June 7: Kilauea’s New Normal (For the Moment)

Today’s eruption summary

These days, it seems like every time we think the eruption’s settled into a kind of equilibrium, it ramps up its activity in one way or another, so I’m sure this headline will be obsolete by morning.

But for today, Kilauea’s new status quo still holds: increasing numbers of summit earthquakes leading up to an ash/gas explosion (yesterday’s was 5.6); fissure 8 pouring out a river of lava adding new real estates to former Kapoho Bay. Updated count in homes lost jumps to ~600, most during the past week when 8’s wide flow covered shore communities.


“Lava fountaining at Fissure 8 fluctuated with heights varying between 190 and 215 feet. This activity is feeding a lava channel flowing east to the ocean entry in the Kapoho Bay area. The noon overflight found that the delta is about 1.2 mi wide in the Vacationland/Waopae area and observed the flow was expanding northward through Kapoho Beachlots. A large area of upwelling offshore suggests the presence of lava flowing on the ocean floor in that area.” —HVO alert June 7, 4:24 HST

Easterly winds tomorrow may blow more vog, particulates, and Pele’s hair over populated areas to the west.

Last HVO update of the evening:

Video/Conference Call Excerpt:

This is something that hasn’t really come up, and I think it’s important to hear: a frank reply from USGS Wendy Stovall and Leslie Gordon during a media conference call about the psychological impact of this eruption on scientists.

Images, more videos, and info (including science segment of this conference call) after the cut.

Monday 9am HVO Kilauea Briefing

USGS volcanologist Jessica Ball. (Transcript) Paraphrase/summary: [Morning June 7] Fissure 8 fountaining 130-210 ft, lava ocean entry Vacationlands, laze hazard. N. lobe of flow stalled. No other fissures active. 5.6 Summit explosion, 4:07pm June 6, 10K ash cloud. Halema’uma’u slumping continues.

USGS Overflight PHOTOS: FIssure 8 6:30 am
USGS: “Fissure 8 lava fountain heights fluctuated between about 40 m (130 ft) and 70 m (230 ft) during this morning’s overflight at about 6:30 a.m. HST.” (Full-sized)
USGS: “View of the fissure 8 lava fountain and lava channel that travels to the ocean, a distance of about 12.5 km (7.8 mi).” (Full-sized)
USGS Ocean Entry PHOTOS, 7am
USGS: “Lava entering ocean in vicinity of Kapoho Bay is forming a lava delta.” (Full-sized)
USGS caption: “Lava enters the ocean in the vicinity of Vacationland at 7 a.m. HST. ” (Full-sized)


“Beginning on June 3, lava from fissure 8 entered the ocean at Kapoho Bay. By June 6, lava had completely filled Kapoho Bay and built a delta that now extends over a mile from shore. A helicopter overflight of Kīlauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone on June 6, 2018, around 5:00 pm.m HST documented lava-seawater interactions at the ocean entry and the formation of a white plume called laze. Lava entering the ocean builds a platform of new land known as a lava delta. This new land appears stable, but hides a foundation of loose rubble that can collapse into the ocean.” — USGS

Changes at Summit: ESA Satellite Radar

USGS: “…changes to the caldera area of Kīlauea Volcano that occurred between May 5 and June 6 at 6:00 a.m. HST. […] Over time, expansion of the summit eruptive vent within Halema‘uma‘u crater and the widening of Halema‘uma‘u itself are clear. The last three images in the sequence, from May 29-June 6, show the development of several cracks outside Halema‘uma‘u (also seen in UAS footage of the crater) and inward slumping of a large portion of the western and southwestern crater rim. The west side of Halema‘uma‘u is clearly unstable, and it is likely that rockfalls and continued slumping will occur in the future.” (Full-sized)
I have to admit, I’m hoping they’ve moved any hard-to-replace equipment and exhibits from the HVO and Jaggar Museum. So far, that “unstable crater rim” and scarp seems to end well short of the western wall of the caldera. But the slow-moving disaster down in Puna shows the wisdom of taking precautionary measures before new hazards make it too dangerous to go back for material items.

Luckily, HVO’s scientists aren’t hampered by denial, and they should be able to estimate the chances of the slumping/collapse propagating far enough to impact the caldera wall.

Damage/debris near Halema’uma’u Crater
Unlabeled image here.

When Deputy-Scientist-in-Chief Steve Brantley went to check on the summit June 5, somebody— HVO’s being coy about who— risked visiting the old Halema’uma’u parking lot for a spot of fieldwork. It looks like a Mars-scape up there right now. I wonder just how far west the crater wall’s going to fall in? I hope the Jaggar Museum and HVO are out of the slump zone.

USGS “With careful consideration and planning to avoid ongoing volcanic hazards as much as possible, an HVO scientist who has been studying the behavior of Kīlauea’s summit for decades, briefly visited the parking area for the former Halema‘uma‘u overlook (closed since 2008) on June 5 to make direct observations of and gather data from the effects of recent explosions within Halema‘uma‘u. Through these photos, we share with you what he saw and learned. The parking lot is strewn with small ballistic blocks. Most are only a few centimeters across, with the largest blocks around 45 cm (18 inches) in diameter.” (Full-sized)
“Many large blocks appeared to be in depressions in the ash, but upon closer examination, it was concluded that wind had winnowed ash from around the blocks, creating a false impression that the depressions were made by impact. In places, ash has accumulated on the upwind sides and been removed from the downwind sides of the ballistics, giving a smooth streamlined appearance to the parking lot.”
USGS: “The Halema‘uma‘u parking lot is sliced into blocks by cracks. These cracks, first noted in a very early stage on May 13, now are the dominant features of the parking lot. The cracks, which are circumferential to Halema‘uma‘u, warp and offset the pavement and curbing, as seen here. The crack responsible for warping this curbstone is visible on both sides of it.” (Full-sized)
USGS: “The median between two areas of the parking lot has been warped and broken by cracks. Ash accumulation in the parking area was generally not more than 4 cm (1.5 in) thick.” (Full-sized)
USGS: ” Crack on Crater Rim Drive just east of the parking lot, with the National Park sign indicating “Halema‘uma‘u” at right. This crack shows 42 cm (16.5 in) of right lateral offset—as measured by fitting the center stripe on the road back together)—and was about 25 cm (10 in) wide.” (Full-sized)
USGS: “An even larger crack, shown here, arcs across the parking lot and bounds one of the large blocks mentioned above.” (Full-sized)
Pu’u O’o Crater Empty of Lava

Poor ol’ thing. It’s irrational, especially with all the major losses of homes, property, pets and livelihoods, but I’m mourning Pu’u O’o in a low-key way. It made such a profound impression on me as a kid.

USGS: “Clear conditions at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō provided good views into the crater. The crater floor collapsed, and the lava lake drained, a little more than a month ago. The crater now has a funnel-shape geometry with a deeper cylindrical shaft. Rubble fills the base of the shaft.”
Oh hey, this is actually a still from a video clip.
USGS 11am Conference Call

Janet Babb, USGS (Summary/Paraphrase):
LERZ — Fissure 8 active, fountains up to 230ft, lava channel east to Kapoho Bay. N lobe “not receiving a lot of lava, so it’s not making much progress.” Lobe west of Four Corners Cinder Pit inactive. Very minor overflows from fissure 8 channel.
Ocean entry along broad front, Kapoho Bay, Vacationland, creeping N on remaining Kapoho Beach Lot area.
SUMMIT— After yesterday’s 4:07pm plume (ash/gas), 10K ft, “released enough energy to be equivalent to M5.6 earthquake,” seismicity dropped; summit relatively quiet overnight. Expect seismicity to increase throughout day, probably leading to next explosion. Halema’uma’u rim/walls continue to slump inward, subsidence.
GAS EMISSIONS: SO2 remains high in LERZ, diminished at summit but still high enough to impact downwind communities. Vog/gas release with each explosion. Not much ash produced by these explosions now.

[EDIT: AHA! BigIslandVideo mostly takes audio/video from other people and repackages them, but they sometimes leave stuff out. I finally tracked down an archive of USGS 11AM conference calls and community meetings at which the USGS has usually delivered a 10 minute presentation.]

Volcano Watch

This week’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s newsletter features: “How to protect yourself from volcanic ash produced by Halema’uma’u explosions”

Speaking of Volcano Watch, here’s a 2008 edition answering a question much in the news lately: “Who owns new coastal lands created by lava flows?”


Posts from Other Geologists

Not every geologist works for the USGS. Some of them are actually getting 7 hours of sleep right now.

Mick Kalber Daily Overflight

Amazing Fissure 8/lava flow images today.

Let’s not get jaded that we can actually watch this kind of thing on a daily basis.

Hawaii Civil Defense Alerts

Pretty much same wording for last few days, with minor updates for latest summit explosion and fissure 8’s lava flow. Its leading edge into the bay is now 1.2 miles wide. Brief overflows on the north side of lava channel occasionally encroach on few remaining Kapoho Beach Lots. At 12pm, CD announced that curfew is lifted west of Pomaikai. [6am] | [12pm] | [6pm]

June 7 photos from Hawaii Civil Defense:



LAVA IMAGERY: Photographer Bruce Omori

An uncredited photo Tweet prompted me to Google my way to a professional photographer’s fantastic lava photos (apart from first video clip, they’re all from Pu’u O’o lava flows earlier this year).

Four examples from photographer Bruce Omori’s Instagram:

That entire album is honest-to-gosh geology porn, if igneous is your kink. There’s more on his website. I recognize several of his iconic photos; “Creation” in particular seems to pop up unsourced all over the place. Time Magazine also ran a short feature on some of his overflight photos of the early days of the Leilani fissure eruptions.

Social Media Roundup

This photographer’s Instagram has several photos of an LERZ overflight, apparently last Sunday:

More prosaically, here’s the latest ESA Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) Satellite images:

I’m not the only one intrigued by the summit’s geyser-like periodicity at the moment. (Pu’u O’o was erupting about every 25 days when I arrived, and switched over to constant/effusive while I was there. When it comes to volcanoes, one can’t become complacent.)

Random pretty photo, although I suspect it may not be the original photographer:

And on the less photogenic, more painful side of this eruption:

#LeilaniEstatesEruption #KilaueaVolcano LATEST (June 7 at 3:45 PM): Hawaiʻi County officials now say at least 600 homes are gone as Mayor Harry Kim has readjusted the number of houses believed to be claimed by lava back up to 500 — in just the Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots areas — a day after the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Agency said 130 homes were officially destroyed. According to Civil Defense, all of Vacationland’s 150-160 homes are covered in lava and only about 30 of Kapoho Beach Lots’ 350 houses are believed to be spared. #HappeningNow: If you’ve lost a home or if your house is in the path of lava, you may want to head to the Hawaiian Shores Community Association Building (“The Stables”) at 15-859 Kahakai Boulevard today from 3:30 – 6:30 PM for a Puna Insurance Claims Forum hosted by the Hawaiʻi County Bar Association, County of Hawaiʻi, State of Hawaiʻi, United Policyholders and Hawaiʻi Public Adjusters. The three hour presentation wraps at 6:30 PM with a public Question and Answer period with all the panel members. For more information, call Coral Behan at Hawaiʻi Public Adjuster 808-856-3041 or email: c.behan@hawaiipublicadjuster.com. Stay tuned to @HawaiiNewsNow for the very latest developments #HInews #HawaiiNews #HNN #HawaiiNewsNow #WeAreYourSource (Photo: @Heets7 taken Tuesday)

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Below: clip of slow-moving a’a flow near Noni Farms, livestock evacs
Plus: short album of some of Andrew Richard Hara’s best eruption photos

Part 2 of 2 – 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. . 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. ____ #leilaniestates #eruption #bigisland #papayafarmsroad #hawaii #nonifarmsroad #volcano  @hawaiitribuneherald @hawaiinewsnow @natgeo @humanesociety #animalrescue

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Video clip from June 6 evening of Mileka Lincoln leaving Kapoho area:

#LeilaniEstatesEruption #KilaueaVolcano UPDATE (June 7 at 6:45AM): I took this video while we were out on the water in what was left of Kapoho Bay yesterday. We won’t know if any of these homes are still standing until USGS or the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Agency releases new aerial photos or footage. Yesterday, Civil Defense updated their count and said 130 homes have been officially claimed by lava — but the county admits their tally is about 48 hours behind, and that number could be as high as 500 as they originally reported Tuesday night. Here’s the latest from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: “Lava fountaining at Fissure 8 continues, with fountain tops reaching heights of 130-210 feet, This activity is feeding a lava channel flowing east to the Kapoho Bay area. Lava is continuing to enter the ocean in the area of the Vacationland subdivision. A late afternoon overflight showed that the ocean entry is creating a vigorous steam plume that is being blown inland to the southwest. The delta that formed at Kapoho Bay extended slightly throughout the day, and a lateral lobe of the flow is pushing slowly north through what remains of the Kapaho Beach Lots subdivision. The northern lobe of the Fissure 8 flow appears to have stalled with only traces of smoke at the flow front, although there is some incandescence in the finger of that lobe that advanced along a low graben a few nights ago. No other fissures are active. Pele's hair and other lightweight volcanic glass from high fountaining of Fissure 8 are falling downwind of the fissure and accumulating on the ground within Leilani Estates. Winds may waft lighter particles to greater distances. Residents are urged to minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation similar to volcanic ash.” A reminder that laze is formed when hot lava hits the ocean sending hydrochloric acid and steam with tiny glass particles into the air. Health hazards of laze include lung damage, and eye and skin irritation. Be aware that the laze plume travels with the wind and can change direction without warning. Stay tuned to @HawaiiNewsNow #HInews #HawaiiNews #HNN #HawaiiNewsNow #WeAreYourSource

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Another photographer worth watching, although I  would’ve preferred a static photo album to tab through rather than wait for a labored Ken Burns effect.

#LeilaniEstatesEruption #KilaueaVolcano LATEST (June 7 at 11:15 PM): Jaw-dropping images from @AndrewRichardHara, who just landed after flying over the #LERZ tonight. #AndrewRichardHara was invited by Brigadier General Kenneth Hara on a National Guard Blackhawk flight over and around the corners of the current eruption to do an aerial survey of incandescent lava flows and current status of Fissure 8. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has just released this update: “Lava fountaining at Fissure 8 continues unabated with fountain tops reported between 170-200 feet. This activity continues to feed a lava channel flowing east towards the ocean entry in the Kapoho Bay area. The noon overflight found that the delta is about 1.2 mi wide in the Vacationland/Waopae area and observed the flow was expanding northward through Kapoho Beachlots. A large area of upwelling offshore suggests the presence of lava flowing on the ocean floor in that area. However, bad weather and poor visibility grounded the late afternoon overflight. The ocean entry is a hazardous area. Hazards include walking on uneven, glassy lava flow surfaces and around unstable, vertical sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry on land or the ocean exposes you to flying debris from sudden explosive interaction between lava and water. Also, the lava delta is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf, causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea. In several instances, such collapses have also incorporated parts of the older sea cliff. Additionally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates "laze", a corrosive seawater plume laden with hydrochloric acid and fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs. No other fissures are active.” Stay tuned to @HawaiiNewsNow for the very latest developments #HInews #HawaiiNews #HNN #HawaiiNewsNow #WeAreYourSource (Photos: @AndrewRichardHara)

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