June 9: Pu’u O’o Goes Poof Again

Today’s Eruption Summary

One gets the sense that crisis mode is giving way to some sort of new normal, as it did during the decades of the Pu’u O’o eruption. Not that one can ever call this normal:

USGS: “Fissure 8 and lava channel in the lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano during this afternoon’s overflight, with no apparent slowing in the eruption rate. The lava channel remained incandescent all the way around Kapoho Crater before entering the ocean.” (Full-sized)

Still, public meetings are no longer dominated by talk about lava, fissures, and SO2 so much as how to collect on insurance and find housing. The USGS has dropped weekend video briefings to give its staff a much-needed break (alerts/info are still posted on the HVO website). Hawaiian news outlets are reverting to a more typical news cycle, with only 1-2 new Kilauea updates a day.

At the summit, steam/ash explosions continue their recent pattern. Today’s explosion registered as M5.2 at 4:48am, shaking the village of Volcano; it was felt as far away as Hilo.  (Local radar is still out, but the ash cloud was small, less than 10,000 feet, since satellites can spot bigger ones).

Halema’uma’u is looking very ragged around the edges:

USGS: “Cracking and slumping of the Halema‘uma‘u crater walls are clearly evident in this aerial view captured during HVO’s overflight of Kīlauea’s summit this morning. Steam plumes have been rising from within the crater, as well as from cracks adjacent to the crater.” (Full-sized)

In the Lower East Rift Zone, Fissure 8’s fountain has tapered off slightly, down to 130-160ft with occasional bursts up to 200ft, but its lava river is still going strong.  As of 6:30am, the new lava delta at Kapoho had grown to 200 acres. An elevated section of the flow near Lava Tree State Park caused some concern this afternoon when it started overflowing its levee, but it settled back into the main channel without a major breakout.

[another amazing Fissure 8 overflight video from Mick; here’s his notes, including rough estimate from USGS: 6-9 million cubic yards per day!]

The Pu’u O’o webcam has even more scunge on it today than yesterday, when there was a few rockfalls and a brief plume of “rock dust.” There were more rockfalls this morning. Earthquake activity under Pu’u O’o is still negligible, however.

I’m running late tonight, so here’s a somewhat abbreviated weekend edition of USGS info, eruption news,  images and videos, including timelapses of the summit and fissure 8 for the past week:

USGS PHOTOS for June 9

Remember to look for houses in these pictures; it’s easy to lose track of just how enormous Fissure 8 is. Even on a subdued day, its fountain is half the height of the Statue of Liberty:

USGS: “As of 6:30 a.m. HST today, fissure 8 continued to feed a vigorous channelized lava flow to the east of the vent. Overnight, fountain heights were generally 40–50 m (130-160 ft) high, with occasional bursts up to 60 m (just under 200 ft) high. Fallout from the fountains has built an asymmetric cinder-and-spatter cone around the vent, with the southwest side of the cone slightly higher (about 115 feet) than the northeast side (about 65 feet). This asymmetry reflects the prevailing trade winds, with more lava piling up on the downwind side of the fountains.” (Full-sized)

USGS video clips of Fissure 8 fountaining from last night:

While lava deltas are usually unstable and tend to wash away, I’m wondering if the shallow waters of Kapoho Bay, the thickness of this flow, and (sadly) the reefs it covered will anchor it better than most.

USGS: “An aerial view of the Kapoho ocean entry, as of 6:30 a.m. HST today, shows the extent of the lava delta, now about 200 acres in size, that has formed over the past six days (lava first entered the ocean on the night of June 3). Across the front of the delta, plumes of laze—created by molten lava interacting with seawater—appeared diminished this morning, but was probably due to a change in atmospheric conditions rather than a change in the amount of fissure 8 lava reaching the ocean. Laze, a mixture of seawater steam, hydrochloric acid, and tiny volcanic glass particles, can irritate eyes, lungs, and skin, and should be avoided.” (Full-sized)

Below: how’s this for a risky job? “Let’s find unstable places around Halema’uma’u’s rim, and stay there long enough to set up our complicated equipment!”

USGS: “USGS-HVO geophysicists installed additional continuous GPS stations around Halema‘uma‘u this morning. These stations will allow scientists to better monitor and measure the ongoing subsidence of Halema‘uma‘u and the adjacent caldera floor.” (Full-sized)
Webcam Timelapses last Week

Hawaii247 takes screengrabs from all of HVO’s webcams, then compiles them into weekly timelapse movies on YouTube. These are from June 1-7.

Notice the intermittently steaming cracks on the ground to the left of Halema’uma’u’s rim.

And here’s the LERZ:

There’s timelapses of four other views of Halema’uma’u posted on their channel, if you’re curious. (I think one is a non-USGS cam, perhaps set up in the town of Volcano?)

JUne 9 usgs lava flow map
USGS: “Map as of 10:00 a.m. HST, June 9, 2018. The fissure 8 flow has created a lava delta approximately 200 acres in size, filling Kapoho Bay and shallow reefs along the nearby coastline.” (Full-sized)
Last HVO Status Update for today

HVO on Social Media

USGS may have cut back on weekend video briefings and conference calls, but their social media team is still putting in long hours to answer questions.

That answers my question about whether to call it s a cinder cone or spatter cone. It’s not a new volcano,  by the way. It’s just a new vent on Kilauea volcano like Pu’u O’o, Mauna Ulu and Kilauea Iki, all of which were supplied by magma from Kilauea’s plumbing.

The length of this flow is pretty amazing.

I wonder how wide it is? It varies, obviously, but it looks enormous in overflights.

It’s odd how, when Kilauea lets loose with an unusually big and spectacular eruption, some non-geologists start claiming that something much, much bigger is about to happen, almost as if they’re not satisfied with the drama so far:

Anthony Quintano can sympathize: the moment you put up a livestream, people start asking you to adjust the camera.

The daily conspiracy theory whack-a-mole:

[rant]A moment’s thought would debunk this hoax, since there are old lava flows, spatter cones, not to mention films and pictures of  similar eruptions in Puna decades before the plant was built. Pu’u O’o erupted for 35 years before lava output shifted downrift to Leilani Estates. Even then, no fissures opened near the wells; the lava that covered them came from outside PGV property.

Most of all, I wish people would stop misusing the word “fracking” for any sort of hole in the ground. It’s a new word coined to describe a new process for oil extraction, which deliberately cracks and weakens rock in a wide area. Wells don’t work like that. If they did, there would’ve been no need to invent fracking![/rant]

And no, it wasn’t our imaginations…

June 7 overflight speeded up

This is from the Hawaii County Fire Dept a few days ago. Sped up, one really has a sense of the entire flow from source to sea:

06.07.2018 Flyover - Speedup

From Other Geologists (or at least scientists)
Hawaii Civil Defense Alerts

This afternoon, the built-up lava channel started overflowing near the intersection of Highway 132 & Pohoiki, triggering warnings for residents in that area and Lava Tree State Park, but it settled back into the main channel without a major outbreak.

5AM (ash eruption) | 6AM | 12PM | 3PM (“perched flow” warning) | 4PM (outbreak contained) | 6PM

Local News Outlets Stories
Social Media Roundup

Andrew Richard Hara posted another handful of good photos from a helicopter overflight. Here’s the first of the batch:

20180608 @ 12:30 – 13:30 HST Eruption Overflight . Wide, raised lava rivers peppered with islands of kipuka continue to meander throughout Leilani Estates to Kapoho. Fissure 8 continues to feed a growing delta out into Kapoho shorelines through massive channels of lava continuing to converge and diverge downhill toward Kapoho. Many streets have become unrecognizable due to the output of eruptive volume throughout these five weeks of activity. . 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 am at a loss for words. _____ #leilaniestates #eruption #bigisland #helicopter #hawaii #aerial #volcano #lanipunagardens @hawaiitribuneherald @hawaiinewsnow @natgeo

A post shared by Andrew Richard Hara (@andrewrichardhara) on

  • Another gorgeous photo of the Milky Way and lava glow in the distance by Traylor Photography (“All Rights Reserved,” and embedding doesn’t show caption/photographer name, so I’m just linking.)


Apparently a lot of us have noticed and are thinking it:

And we’re all hoping it happens during daylight so the livestream cam can catch it, right?


A reminder to thank and/or appreciate the USGS team for hard work and over a month of sleepless nights: