July 14: Aloha to Pohoiki

July 14, 2018. USGS: ” Early morning view of fissure 8 and lava channel looking toward the east. Laze plume from the ocean entry is visible in distance (left of the fissure 8 plume). Geologists did not observe activity from any of the other fissures during this morning’s overflight.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

The Lower East Rift Zone eruption has settled back into a routine. Unfortunately, that routine includes the far end of Fissure 8’s lava flow crawling south along the coast, eating landmarks in its path. Isaac Hale Park/Pohoiki boat ramp (see flow map) is next in line. The morning USGS overflight reported that the flow front was about 1km away.

Friday evening, July 13, 2018, 6:00 pm – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: Lava continues to pour into the sea at…

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Saturday, July 14, 2018

That little island is still there this morning.

Fissure 8 continues to erupt into its perched channel, with its volume surging after yesterday’s 7:08pm summit collapse (Mag 5.3) and returning to lower levels by morning. That pulse caused a brief overflow on the east/southeast of the channel a short way downstream from the vent, but it stayed on the apron of previous flows.

The channelized a’a flow west of Kapoho Crater continues to be the main conduit to the ocean and to the active flow expanding southwards along the shore. North of this, lava continues to “ooze out” at various points along the June-early July flow front, whose length now totals 6km  (3.7 miles).

July 14, 2018. USGS: “White laze plumes mark locations where lava enters the ocean over a broad area. An open lava channel flows into the ocean at the southern-most plume (middle) near the southern flow margin. The boat ramp at Pohoiki is about 940 m (0.58 mi) farther south of the flow margin. View is toward the west-southwest.” (Full-sized)

While there’s no sign of activity at any fissures besides 8, the tiny island that popped up just offshore of Kapoho yesterday is still there for now.

Odds & Ends

National Weather Service warned of weekend showers and possible thunderstorms, which can be turbo-boosted by the heat of the lava flow causing updrafts and instability.

Slow news day today, giving me time to catch up on this week’s Volcano Watch column (Hawaiian Volcano Observatory): “Many forms of sulfur are found on Kilauea Volcano

And while Iain Stewart doesn’t have much to do with Kilauea, except when recording volcano documentaries, I gotta celebrate one of my favorite geologists receiving a well-earned accolade:

Bonus: he’s the only person I’ve ever heard say Halema’uma’u with a Scottish accent. [Timestamp 1:58 in that video.]

From Local News Media

After a flurry of articles marking the eruption’s 10-week mark, Hawaiian news outlets are taking a weekend break.

Bruce Omori Friday Evening Overflight

The @HotSeatHawaii gang took a 6pm overflight yesterday. A few photos cross-posted to Bruce’s Facebook page:

Friday evening, July 13, 2018, 6:00 pm – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: The flow that overran Ahalanui Beach Park…

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Saturday, July 14, 2018

Friday evening, July 13, 2018, 6:00 pm – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: A tiny island has formed near the north end of the ocean entry in Kapoho, as a subaquatic tube feeds a flow on it.

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Saturday, July 14, 2018

Friday evening, July 13, 2018, 6:00 pm – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: Fissure continues to rage on, feeding the massive perched channel of lava in Leilani Estates.

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Saturday, July 14, 2018

Friday evening, July 13, 2018, 6:00 pm – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: The braided channel glows with intensity as night falls over the eruption zone.

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Saturday, July 14, 2018

Friday evening, July 13, 2018, 6:00 pm – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: Lava exits fissure 8 via a narrow channel, creating a multitude of textures as it transitions into the perched channel.

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Saturday, July 14, 2018

More photos of the tiny island, braided lava channel, Fissure 8 and flow approaching Pohoiki on his lava update blog post for this overflight.

USGS on Social Media Q&A

Q: [Can divers get close enough to film underwater activity?]
USGS: It’s been done with ROVs, but mostly with calmer eruptions in deeper water. At the ocean entry now, the water is still very hot and acidic and there are littoral explosions happening, so it would be very hazardous for a diver.

Q (Mark Landers): This afternoon the lava flowing out of #8 was pulsing wildly, it would rage and splash higher than I’ve ever seen it then go nearly flat. Ever the optimist I think any change is good. I want to believe that it is like the last drops of water flowing out of a hose; some water, some air. Could this be possible?

USGSYes, we were documenting swings of ~5 minutes between some waxing and waning of the fissure activity. It’s not clear what this means, although the “last drops from the hose” is a possibility. Eruptions usually end with a whimper and not a bang, so some sputtering is expected during the closing phases of eruption. But eruptions also often turn back on after these sputtering phases, so it’s too early to say what the outcome of this will be.

Q: [So the lava’s flowing west of Kapoho Crater now, bypassing the original channel?]
USGS: It appears so. There is probably still molten material in the original channel that’s making its way seaward – it’s just not visible.

Q: [Can lava “erode” the floor of its channel, or does it just build up its banks and  bed?]
USGS: Yes. Lava can thermally erode downward as it flows – that’s a well known phenomenon in lava tube systems.

[Discussion about Kapoho Crater, which USGS say formed 400 years ago] 
Q: [A crater that big must’ve had bigger lava fountains than we’ve seen in this eruption, right?]
USGS: Not necessarily – it’s volume and duration more than height that form a big cone. But, fountaining in the fissure eruptions in this area has been much higher in the past, up to 500 m (over 1600 ft)!

Q: [Can the cone grow even if the fountains don’t get taller?]
USGS: As long as lava can spatter up over the edges of the cone, it can add to the cone’s heigh. Right now it’s mostly roiling within the crater, so the growth phase for this cone has paused.

Q: [Do the former property owners still own the land where Fissure 8 sprouted?]
USGS: Indeed, they do. The land does not change hands, regardless of the volcanic activity.
Q (Allan Lowe): Does the lower channel volume create to a lower eruption rate? If so, is there a compilation between a lower eruption rate and the longer interval between summit collapse events? Also, how does the current eruption volume compare to the average output of Pu’u O’o?
USGS:  Yes, the lower channel volume does appear to mean a lower eruption rate, but we don’t think it has any relation to the longer time period between summit collapses, since that is controlled by fault motion at the summit. it may mean that the rate of summit depressurization is decreasing, which would mean lower eruption rates and more time between collapse events… As for a comparison with Pu`u `O`o, the lower East Rift Zone ha erupted about 1/8 the volume of the total Pu`u `O`o eruption. Of course, Pu`u `O`o took 35 years, and the current activity has taken 2.5 months…

Q: [I read that 500 million cubic meters have left the summit. Is that true and how do you measure? And can you measure Fissure 8’s erupted volume?]
USGS: The numbers we get in both places are a little squishy. At the summit, we determine the volume change by looking at the change in topography (basically, before minus after). That number is around 500 million cubic meters. At the lower East Rift Zone, we use a combination of topographic change and lava flux in the channel to estimate something in the same range. but there is a lot of uncertainty since, for example, we don’t know the depth of the channel. It’s a critical set of numbers, but surprisingly hard to get accurate results!

Q: Has it hit the water table yet?
USGSThe lava level at the summit actually dropped below the water table back in mid-May, shortly before the small explosions began from the former summit eruptive vent on May 16.

Q: [Is the summit crater floor dropping a result of lava erupting at Fissure 8? How much could it drop before triggering explosive activity?]
USGS: Summit is collapsing b/c magma that was once stored there has moved laterally into the East Rift Zone. #Halemaumau floor has dropped about 1000 ft since subsidence began. Here’s a document discussing possible hazard scenarios at the summit. https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vsc/file_mngr/file-184/Summit%20scenarios_7-5-18.pdf …

Q: ISS is passing over Kilauea next week; can you ask someone to take pictures?
USGS: USGS Volcanoes You’d have to ask NASA about that. They’ve gotten some good photos in the past — for example,

Nice geeky thread about magma/lava on Facebook….

Dane DupontWhat was the date or fissure that lava from Pu’u O’o was first detected? I remember the was reports about a mix of ‘new lava’ coming from Fissure 17, but heard that was retracted. Just can’t find much about the composition of the lava.

USGS: Actually, Fissure 17 was a weird one — it was erupting a very evolved composition that had clearly been sitting in the rift zone for a long time (older than 1955, which was what we were seeing out of the other fissures). As we recall, the first sign of Pu`u `O`o composition was in mid-May (around May 12 or so) and came from the Fissure 20/22 area, but that part of the story will become clearer once we’ve formally done the full geochemistry on all collected samples.

Charles Gregory: This really makes me wonder how a body of magma can be kept at a liquid temperature for more than half a century without a direct source of heat to offset the slow shedding of heat into the surrounding rocks. Certainly, rock is a ‘good insulator’, but is it really so good that magma can stay liquified for so long? If so, does this explain post-shield-stage volcanism? That is, long after the volcano has been transported away from the hot spot, is it stray near-surface magma bodies being ‘squeezed to the surface’ (or released?) by tectonic events? How close to the surface? How close to the surface as the 1955 magma stored?

USGS: We’re not really sure how post-shield volcanism works, having never observed it. That’s one of the many poorly understood aspects of Hawaiian volcanoes. But magma can stay liquid for a long time beneath the surface. Back in about 2005, drilling in Hawaii intersected a body of very old magma (a quite-evolved dacite) at about 2.5 km depth!

Allan Lowe: Where was that drilling done?

USGS: That was near PGV.
Arthur Wierzchos: How old might a quite evolved dacite be?
USGS: Good question — we don’t really know. Probably at least hundreds of years, and quite possibly thousands.
Oh look! rumor whack-a-mole is back!

A rather more restrained rumor than the conspiracy theories and scaremongering from earlier in the eruption, however:

Q: Will volcanoes be more active when a lot of planets are lined up on one side of the sun June 19? Also it’s Grand Solar Minimum.
USGS: Planetary alignment has no effect on volcanoes. Even you aligned all the planets, their combined effect would only equal about 2% of the Moon’s gravity, and we already question whether the Moon (which is a lot closer) can have an effect on volcanic activity.

From Other Photographers & Social Media

Slow news day, so I had time to browse Instagram tags. I made myself sad hunting for photos of Pohoiki:

Finally: Distressing report from social media. Ikaika Marzo, if you haven’t been following local news enough to know about this selfless community leader, is a trustworthy source:

🚨 HONU TRAPPED INSIDE BOWLS / POHOIKI. NOAA has been contacted. They must approve rescue. That’s not happening. Red Tape? Maybe a day or two before it’s too late. What we know: 40-50 turtles are at Bowls + some inside 1st Bay Pohoiki The lava flow is 100 yards from Bowls as of this morning Current is pulling the hot water south. Fish trying to cross outside the bay are killed immediately. The fresh water sources inside the area are (for now) keeping cooler water within the bays. Turtles are staying near fresh water entries / Campbell pond / where it flows in over broken road. This may be why turtles have remained so long in the area. Someone who has been helping with evacs via the boat ramp this week saw the turtles at Bowls, low tide, stacked up 40-50 some atop each other on the rocks trying to get to the cooler water / fresh water area. He’s been trying to alert gov entities of the oncoming crisis. NOAA have equipment to do the rescue. He did get approval from DLNR to use the boat ramp. Last chance for boat rescue may be by tomorrow. Helicopter may be needed, weather dependent. Laze will now need to be factored in. There is also active flow areas above heading towards Pohoiki (not certain the status) Unless there is a major shift, Pohoiki will be gone by Monday or Tuesday if not sooner. Bowls likely sooner. There may be no press coverage about this now, but guaranteed press when people find out what happened. Please share. Attached photos from Ikaiki (added text to try to illustrate what’s going on). mahalo #prayforpuna #prayforpohoiki #kilauea #kilaueavolcano #hawaiiisland #bigisland #bigislandhawaii #hawaiihonu #hawaiilava #pohoiki @sustainablecoastlineshawaii @pakalohabikinis @khonnews @hawaiinewsnow @ikaikamarzo @surfrider @mauioceancenter

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I hope Marzo just does what needs to be done, although he’s been pretty good about going through official channels to get permission for his animal rescue efforts from the areas cut off by lava.

Wow, what a grim note to end on. Here’s a coda.

… life finds a way.