June 15: Summit Explosion Captured on Livestream

USGS: “Photograph taken during helicopter overflight captures fissure 8 lava fountain.” This one’s wonderfully moody with subtle textures close up. (Full-sized)

Lava fountains rise and fall, but the river they  feed remains the same: a vigorously-flowing channel down to a wide ocean entry, with occasional small overflows slopping over the levees (banks). Last night, Fissure 8’s fountains were reaching 200 feet; today they dropped again to 100-130 feet with bursts up to 180.  Its cinder cone, built of spatter and tephra falling around the fountains, is now 170 feet tall.

When is somebody going to name this pu’u? 

USGS: “Lava fountains from Fissure 8 reach heights of 200 ft overnight. The cinder and spatter cone that is building around the fissure is now about 165 ft at its highest point. At times, fissure activity is hidden behind the cinder and spatter cone, as shown in this image.” (Full-sized)

Frequency of earthquakes ramped up Thursday night, with more M3s than before. Today’s M5.3 summit explosion was late, finally popping at 11:56am, sending up an ash-poor (?) cloud 10,000 feet. HVO: “It didn’t produce a distinct plume, which is why we say ‘ash and gases’ instead.” This cycle of daily explosive events has been going on since May 26 or 29, depending on how rigidly one defines the pattern.

All right, let’s get to the science. And a rather foggy but nevertheless genuine video clip of one of Halema’uma’u’s daily explosions.

Video: Halema’u’ma’u Subsidence

Madame Pele picked less-than-broad-daylight for the first daytime explosive event since the livestream’s been added, but at least we caught a glimpse.

USGS caption: “On June 15, 2018, a small explosion occurred at Kīlauea’s summit at 11:56:39 AM HST. The event was captured by a live streaming camera and that footage is presented in this video clip. The earthquake starts at about the 0:39 mark of the video. The earthquake causes the camera to shake and over the course of the next few seconds, the rim of the crater subsides in several places, and numerous rockfalls occur (watch the crater rim at the lower left). Rockfalls also spall from the opposite wall of Halema‘uma‘u. After the earthquake, the video accelerates to 20x to show the plume of ashy material that results from all of the rockfalls and subsidence.”

USGS Lava Field Map

Total lava coverage:9.2 square miles. Lava delta: ~320 acres.

Link to Full-sized version

I keep being astonished at this ocean entry front instead of an ocean entry point.

Another view of the ocean entry — former Vacationland, I think — posted on USGS Twitter today. (Full-sized)

While it looks like it’s not gobbling up land quite as quickly as it was, “the lava flow front at is very broad and some of the lava is erupting underwater, which may account for the appearance that the eruption is slowing, but we haven’t seen any decreases in output from fissure 8 yet.” — USGS

June 15, 2018, USGS: “The ocean entry remains fairly broad with a white steam/laze plume blowing onshore.” (Full-sized)
Five-Minute Eruption Summary from Park Service

USGS isn’t going to be doing press briefings on Friday and weekends anymore unless something big happens, but today the National Park Service (displaced rangers from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park) put out a suitable-for-all-ages informative video of the eruption so far:

USGS 11AM Media Conference Call

Spoke too soon, looks like they did do a media conference call today. Here’s the USGS report, which is an excerpt from a 30-minute conference call:

Mike Zoeller, geologist, University of Hilo stepped in for USGS today

USGS on Social Media: Q&A

Ah, here’s why Fissure 8’s cone doesn’t yet have a name: “There’s no particular point at which it gets named – the only condition is that the cone has to persist once the eruption is over. The doesn’t get to name it; rather, it’s the community and local elders who decide.”

Also not their call: decisions about “public viewing areas” or platforms. “We can advise on what areas are safer to access than others, but they make the decisions on what’s restricted and not.”

Here’s why the lava channel is not making a lava tube: “The lava flowing outward from fissure 8 is too voluminous and fast for crust to form on the top. That the channel is open rather than roofed over is a factor of turbulence/friction in the flow.”

Also, while the summit’s deflation is indirectly related to its magma moving down into the East Rift Zone, “we haven’t seen a clear pressure connection between summit events and fissure 8’s activity. Magma is moving into the Rift Zone at the same rate it’s moving out – a steady state of flow.” — USGS

SUmmit Subsidence Continues

The latest Kilauea summit radar was released late yesterday. The accelerated slumping on the NW side of old Halema’uma’u is sobering:

USGS: “This animated GIF shows a sequence of radar amplitude images that were acquired by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana CosmoSkyMed satellite system. The images illustrate changes to the caldera area of Kīlauea Volcano that occurred between May 5 and June 14 at about 6:00 a.m. HST. […]The last four images in the sequence, from May 29-June 14, show the development of several cracks outside Halema‘uma‘u (also seen in recent UAS footage of the crater) and inward slumping of a large portion of the western, southwestern, and northern crater rim. Much of this motion appears to be coincident with the small explosions from the summit that have taken place on a near daily basis over the past 2 weeks. We expect this slumping to continue as long as the explosions and overall subsidence persist.” (Full-sized)
May 29 was about when this once-a-day-explosion pattern really settled in.

Despite this drawdown, HVO scientists expect lava to return:  “In the past, activity has shifted away from to locations farther downrift, persisted for a while, and then moved back to the summit (see [link] for the history). Fissure 8 may last for a while, but it’s not likely to become the main eruptive center.” (They said much the same thing to someone asking if Halema’uma’u’s collapse was the “death of the volcano.”)

I’m relieved to hear HVO is hauling away irreplaceable items: “The crater is already expanding toward HVO, and earthquakes have damaged the Observatory. Important historical materials are already in the process of being relocated to a safe storage location, so yes, we would make sure all of that is protected.”  I trust Jaggar Museum is part of that effort. Because it looks like there’s an outside chance it could become part of the crater floor.

Great question posed to Hawaii Volcanoes NPS, even if there’s no definitive answer yet:  “With hundreds of earthquakes on a daily basis, the Thurston Lava Tube may have sustained damage, but there has been no assessment done since the activity continues.” (For those who don’t know, it’s an ancient lava tube large enough to walk inside, from a 70-year eruption in the 1400s. Which makes me think it’s pretty durable.)

From Other Scientists
From Hawaii Civil Defense: Fire & Water

I’m going to stop posting CD alerts unless they post specific eruption info. But I see they just posted a June 15 overflight photoset. One vid & five photos on a moody, stormy day:

6.15.18 pictures (5)

From residential neighborhood to lava lake:

6.15.18 pictures (39)

See also large closeup of the “lake’s” surface.


Future tidepools, if ocean & lava both agree to leave them be:

6.15.18 pictures (80)

Roads on the 1960 Kapoho eruption disappear under the lava of the current one:

6.15.18 pictures (76)

Some farms are holding on:

6.15.18 pictures (71)

From Local News Outlets
Mick Kalber Overflight

Here’s Mick’s comments for this video.

Words of Wisdom

So glad I finally stumbled across Dispatches from Volcano. Bite-sized eyewitness reports from a native Hawaiian perspective.

Social Media Roundup

Looks like I’m not the only one scrabbling for then-and-now photos of the summit. But GBradLewis has his own photos to choose from. (Note that his is from further up so one can see the rim of Kilauea caldera, with Halema’uma’u inside of it.)

Sakurajima is on my bucket list as the only active stratovolcano I ever want to see…

Volcanoes that erupt all the time tend to be better-behaved, because they’re less constipated.

I just can’t let this go can I