I’m wiped after following events of the last two nights from 3 timezones later— nothing compared to the exhaustion of Puna residents or HVO geologists, I’m sure— so today’s post is going to be less meticulous.
Today’s Eruption Summary
Sunday and Monday nights, the new monster Fissure 8 tossed fragments high in the air that carried onto houses over a mile away: clinkerly bubbly volcanic cinders (also called tephra), fine glass strands called Pele’s hair, and small volcanic glass droplets called Pele’s tears. Authorities warned people to be careful of Pele’s hair, which is basically natural fiberglass, as it can cause skin and eye irritation.
Another spate of vigorous 200-foot-tall fountaining from Fissure 8 last night sent a second fast-moving flow northeast along the edge of Sunday night’s flow, triggering more emergency evacuations and (I’m afraid, haven’t seen any tally) the loss of more homes. At 6:30am Tuesday, civil defense closed Highway 132 near the geothermal plant in anticipation that lava would reach it today. At 3:30PM, the lava did indeed begin to encroach on 132, leaving only one other road still open to Lower Puna.
Before crossing 132, 8’s northeast lava flow marched towards and into PGV property, cut off plant’s main access road, prompted staff to evacuate, and began to burn and cover over buildings and equipment. I believe sensors have been left to monitor the wells. I’m guessing a’a is a better thing to get covered by: it’s somewhat cooler than pahoehoe, and it can’t seep into cracks.
At the summit, ash eruptions and earthquakes continue. A 2am ash eruption was 15,000 feet tall, followed by a 4.5 earthquake. Light winds are sending the ash nw, towards Volcano and Pahala. There’s a meeting at Pahala tonight to discuss vog and ashfall, which is going to be an ongoing problem for these communities however long this eruptive phase lasts.
At night, the webcam is showing incandescent blocks flung out onto the rim of Halema’uma’u Crater, but we don’t know how big or how many because it’s unsafe for scientists to approach. However, they’re installing a new thermal cam soon that should help them see the blocks. (Source: 11AM conference call)
Time for today’s roundup of USGS bulletins and info, relevant posts by geologists, images and videos, local news reports, and the eruption through the eyes of social media.
Continue reading May 29: Day of Reckoning for PGV (and LavaCam)