact with ocean water. The health hazards of laze include lung damage, along with eye and skin irritation. Officials warn that the laze plume travels with the wind and can change direction without warning. When the laze plume cleared we could make out a few houses still standing on the north side of Kapoho Beach lots. We could also make out the fountain from fissure 8 glowing the distance more than 6 miles away. Despite USGS HVO reports indicating that the fountain appeared to be losing intensity and height — we were stunned by how clearly we could see it from Kapoho Bay. We also observed dead fish and sea turtles floating on top of the water, which has changed color in some spots to a murky green and dark gray. Stay tuned to @HawaiiNewsNow for the very latest developments #HInews #HawaiiNews #HNN #HawaiiNewsNow #WeAreYourSource

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Local News Roundup
Social Media Roundup

20180605 @ 14:30-19:00 Noni Farms Road / Papaya Farms . A slow moving flow front on Noni Farms Road from Fissure 8 continue to edge into properties. Cows, sheep, and goats were being transported and herded out of Noni Farms in multiple trailers and vehicles from backbreaking community effort. A’a began approaching a wide section of northern Noni Farms Road and continued to flow into a deep 30-40ft wide crack large enough to divert a portion of the flow into a linear northeast pathway, away from homes and cultivated farmland. There is no doubt that this crack has spared many properties. Clinker a’a continued to descend in the crack at ~25ft/hr with audible sounds similar to ceramic plates crashing. Surrounding portions of the flow around the large crack were not advancing and continued to cool with few streams of gas, smoke, and steam in dense portions of the flow. Several toes of a’a lay dormant from the aggressive movement days earlier which intersected and engulfed many backroads and expanses of agriculture. Some homes were lost in this flow while others stood inches away from the dark, sharp crumble of a’a. Some of the descriptions of farms shared today were unfathomable as large swaths of hot rock replaced shelter and sources of income for many families. . 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. . 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 just cannot comprehend the sheer immensity of this fissure eruption, many areas are becoming unrecognizable. I am at a loss for words. ____ #eruption #leilani #lava #nonifarmsroad #volcano #fissure #bigisland

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