So it’s finally arrived, the end (or at least intermission) of Fissure 8’s endless outpouring of lava from May 27 to August 4. The shutdown happened at the end of last week over a period of just 2-3 days.
Fissure 8 isn’t quite dead. There’s lava pooled deep down the cone, bubbling weakly. Residual lava is still draining out of the lava delta into the ocean, some of it quite near the now-famous Pohoiki Boat Ramp. But most of the surface channels have drained and solidified.
The volcano’s summit has settled, too. The caldera floor isn’t inflating or deflating, and the swarms of earthquakes and summit collapses have stopped.
So now the question becomes: how long do geologists, national park staff and residents wait before deciding it’s safe to start repairing the damage? Past Lower East Rift Zone eruptions have paused for days, even weeks. So scientists and officials continue to warn that this eruption could resume at any time.
This week’s Volcano Watch column from Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, written August 9, addresses exactly that question:
I posted the Civil Air Patrol photo from August 7 above, with a brush fire burning on Mauna Loa’s flanks. Here’s two spectacular views from August 9:
And here we are at present, August 12. A hazy day provides more distant views of the caldera from (I think) the northeast rim/Volcano House area.
Crater Rim Drive, down but not out [of sight]!
Lower East Rift Zone: Fissure 8
Thermal maps from the past week show the lava pond in Fissure 8 subsiding and crusting over:
The handheld survey covered a little less area this time, probably reflecting the fact that any lava left beneath the surface of the “Kapoho Lobe” (the more northerly part of the delta) is too insulated/cool for the thermal cam to see.
Isaac Hale Park / Ocean Entry / Delta
I freely admit I called it too soon, and I’m glad I was wrong. It looks like Isaac Hale Park may be salvageable.
Here’s an August 9 overflight video of the LERZ active ocean entry (full-sized video here):
Pardon me for repeating an image, but this is important.
Hopefully that sand bar will discourage looters, who were reportedly using Pohoiki to access homes/properties that were not destroyed by lava, but simply cut off (in mid-May ,lava flows from Fissure 21 reached the coast a little farther to the west).
Looks like nobody’s going to be able to build on the new land for quite some time. Quite apart from the instability of lava deltas, this looks like rough terrain:
Considering complaints about looters, having the boat ramp silted up may be a blessing, until residents can return and start salvaging their homes and farms. (For a while, the boat ramp provided the only access point to homes/farms cut off by earlier lava flows reaching the ocean to the southwest in May, and Fissure 8’s lava delta to the northeast.)
Maps of LERZ this week
Before I forget, here’s this week’s two maps.
It’s subtle, but I think they show less lava at the ocean entry points. Also, that overflow just west of Kapoho Crater had stopped by August 9:
Last but not least, here’s a few…
Photos of HVO Fieldwork
Just as they’re keeping an eye on Pu’u O’o although it seems to have gone to sleep for good, they’re still watching and checking for cracks on the roads of much-beleaguered Leilani Estates, where the lava eruption started.
I started this post too late. Stay tuned; I’ll be doing a scour of other official agencies, local news media, social media and photographers tomorrow. [UPDATE: here’s the “tomorrow” followup post.]