July 10: Regrouping After Yesterday’s Overflows

USGS: “View from Bryson’s quarry around 11:45 p.m. HST last night looking uprift past Halekamahina (an older ash cone) to fissure 8, which is creating the glow behind the cone. Bright areas indicate incandescent lava, with the brightest areas showing the trace of the lava channel. A blockage in the channel produced overflows that are seen as spotty incandescence. Lava flows in the foreground are near the base of the quarry cinder pit.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

The chaos of yesterday has settled down a bit. Stormy weather has moved out, most of the overflows up-channel from Kapoho Crater have stopped, and lava is has returned to the main channel leading to the ocean, although not at the same volume as before. Yesterday’s breakout flow towards Cinder Road stalled last night. As of 4AM this morning, the only overflows still active were on the south (brown) side of the lava channel, including a new side-flow on the west side of Kapoho Crater (ocean is in the background haze):

July 10, 2018, morning overflight. USGS: “Aerial view of Kapoho Crater looking toward the south-southeast. Part of the lava channel became blocked just upstream of Kapoho Crater yesterday, diverting flows to the west and then south around the crater (center right). Lava exiting a crusted section of the channel continued flowing in the channel pathway (lower center to left).” (Full-sized)

It sounds like the southern edge of the ocean entry area has stalled too, giving Ahalanui Pond a respite (although the lava’s very, very close). But the northern side has continued to ooze as well. Today’s report from the mayor’s office said two of the the three remaining Kapoho Beach Lots homes were lost to lava in the past day or so.

There’s still multiple “ooze out” fingers along the edge of the delta in addition to the main channel. And Fissure 22 continues to sputter weakly.

July 10, 2018. USGS: “Fissure 8 and a full lava channel as seen during HVO’s early morning overflight. The visible road is Nohea Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision. Steam generated from heated rain water rose from the tephra deposits and lava flows surrounding fissure 8.” (Full-sized)

As of 10pm HST, we’re still waiting for the next collapse/explosion at the summit. (Should we be calling them explosions any more, or just collapses?)

In the meantime, the USGS has updated the caldera subsidence timelapse from Keanakāko‘i Overlook:

Caption for above timelapse: “This series of images from June 13 through July 7, 2018, show dramatic down-dropping of part of Kīlauea Volcano’s summit caldera floor. For weeks, the summit has subsided in both a continuous fashion, as well as in incremental, jolting drops. The withdrawal of magma from the summit reduces pressure in the shallow magma reservoir. When this reduction becomes too great, rock that forms the floor of Halema‘uma‘u and parts of the surrounding Kīlauea caldera floor slump into the shallow magma reservoir to generate a collapse/explosion event. These events occur about every 24-32 hours. This view, from the Keanakāko‘i Overlook, is toward the north, across the caldera floor.”

July 10 Map of Lava Field

For about a month, Fissure 8’s lava channels have been consistent enough that one USGS update a day was plenty. In the past few days, however, USGS updates have sometimes been out of synch with unconfirmed/unofficial reports from chartered overflights and eyewitnesses on the north side of Kapoho.

Here’s what it looked like at noon today, after most of the overflows apart from the Kapoho Crater bypass had stopped:

July 10, 2018, noon USGS map of lava flows. (Full-sized)
Updates From Other Agencies

For some reason, Civil Defense forgot to put this rather important 6am alert on their website:

[JULY 9] Fire Dept Overflight

Civil Defense just put up a July 9 photo album for the Hawai’i County Fire Department. I assume this was early afternoon yesterday, when blockages and backups in Fissure 8’s lava channel were causing spillovers all over the place:


Looking back west towards Fissure 8:


I’m afraid that may be one more house burning on the left. Hard to be sure; here’s a vid.

North lobe/spillout that was headed for Cinder Rd yesterday and was reported stalled this morning:


Overflight of same area and a little farther downstream. This must be where USGS said yesterday that the braided area was backing up and overflowing:


Steam across Highway 130:


Rain on lava steaming away to clouds:


Here’s the rest of the album (for once, it’s not enormous).

From Local News Outlets

Lava evacuations and natural disasters are never light reading, but I find it much harder to read about humans being rotten to one another.

July 10 Overflight, Bruce Omori

Bruce’s Facebook post this morning gives additional info on what he saw on today’s overflight. Some of his photos:

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Below is the overflow that went west of Kapoho Crater. The camera is facing upriver:

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Close-up of the end of the flow above, on a later pass (note tops of 3-4 palm trees embedded in “toe” of flow pointed towards bottom of picture.)

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Western side-flow around Kapoho Crater:

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ahalanui Warm Pond and Kua O Ka Lā Charter School spared for now:

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

And the monster causing all the problems:

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Here’s the rest of the gallery.

USGS On Social Media

A LIDAR company teaming up with USGS:

Comment: Glad they did the survey. I’m guessing it’ll take a while for the data to be interpreted.
USGS: Actually, the map data is being used to develop more accurate flow path models. We began using it almost immediately.

Q: How many meters has it subsided? (comment on Kilauea caldera subsidence timelapse above).
USGS: We don’t have the exact count on hand, but many of the collapse/explosion events are accompanied by 1-2 meters of subsidence.

Q: On that timelapse, is the camera wobbling or is the caldera rim moving?
USGS: That appears to be su[pe]rficial cracking as support is removed, but we’ve seen some cracking overall in the Keanakakoi area (including buckling of the road where it drops into the inner caldera). The main caldera fault is actually south of Keanakakoi.

Q: Highway 11 about a mile from park entrance has shown some damage. There’s a sign in the area saying it’s a fault zone. Does this mean area of caldera movement is widening?
USGS: Yes, there are several places along Highway 11 that are experiencing cracking and buckling. In one case, we found a lava tube just off the road near the cracking, which suggests to us that road fill was collapsing into a preexisting tube. Some of the cracks on the Ka`u side of the park entrance seem to be due to failure of the road fill. We’re continuing to map these cracks on and off (if observable) the roads and document their sizes, and how they change over time.

July 10, 2018. USGS: “During HVO’s morning overflight today, the dramatic difference in landscapes on the northern and southern sides of the fissure 8 lava channel was readily apparent. With dominant trade winds blowing heat and volcanic gases to the southwest, the north side of the lava channel remains verdant, while, in stark contrast, vegetation on the south side has been severely impacted and appears brown and yellow. The fissure 8 cone is obscured by a cloud of steam (top center).” (Full-sized)

Q: Why does this eruption have so much more volume than 1955, 1960? Shallow reservoir holds less volume, so is this coming from deeper one?
USGS: You’re right about the reservoir volumes — the shallow one beneath the caldera is much smaller, and probably drained to a large extent at this point. The larger reservoir, beneath the south caldera, is larger. As for why this eruption is so much larger than others in the same place, that’s a good question. One possibility is that the summit was pressurized prior to the onset of this eruption. But that’s just an idea, This is one of those questions that gets lots of attention after the activity wanes and there’s a chance to review all of the data that have been collected.

Q: Since there hasn’t been a collapse explosion yet at the summit, does that put pressure on Fissure 8? [Someone I know] said they were watching Fissure 8 and it “had a sort of explosion with some rock substance.”
USGSIt’s an interesting thought, but the summit collapse is not really related to Fissure 8 in the direct way you’ve asked about — the eruption there won’t be able to release any summit stress. The collapse events are due to faults that are slipping because of the removal of support in the subsurface. That’s a process that Fissure 8 can’t alleviate (the fissure can’t release the stress on the faults that are 25 miles away), although Fissure 8 does fundamentally control the process (if it stopped erupting, then the summit would stop collapsing and the M5.3s would stop). We don’t know what the end of the summit collapse will look like — perhaps it will be gradually increasing time between collapse events, or perhaps they will just stop (we would expect the inter-event seismicity buildups to stop as well). As for the “explosion with some rock substance” at Fissure 8, we can only speculate what that might have been, since we didn’t observe the event. It might have been rock from the cone (perhaps the inner part of the cone) collapsing into the vent. Spatter cones are not particularly stable.

Q: In terms of quantity of lava, how does this eruption compare with Mount St. Helens?
USGS: Mount St. Helens mainly erupted ash and tephra, so it’s not the best comparison. MSH erupted about 1.25 cubic km of material, and this eruption hasn’t yet reached half that amount of lava.

Q: Looking at the webcam, it looks like the fountains are almost gone and the river is down. But could be steam clouds obscuring it.
USGSThe fountains are very low, and have been for several days. As for the channel, it’s height seems to fluctuate — at times the upper part is low, but then it fills to nearly overflowing.

Q: Are any other fissures besides 8 and 22 showing signs of activity?
USGS: Many of the other fissures are steaming, but they have been exhibiting this sort of behavior consistently for weeks. We don’t see any changes of note at this point (including in temperature measurements of fissures that are easily accessible), and only see lava coming from Fissures 8 and 22.

[Caption for following video: “Lava oozes from a small breakout near Bryson’s cinder quarry on Kīlauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone. The breakout was part of a small overflow from the fissure 8 lava channel. HVO field crews track the fissure 8 overflows, breakouts and lava channel behavior as conditions allow, and report information to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency.”]

Comment on above video: If you could feel that lava, what would the texture be like? Pudding? Mashed potatoes? Rice in water?
USGS: This isn’t something we’ve ever tried, so it’s hard to say. But one thing we often lose sight of is that this is liquid rock. If you were to throw a stone into the channel, it would not cause a “sploosh,” but instead it would just stick. It’s incredibly viscous and incredibly dense. Very difficult to conceive of, in our opinion…

Q: What does it mean that the lava is stalling?
USGS: stalling = slowing down

Q: What’s the difference between overflow and outbreaks?
USGS: We might sometimes be careless with our language, but there are two different processes that can get lava outside the channel. One is an overflow (which is pretty self explanatory). The other is something we generally refer to as a seep, which is when lava squeezes its way through the levee and comes directly out the side (these are generally quite small). Outbreak is a generic term used to describe any lava flow activity that has left the bounds that it has previously been confined by (be it a channel or tube).
Followup: If a seep develops into a major outbreak, do you upgrade it to a breach or just qualify it as “major,” “minor,” “medium-sized,” etc?
USGSYes, if a seep got really big and undermined the channel, we’d probably call that a breach, and use qualitative qualifiers like major/minor, as you suggested. It’s rather hard to express these things consistently, because what might look “major” to a person who doesn’t have much experience could be “minor” to someone that has experience and knows what “major” really looks like. If that makes any sense…

From 6:30am this morning (continuing a convo yesterday about eyewitness accounts of a flow approaching Cinder Rd):
USGS: That’s right. There was an overflow from the braided section of the channel. However, overnight ground crews report no significant advancement of lava since yesterday’s overflows. Overflight crews will assess at sunrise.

From Other Photographers and Social Media

More upheaval from yesterday:

There’s so much going on in Puna, that I don’t even know where to start… New outbreaks on the lava river are pouring huge sheets of pahoehoe over areas that have thus far avoided inundation. The house I was going to stay in tonight is surrounded by lava, and likely on fire as I type this. The home I am now in on the summit of Kilauea just shuddered and moaned from yet another strong earthquake. My phone app tells me that there have been dozens of them in the last two hours. My cameras have been working overtime; mind and body too, with little sleep, and myriad emotions as I try to balance the dance of destruction and creation. The images of this time are forever burned into my mind. This photo, taken a few weeks ago, represents my new reality. • #spattercone #leilani #puna #kilauea #volcano #hawaii #gbradlewis #KilaueAloHawaii

A post shared by G. Brad Lewis (@gbradlewis) on

And this morning:

And tonight, the view of a lot of people outside the evacuation zone: