June 22: Four Weeks of Changes at Kilauea Summit

Today’s Eruption Summary
USGS: ” Lava continues to erupt at a high rate from Fissure 8 and flow within the established channel to the ocean. No channel overflows were observed during this morning’s overflight. The fountains have built a horseshoe-shaped cone as lava fragments are intermittently hurled onto and over the growing rim. Lava exiting the cone forms a series of standing waves in the uppermost section of the channel.” (Full-sized)

Fissure 8 continues as usual, sending its lava river down to the ocean at Kapoho, with a “dominant ocean entry on the south edge of the flow front…producing a large laze plume.” Minor, brief overflows upstream aren’t traveling past previous lava flows. Fissure 6 is inactive; 16 incandescent; 22 woke up and was fountaining weakly during  the USGS morning overflight.

USGS: “Halema’uma’u crater at 8:30 a.m., view is toward the south. Several benches are clearly visible within the crater. The benches are sections of the former crater rim and adjacent Kīlauea caldera floor that have incrementally dropped or slumped into the crater as the summit area has subsided since early May.” (Full-sized)

Seismicity at the summit was “elevated overnight” according to today’s only HVO status update at 8:45 am. There appeared to be a lot of rockfalls/isolated slippages on the livestream today, especially on the left rim, but the really-truly “collapse explosion” (as USGS is now calling them) occurred at 6:52pm, 5.3 energy equivalent, 500 foot ash plume.

I spent this afternoon putting together a gif of the last 28 days of HVO wide angle Kilauea images, using screencaps I’ve taken supplemented with screengrabs from the same webcam archived by Hawaii247:

Halema’uma’u Crater, May 24-June 22. Animation of screencaps from USGS/HVO Kilauea Summit wide-angle webcam. (Full-sized)


In today’s digest:
  • Video capture of today’s summit explosion (warning: dark)
  • USGS Questions and answers
  • crisp LERZ photos/videos from HCFD
  • Local news stations turning from lava to recovery
  • Double dose of Mick Kalber overflight vids
  • Usual striking images from great photographers

In case you missed it:
Transcriptions of June 19 Steve Brantley Presentation at Puna Community MeetingJune 21 Conference Call

06/17/18 Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

“Explosive Events” now called “Collapse Explosions”

Mike Zoeller, UHI, Center for Study of Active Volcanoes:  We’re using this new terminology, “collapse explosion” for these events at the summit, because they are really a mixture of different processes going on. We’re not 100% sure whether the explosion triggers the collapse or vice versa. So, to cover our bases, we’re referring to them as “collapse explosions” at this time. — June 21, 11AM USGS/media conference call


USGSVolcanoes on Facebook:  (can’t link to individual comments):

Q: Some unlucky resident whose house is behind Fissure 8’s cone wants to know chances of cone collapse and flow going back that way.
USGS: The cone appears fairly sturdy at the moment. The more likely scenario is a channel breakout, which could send lava along the local line of steepest descent. Unfortunately, we can’t predict where and when those will occur, but we are monitoring the channel closely for weak spots.

Q: Could large earthquake near Leilani cause perched ponds/levees to breach, sudden outflow?
USGS: It wouldn’t necessarily require an earthquake, but yes, the perched channel and ponds could have levee breaks that would create fast-moving lava flows. We don’t expect that to happen at the same time all along the channel, but we are constantly monitoring from the ground and air to make sure no one is surprised by an outbreak.

Q: Why is lava flow crusting over? Flow rate slowing? Cooler?
USGS: It’s simply a normal process for a lava flow. The difference between the air and the lava is nearly 2,000 degrees F, so the lava is essentially “freezing” on contact with the air.

Q: Looks like increased earthquakes in LERZ- does that mean more magma intrusion further down the rift?
USGS: According to our plots, there have been relatively few earthquakes in the LERZ (5 in the past week, a few 10s of earthquakes in the past month). More earthquakes might indicate a new batch of magma, but there seems to be a relatively clear pathway at the moment, so there’s no need for the magma to break rock on its way to the surface.

USGS: “Early morning view of the open lava channel beginning about 5 km (3.1 miles) from Fissure 8. The channel bends 90 degrees to the south (right) on the far side of Kapoho Crater (cone in middle) and continues to the ocean where the steam plume is visible in middle right. Somewhat cooled (dark) crusts on the lava flow surface are visible in the central part of the flow, contrasting with the incandescent edges in the early morning light.” (Full-sized)

Q: Compared to other cones around island, is Fissure 8 small?
USGS: They are tens to hundreds of feet in height, so well in line with this cone.

Q: What are the white birds flying in the livestream?
USGS: Our summit teams think they are Koa`e kea.
David Starrett [random FB user, but sounds informed]: They are Koa’e’kea, or White-tailed Tropic Birds. They actually nest in the crater, I have seen them along the wall of the crater on the north west side from the trail near the parking area NE of the Jaggar Museum.

Q: Is Halema’uma’u wide enough to be considered a caldera?
USGS: It could be considered a nested caldera. Kilauea already has a summit caldera.

USGSVolcanoes on Twitter:

Q: Was Fissure 8’s “well-defined channel” a river-bed before, or just path of least resistance?
USGS: There may have been some small water drainages along the path that the fissure 8 flow followed, but no, there was no major river there. [Lava flows build their own channels/levees!]

Q (Jacob E Laurishke): “Will the narrowing and tubing of the secondary channels have any longer term effects on flow capacity or does the increased velocity fully compensate?”
USGS: The increased velocity compensates for the narrowing in the channels in certain spots. At the moment, the flow rate appears to be the same.

Rumor Whack-a-Mole

Yesterday, USGS announced the alert level of Mauna Loa had been lowered to green, explaining that its seismicity for the past six months is lower than it’s been in years. Today, they’re swamped with “Is Mauna Loa about to erupt?!” questions, even after posting:

A couple of many rumor whack-a-mole tweets today:

USGS: As an active (but not erupting) volcano, #MaunaLoa will have earthquakes as part of its normal, background activity. Since late 2017, rates of seismicity and ground motion related to inflation of shallow magma reservoirs have slowed to (pre-2014) background levels.

USGS: [to someone saying they’re still feeling earthquakes on Mauna Loa]: As we have explained before, you are feeling earthquakes from Kilauea, which continues to have elevated seismicity as a result of the ongoing summit activity. That fact that you can feel an earthquake from a spot on Mauna Loa does not mean its epicenter is *located* on Mauna Loa.

USGS Lower East Rift Zone Maps
USGS Thernal Map of lava fields, June 21. (Full-sized)
USGS: Map as of 2:00 p.m. HST, June 22, 2018. (Full-sized)
Science And Info Around the Web
Hawaii County Fire Dept LERZ Overflight

HI Civil Defense just posted a new album from HCFD: 63 photos/videos from June 17. A few days old, but I love whatever camera they’re using.

06/17/18 Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

Black sand beaches:

06/17/18 Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

Notice the tephra on the roofs of houses:

06/17/18 Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

Don’t cook the skids:

06/17/18 Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

06/17/18 Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

A familiar sight in Hawaii, but it used to be nearer to Pu’u O’o:

06/17/18 Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

“Upwelling” patch showing where lava is on ocean floor:

06/17/18 Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

From Local News Outlets

The official tally of homes lost is 614 for the moment (reported in those “rolling updates” articles that are mostly the same day-to-day)

Moment of Aloha
Overflights from Mick Kalber

I missed yesterday’s. It’s too impressive to skip— and a great view of the upwelling process offshore at the 2:10 mark.

June 22: The colors in this are beautiful (and there’s rainbows) but this one’s more atmopsheric than detailed. That said: 1:55 really good view of Kapoho Crater and what Green Lake looks like now.

Here’s Mick’s notes for this flight Also, Bruce Omori posted still photos from this overflight on the Lava Update blog, including one glimpse of glowing Fissure 22 (which we got to know so well during the Lava Rooster Livestream).

Other Photographers & Social Media



People were watching the glow of fissure #8 from Pahoa.

A post shared by Janice W. (@janice_weicool) on

Lava trees. The glow is from the fissure #8. #hawaiivolcanoes #bigisland #lava

A post shared by Janice W. (@janice_weicool) on

20180621 Hawaii Army National Guard – Leilani Estates and Hwy 130/132 “Y” Junction . Moku Street continues to be peppered with ash, reticulite, cinder, and Pele’s hair throughout the length of Leilani Avenue and Malama Street. Fumerole sites near the end of Moku Street continue to stream white steam and gas next to large, deep cracks severing the entire passage of asphalt. Luana Street on the southern side of Leilani (Malama Street) was not accessible due to heavy amounts of gas. Views of Fissure 8’s large and vigorous lava channel streamed brightly with lava fountains from the 170 ft-tall Fissure 8 spatter cone pulsed to heights of 185 to 200 ft overnight. The opposite side of Luana Street intersecting Kahukai Street revealed heavy thermals distorting a direct view of Fissure 8’s northeastern side vent. Hwy 130/132 “Y” Junction also revealed a similarly distorted view of Fissure 8 with thin views of the lava channel between us. . Today marks seven weeks of our eruption. It has been truly inspiring to see how we are all keeping our community together through a very difficult time. Thank you to everyone who has helped to make this experience brighter, we are doing an outstanding job supporting each other. . Mahalo to Major Jeff Hickman​ / @hawaii_armynationalguard for making it possible for us for us to safely document this eruption with a great deal of respect to visit sensitive areas. Aloha to Major Christine Rosalin, we can’t wait to work with you and your excellent team! Your media tours are great wealth toward our local community awareness. . 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 home. ___ #eruption #bigisland #lava #kilauea #leilani #volcano #fissure @hawaiinewsnow @natgeo

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

And a final thought…

Tay Austin has been listening to the Hawaii County disaster coordination radio channel since the beginning of the eruption.