July 3: Lava Boats Cause Overflows

July 3, 2018. USGS: “Fissure 8 and the upper lava channel, viewed from the early morning helicopter overflight of the lower East Rift Zone. Recent heavy rains have soaked into the still-warm tephra and the moisture rises as steam (right side of lava channel).” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

Kilauea’s double eruption continues with little change, except for a few more spillovers. Fissure 8 is feeding its lava river, which continues to ooze out along a broad front on the northern side of the delta and into Kapoho Beach Lots. Fissure 22 continues to spatter intermittently and send out a less-than-impressive flow.

About a dozen Kapoho homes have succumbed to lava over the past week, and more are expected to go. The National Weather Service also reports that there were about 1,200 lightning strikes between 7am and 2pm yesterday during Monday’s lava-boosted thunderstorm in Lower Puna.

Today’s summit explosion occurred at 2:17am HST, with enough clouds that radar couldn’t find a plume (if any). Just to prove seismometers aren’t stuck, the magnitude registered as 5.1. Seismicity is back up to 20-30 quakes per hour after the lull.

July 3, 2018. USGS: “Inward slumping of Halema‘uma‘u continues in response to ongoing subsidence at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit. This image, taken from a temporary observation post located at Volcano House, shows steep walls on the western side of the crater and sloping piles of rubble from rockfall events.” (Full-sized)

Not to be superstitious or anything,  but geologists need to stop giving Pele ideas. During yesterday’s media conference call, Mike Zoellner said, “They [lava boats] do present a risk, because if the flow of the channel jams them against the side and it contacts the levee, that disrupts the flow of the channel. It could divert either the flow itself or the lava going around the boat out of the channel.”

Sure enough, HVO’s Photo & Video Chronology documented a mini-drama today:

July 3, 2018. USGS: “Evolution of a blocked channel, photo 1. A blockage of rafted material within the lava channel causes lava to flow over its banks near the Kapoho cone. In this section of the lava channel a cold lava flow from the 1960 eruption forms a barrier on the north side, which initially directed the channel to the southeast. A constriction in the channel formed at the bend where chunks of cooled rafted lava were able to accumulate and block the flow.” (Full-sized)
July 3, 2018. USGS: ” Evolution of a blocked channel, image 2: While observing this area of the fissure 8 lava channel near Kapoho cone during the morning overflight, geologists witnesed an “apartment-building-sized” blockage within the channel give way and be pushed down stream by the pressurized lava behind. The dark portion within the red channel is the freed blockage. Lava continues to overflow behind the bend and form a cooled black crust. The more quickly flowing lava at the bend has very little crust.” (Full-sized)

See below for a few more photos of this from the Hawai’i County Fire Department.

Subsidence at the Summit

Somehow I missed this incredible animation of the crater’s subsidence last week. If you get a magnifying glass icon while viewing the full-sized version, be sure to click it.

USGS: “This animated GIF shows a timelapse sequence consisting of one image per day between June 13 and 24. The photos were taken from the southern caldera rim, near Keanakāko‘i Crater, and look north towards HVO and Jaggar Museum. The sequence shows the dramatic subsidence of the caldera floor, along with the development of scarps east of Halema‘uma‘u. Also, you can see a small crack develop in the foreground, at the bottom of the image.” (Full-sized)


July 3 Lava Flow Map
USGS: July 3, 2018, 11am map of Lower East Rift Zone lava flows. (Full-sized)

Total lava coverage: 10.2 square miles / 26.3 square km
Lava delta currently: ~555 acres

From Other Official AGENCIES

Psst. NASA. They’re “fissures” not “rifts.” But thanks. 

  • Civil Defense posted Mayor Harry Kim’s new emergency proclamation (an extension of the old ones), and also they’ve posted advisories for recently-reopened Highway 130 and part of Highway 137.
  • Harry Kim’s office also reported the Small Business Administration has now “topped $5 million in loans to Puna Eruption Survivors” and posted a FEMA fact sheet.
  • And Hawaii Volcanoes Nat’l park has posted a schedule of this week’s park activities (things are still going on, just not at the summit).
Civil Defense/Hawai’i County Fire Dept

Civil Defense posted a photo album from HC Fire Dept’s morning overflight today, 160 photos, 10 videos. Here’s a few, including a closeup view of the surface of Kapoho Bay as it looks now. Warning: one burning house.

07/03/2018: Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

Here’s some of the spillovers from that blockage the USGS documented:

07/03/2018: Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

Every once in a while I remember those are not small trees on either side of the river:

07/03/2018: Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

A few houses for perspective:

07/03/2018: Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

A view one doesn’t often see, looking northeast along the fissure system. Sulfur around the fissures in the foreground, and I believe Fissure 22 is the fuming black cone that sticks up highest in the distance.

07/03/2018: Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

Clogged arteries are no fun (I think the “rafted material” is that lumpy dark stuff to the left of the orange lava):

07/03/2018: Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

Still later, blockage cleared:

07/03/2018: Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event

(See the full album for more images of this, the lava delta, and other key features of the Rift Zone— although I notice nobody’s flying over the lava river and into the SO2 side of Lower Puna to get a good view of Fissure 22.)

From Local News Outlets

USGS Social Media Q&A

Q: How deep are the channels?
USGS: The short answer is that it varies. Some places it may be as shallow as 2 m (6.5 ft), or as deep as 6 m (~20 ft). We tend to use an average of 4 m (13 ft) for our flow calculations.

Q: How high above pre-eruption ground is bottom of channel?
USGS: We can’t know for sure what that measurement is. But we do know that the top of the channel margins is over 20 m (65 ft) in many locations – especially near vent.

Q: How many cubic miles has F8 erupted?
USGS: Doesn’t seem like much when you convert it to miles – about 0.1 cubic miles (or 450 million cubic meters).

USGS: Those are overflows that we have been monitoring from the air. It’s been happening a bit lately, but we haven’t observed any major breaches.

Q: What is Fissure 22 doing, exactly?
USGS: It spatters a bit, with some pulses reaching 50-80 m (160-260 ft) high, and then goes quiet for a while. Lava has not reached more than about 500 m (1500 ft) from the cone. [Note: they said field crews can’t get near F22 to measure its cone height due to gas hazards.]

Q: The last few days it seems like more earthquakes in Pahala and pretty good ones. [There’s been a cluster of small eqs there on the monitoring map for a while] I live in Naalehu and my windows have rattled a few times. Any word on this? Just curious any way to tell if magma is moving south? Or south west?
USGS: There has been an uptick in Pahala-area seismicity of late — see the attached plot of numbers of earthquakes in the area over time.

July 3, 2018: USGS chart of Pahala EQs posted on Facebook

Many are quite deep, and might reflect the mantle magmatic system of Kilauea. The shallower ones (which are the ones you are probably feeling) are more ambiguous. We’ve seen shallow seismicity in that area before that we believe might reflect fault zones that respond to changes at Kilauea or Mauna Loa, so it is possible the the massive summit deflation is putting stress on those faults. We don’t see evidence for magma moving down from the summit to the southwest. In addition to earthquakes, that would be accompanied by deformation, and we don’t see any significant ground motion in the southwest rift zone.

USGS (Jul 3): “During the overnight hours, the UAS (Unoccupied Aircraft Systems) team flew sections of the lower East Rift Zone, monitoring fissure 8 activity and reports of small overflows from the lava channel. This view of fissure 8 and the upper lava channel shows roiling lava fountains remaining within the cinder cone and a flowing incandescent channel. The black jigsaw-like features in the lower center, are pieces of cooled lava crust flowing on the surface of the channel.” (Full-sized)

Q: (comment in reply to recent video of collapse explosion at summit): Hola..perdón porla pregunta ¿ Que pasa con la temperatura de la superficie de ese lugar ?

USGS: Es probable que la temperatura de la superficie no sea muy cálida, a menos que haya una salida de vapor de una grieta. Allí, puede estar tan caliente como 100 C.

Q: In what ways is the Kīlauea summit collapse similar to that of Piton de Las Fournaise in was it 2007? And different?
USGS: Interesting question. First of all, it is much lager than that of Piton de la Fourniase, and also much longer lived (that collapse occurred over just a few days). But in a general sense, there are similarities — both events occurred incrementally (as opposed to a sudden drop), and both were initiated by large-volume outpourings of lava on the flank. So in some ways, one could think of Kilauea and PdF collapses being reasonable analogs for one another, just at different scales.

Q: What might happen when lava refills the [summit] crater? It will return, right?
USGS: Yes. It will eventually return. It has repeatedly in historic time after periods of collapse around Halema’uma’u. it may refill the crater, but that all depends upon whether magma is being injected into or erupted from other areas along the volcano’s rift zones. In the 1800’s the caldera had a much more broad and deep area than we see now. There were even multiple small lava lakes that filled in portions of the caldera as they overflowed.Q: Will there be an explosion when the lava comes back up through the debris?
USGS: That’s a good question. Historically, the magma has risen passively to consume the debris in the vent. But there could be steam explosions if water begins to leak into the caldera, and magma interacts with that water. We’ll be continuing to watch the conditions in the caldera very closely once the current activity subsides.

Mick Kalber Overflight

Here’s his notes.

First time I’ve remembered to watch this in fullscreen mode for a while. Wow. I’m amazed they were able to fly at all, with yesterday’s stormy weather.

Other Photographers and Social Media

From the summit of Mauna Kea:

The next two are from a 31-image photo album by Chris Paduan who hit both the lava boat tour and Paradise Helicopters within the past few days:

Staring Into the Flames

End of the Line


From Janice Wei:

Coqui frogs. I know they’re pests, but I love that sound:

A little sad seeing all the plants around the LERZ webcam turn brown: