June 16: Things Moving Sideways or Down Quite Rapidly

HVO’s Kilauea Summit Livestream caught today’s Halema’uma’u “subsurface explosion” (is that what we’re calling them now?) and — wow!

Halema’uma’u BEFORE: screengrab of USGS/HVO Kilauea Livestream before the day’s explosive event. I’ve boosted the exposure to bring out details. (Jun 16, 2018)

(a few hours later, when, luckily, it was still possible to rewind the livestream back to the time of the explosion, since I missed it.)

Halema’uma’u Crater AFTER: screengrab of USGS/HVO Kilauea Livestream taken later in the day after the dust had settled. Look at that big chunk of the rim that dropped on the right!

We’ve been hearing about subsidence, slumping, and rockfalls for weeks, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it, even if the video’s a bit fuzzy. I took the liberty of saving a clip:

Radar showed the plume was less than 7000 feet, and as usual the energy release checked in at 5.3.

While I rewound the livestream to grab that clip before it fell off the “back” of the livestream conveyor belt, it looks like I jumped right over this:

There was still a column of steam at that spot when I checked an hour later, but I don’t recall it spinning.

Okay, enough fiddling with the livestream. 

What else happened today? Same as the last few days, to the point that I had to double-check the date on today’s HVO  Kilauea status report.  Fissure 8’s cone is holding at 170 feet, fountains currently around 185-200 feet. Fissure 16/18 continues to ooze.

The lava river is running as fast as ever:

Despite the increased vog due to lack of tradewinds, that’s the clearest overflight video I’ve seen in days.

Mick Kalber notes the pahoehoe channel now cuts all the way through the a’a field to the ocean, which may explain recent videos of lava racing at amazing speeds…

Fissure 8 – 5pm 6-15-18

Fissure 8 Pumping out some serious Lava this evening!!“To use this video in a commercial player or in broadcasts, please email licensing@storyful.com”

Posted by Ken Boyer Photography on Friday, June 15, 2018

I know, I know, I posted it already, but that was a copy shared by a reporter. The original is HD, and I prefer to feature the original photographer (Ken Boyer).

Notice the slower-moving, cooler lava near the margin of the river.

USGSVolcanoes says, “we’ve seen the video, and we’re fairly sure it hasn’t been altered. Lava in the channel could flow faster if the channel constricts, or if there is an increase in the volume of lava being erupted. We don’t think there has been a volume increase, but that’s not confirmed.”

Here’s today’s USGS photo of the Unnamed Cone of Fissure 8.

USGS: “Fissure 8 produces a lava fountain that pulses to heights of 55 to 60 m (185 to 200 ft). Spattering has built a cinder cone that partially encircles fissure 8, now 51 m (170 ft) tall at its highest point. The steam in the foreground is the result of heavy morning rain falling on warm (not hot) tephra (lava fragments).” (Full-sized)

Pu’u O’o would be proud.

The ocean entry has stabilized, apart from the Vacationland area where the southern edge of the flow is expanding a little further south.

USGS: “Lava from fissure 8 travels about 13 km (8 mi) down a well established channel (visible in the center of the image) to an ocean entry at Kapoho. Lava is building a seaward delta that is approximately 320 acres in size. The view is to the southwest with the Kapoho area in the lower right. The white plume is the vigorous ocean entry at Vacationland. ” (Full-sized)

Be sure to view the full version on that one; the lava channel feeding it is clearly visible.

Here’s another photo worth zooming. Notice the red glow of the lava on the underside of the laze plume. Kapoho Crater is peeking out in the background.

USGS: “View of the active ocean entry in the vicinity of Vacationland. The interaction of hot 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, but that dissipates quickly with distance.” (Full-sized)

Answering a question about laze, USGS said, “Acid rain is a common consequence of volcanic plumes. We have already observed a little bit resulting from the fissure 8 plume, and the ocean entry is acidic enough to contribute as well. It can damage plants, and isn’t good for animals either.”

And here’s another view of Halema’uma’u’s newest scars. How long until that large slumped block in the middle of the photo lets go?

USGS: “At Kīlauea Volcano’s summit, inward slumping of the rim and walls of Halema‘uma‘u continues in response to ongoing subsidence. In this view to the southwest taken after this morning’s event, a section of dark-colored wall rock (center left) has detached and dropped downward into the crater.” (Full-sized)

Stephen Sparrow commented on this photo: “Would it be exaggerating to say that “massive” amounts of the caldera floor (what used to be between the active magma from the cliff that Jaggar sits on top off) have collapsed? At the top mid-left of the photo, it looks like 30-50 feet of the floor has collapsed.”

USGS reply: “Portions of Halema`uma`u have dropped by hundreds of meters, and the area that is being affected by slumping is expanding. The caldera floor on the Volcano House side seems relatively stable, but on the HVO side certainly is sinking into the growing crater.”

Another question: Could the changes to the summit permanent? USGS: “We don’t know right now. It’s possible that the style of eruption of the last 35 years is over, but Kilauea has had multiple cycles where magma moved downrift and then returned (eventually) to the summit:

Thermal Map of Lava field June 16

If white = hottest, I think it’s getting even hotter. Or at least, the channel’s narrower (and presumably faster) for a longer distance around Kapoho Crater before it finally starts to spread out and cool.

USGS thermal map of lava flows as of 6am June 16. (Full-sized)
More tidbits from USGS on social media:

Channel depth is probably about 6 feet, but we cannot be certain. The estimate is based upon depth measurements of no-longer-active lava channels in other parts of Hawaii.”

Eek. How do geologists know whether lava’s safe to stand on? “The surface of pahoehoe lava flows cool enough to walk on about an hour or so after they’ve been emplaced, but interior remains hot so have to move quick.”

But of course, there’s always a risk: geologist George Ulrich had an incredibly narrow escape taking samples at a Pu’u O’o in 1985. (Nightmare fodder, but amazingly, he survived without permanent injury.)

On a less grim but more random note, the USGS says it’s using rechargeable batteries and solar panels to power the webcams and livestream at the HVO.

From Civil Defense and Other Agencies

Hey, I remember walking on this trail in 86!

Civil defense alerts today reprised the standard evacuation / disaster recovery / volcanic hazards precautions. Also, they had to defend residents from another growing hazard: conspiracy theorists and scaremongers:

Civil Defense Authorities are advising people that official sources of information regarding the current East Rift Zone Eruption are obtained from agencies responsible for monitoring the volcano. Be aware of posters who speculate on the movement of active lava flows. This information has not been supported by official observations.  Radio messages from the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency, along with information on official government websites and social media platforms will continue to relay accurate and current eruption information. We encourage you to only act on officially released information

There is no immediate threat at this time. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continues to closely monitor the eruption and works hand in hand with the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency to provide updates.

You will be notified of any changes that will affect your safety.

We are on watch 24-hours a day for your safety.

This is your Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency.


Palate cleanser: another image from yesterday’s stunning Civil Defense overflight photo album:

6.15.18 pictures (109)

From Local News Outlets

#LeilaniEstatesEruption #KilaueaVolcano UPDATE (June 16 at 5:30 PM): New aerial video taken today over Kapoho and the lava flow from #Fissure8 that continues to pour into the ocean. According to the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Agency, lava now covers 5,914 acres or a little more than nine square miles. Civil Defense reports 467 homes have officially been destroyed, but authorities have admitted in the past that their tallies are about 48 hours behind. They also clarify for us that this number only includes permitted houses as confirmed by county records. Residents of Hawaiʻi County who suffered damage or losses from the recent Kīlauea volcanic eruption and earthquakes, can now register for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The following is provided for your information: *The Disaster Recovery Center or DRC, is open daily from 8am to 8pm, and is located at the Keaau High School Gym. *Shuttle buses will be running between the two shelters and the DRC from 7:30 am to 9 pm. *The shuttles run every 20 minutes from the Keaau Armory, and every hour from the Pahoa Community Center shelter. The full bus schedule can be found on our Civil Defense Website at HawaiiCounty.gov/Active-Alerts. *For a list of the information you need to bring with you to the DRC, or if you want to register online, go to www.DisasterAssistance.gov. Stay tuned to @HawaiiNewsNow for the very latest developments #HInews #HawaiiNews #HNN #HawaiiNewsNow #WeAreYourSource

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Social Media Roundup

That sounds high to me, but who knows? Even the eggheads are having trouble solving this one.

I suspect the USGS will remain mum on this subject until they get some drones up to check.

The 1977 Nyiragongo flow was a lava lake breaching and draining— not down into its interior, but bursting out the side of a dangerously steep (and chemically odd) stratovolcano. Reported speeds were up to 100 kph. 

This is one of those cases where I wonder if the photographer was allowed to be there. I think he may be using a telephoto from the Noni Farms side of the flow.

Also, while skimming his Instagram, I hit this image from two weeks ago:

The contrast between human orderliness and the chaotic, destructive yet creative side of Mother Nature is striking.

20180615 Noni Farms Road Animal Rescue . Big mahalo to Jason Twillman and his crew for continuing animal rescues throughout our eruption. Ducks, chickens, and personal property were safely retrieved on our short trip. The large crack adjacent to Noni Farms continues to cool with little to no activity nearby. We observed large glows from massive nearby lava channels heading toward Kapoho ocean entry spanning 180° from east to west at a safe distance. Pockets of heat, steam and smoke peppered many a'a landscapes on southern and eastern fields from Noni Farms with zero gas emission readings throughout our traverse. . It's been such an intense, emotional, and physically demanding six weeks documenting our eruption. I will be taking a break for a few days to recover and rest. So grateful for our amazing team at Hawaii Tracker to continually update all of us with up to date, accurate, and respectful information – you guys are the best! . 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. . #kapoho #animalrescue #lava #eruption #nonifarmsroad #leilani #bigisland @aspca @natgeo #volcano

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The grassroots community efforts during this eruption have impressed me all along. (When this is all over, someone needs to do a compare and contrast study with 1960 Kapoho to see the impact of the internet on emergency response and rapid community organization.)