The LERZ continues as usual, although there are tantalizing hints that change could be on the way:
Fissure 8 gushes within its large cone, Fissure 22 continues to spatter weakly. The open lava channel from Fissure 8 now ends about 2km (1.2 mi) from the coast:
From the end of the channel, the lava dives under the crust of the slightly older flows that buried Kapoho Bay. It emerges again along a very broad ocean entry:
According to USGS/HVO, the ocean entry is “primarily along the northern section,” as it has been for the past few weeks. However, to judge by today’s @hotseasthawaii overflight, there’s notable ocean entries to the south as well. Besides the lava that reaches the ocean, USGS reported lava “oozing out” to the north and southwest of the main a’a field just inland, as one can see on Friday’s thermal map. A few Kapoho Beach Lots houses are hanging on, threatened by the northern “ooze-out.” The southwestern “ooze-out” — several local photographers have reported an unconfirmed “southern lobe” lava flow— is within a few hundred yards of Ahalanai Warm Pond and Kua O Ka La Charter School:
Screencap from early morning July 8 HotseatHawaii overflight. Ahalanui Warm Pond is just at the end of that straight stretch of Hwy 137, and the school is the light-colored patch just to the right of it. (Full-sized)
The Lower East Rift Zone continues as usual, more or less. Fissure 8’s fountains remain tucked down in their 180′ cone, sending a river towards Kapoho. However, yesterday’s thermal map shows “the channel flow seems to stall about 2km (1.2 mi) inland of the coast.” Instead of entering the ocean from the channel, it’s oozing out here and there along a wide span of the delta, mostly on the north side. Also, lava is oozing out on both sides of the main a’a field, to the north (still menacing the narrow remnants of Kapoho Beach Lots, and it looks like it’s made a bit of a surface flow there) and southwest.
Fissure 22 is weakly spattering. And as of 9pm HST, we’re still waiting for today’s collapse event at the summit.
Apart from the weather, today was a slow news day for Kilauea watchers. So it’s a good time to catch up on this week’s Volcano Watch, HVO’s weekly column:
The Lower East Rift Zone eruption continues pretty much as usual: Fissure 8 feeding a lava river with occasional short-lived overflows. The main lava channel no longer reaches the ocean, but crusts over a half mile from shore and dives into the lava delta, oozing out at multiple points on the northern side. One especially large “ooze-out” makes a short flow on the north side of the flow field near the last few Kapoho Beach Lot Houses, a few of which are hanging on. Fissure 22 is weakly spattering with a weak flow to its east. Today’s summit explosion occurred at 6:04pm, equivalent of M5.3. Thick fog obscured the livestream view.
So that’s all routine, if a volcanic eruption can ever be routine. The big news today actually took place last night (see what happens when I finish my posts early?):
July 5 Volcano Community Meeting
Thursday evening, there was an important community meeting in Volcano Village. Mayor Harry Kim, the USGS and Civil Defense outlined the extremely unlikely but potentially life-threatening (to people near the summit) possibility of large-scale caldera collapse. I’ve transcribed the meeting here. BigIslandVideoNews excerpted the crucial 4-minute presentation from HVO’s Tina Neal:
During the Q&A session, a resident asked about the odds for the worst-case scenario, a large-scale caldera collapse with explosive activity. Harry Kim took the mike from Tina Neal and said, “Like you, we always like to know percentage odds. And she knows; I asked her that. And I’d like to answer because she said, ‘One percent.'” [Tina went on to explain how they arrive at such probabilities; she wasn’t being flippant.]
Another reassuring quote from the Q&A session:
Don Swanson: “I think that the evidence we have today looks to me as if [the subsidence/collapse] is going to be confined to within the caldera, because the outermost circumferential fractures that have been occurring on the caldera floor have not extended outward in the last 2-3 weeks or so. So to me, that suggests that they may be defining the outermost limit of potential caldera collapse.”
Informing the public without panicking them about an extremely unlikely but life-threatening hazard is tricky. So it’s taken the USGS a while to release this document which they’ve been promising the residents of Volcano:
The LERZ eruption continues with minor variations. This morning’s USGS overflight crew observed that Fissure 8’s fountain and lava level in the upper channel appeared to be slightly lower. However, the lava flow rate down at Kapoho Beach Lots —where there were only a few houses left, as of this morning — seems to have picked up slightly. Meanwhile, overflows spilling out from the constricted turn around Kapoho Crater have nearly reached Beach Rd about 0.2 miles north of Four Corners. Lava continues to enter the ocean along a very broad front, mostly on the northern side of the delta.
Fissure 22 is “sporadically spattering,” and its flow may have stalled.
The Italian Space Agency has posted a new satellite radar image of Kilauea Caldera, showing the ongoing subsidence across much of the crater floor (you may have to view full-sized version for the animation):
By the way, if anyone else was confused by recent Hawaii Tribune Herald articles that said SO2 levels had climbed tenfold at the summit, I checked with @USGSVolcanoes, who suggested a minor mixup. That increase is occurring down in the Lower East Rift Zone. At the summit, according to Kyle Anderson during today’s media conference call, SO2 levels have dropped to the level they were before the lava lake first appeared.
Today’s entry is going to be a challenge, because my computer chose a holiday to go pau. Arthritis and dodgy vision versus voice dictation and tablet — who will win?
Today’s eruption summary
The LERZ eruption continues pretty much as usual, with a few minor embellishments to keep field crews on their toes.
Today’s HVO update noted that Fissure 8 “has been pulsing with more vigorous output in 1-3 minute bursts.” When asked for clarification, USGSVolcanoes replied, “No true indication of change.” F8 continues to send lava downriver to Kapoho, where lava is oozing out along most of the broad front and encroaching on Kapoho Ag and Beach Lots properties.
Fissure 22 continues to spatter intermittently and produce a short, sluggish flow:
Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 5:45 am – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: Fissure 22 continues to spatter bits of lava…
…and it still looks like a kid’s science experiment. (It’s hard to tell from overhead, but it’s a perfect steep-sided cone.)
Remember how the lava channel clogged up temporarily around the bend at Kapoho Crater yesterday? It’s still having problems:
I lucked out this morning and caught @HotSeatHawaii ‘s sunrise overflight live, which offered a good view this. Part of the lava is going wide instead of making the sharp turn, though it joins back up around the bend. (More photos below.)
Today’s summit collapse/explosion occurred at 10:19 AM HST. The view was fairly clear today, and the rockfalls were spectacular:
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.
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.”
No major changes in the past 24 hours, except that the lava channel was full and spilling over its levees in a number of places this morning (as seen in this photo by Bruce Omori). For the most part, they weren’t venturing past the boundaries of earlier flows:
Monday, July 2, 2018, 5:45 am – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: A number of breaches of the channels can be seen here, as the fresher lava appears more silvery than the older.
Fissure 8 continues roaring along. With slack tradewinds today, it managed to whip up enough pyrocumulus to set off some localized thunderstorms. Fissure 22 is still spattering and feeding a small flow that’s going nowhere fast. At the ocean end of Fissure 8’s channel, lava is oozing out along a broad part of the lava delta and chewing further into what’s left of Kapoho Beach Lots:
Monday, July 2, 2018, 5:45 am – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: Homes and property in Kapoho are being consumed by the flow's expanding northern boundary.
The latest summit explosion occurred at 1:24am HST July 2, the usual M5.3, with an ash plume ~1200 feet high. Immediately before, there were about 20-25 earthquakes an hour (a little less than in recent days) and dropped to 5/hour immediately afterwards (again, a little less).
[Below is a USGS video of the June 30 collapse/explosion as seen from Volcano House, I think, which gives a good view of the rockfalls all along the bluffs of the caldera walls]:
I haven’t mentioned LERZ seismicity in some time, because it’s been low for weeks. But I notice that section of HVO’s daily Kilauea update was amended starting yesterday. Since May, it’s reported “relatively low seismicity” and “low amplitude background tremor” with “numerous small earthquakes” in the LERZ plus occasional “higher amplitude tremor” near the ocean entry. Now it’s added, “Low amplitude tremor increased slightly on June 29 associated with renewed activity at Fissure 22.”
This post got long, so I’ve moved the Q&A session to Part 3. Again, I’m transcribing what HVO geologists had to say at the June 28 Volcano Village community meeting.
Part 1 was Kyle Anderson’s talk on seismicity and ground deformation— lots of nitty gritty science— while Part 2 was Don Swanson’s slideshow of some of the visible changes he’s observed within Kīlauea Caldera, with a lot of photos I haven’t seen anywhere else.
Here’s the video of the whole meeting.
Here’s my transcription of the Q&A session. A lot of these questions have already been answered online, but I like hearing direct, personal responses from some of the senior HVO scientists: