I write with a heavy heart tonight.
While Kilauea claims homes, possessions, and places people loved— and animals, sadly— it’s a relatively benign volcano (as long as it remains in its lava-gushing “effusive phase”). Its “ballistic rocks” can’t fly much farther than half a mile. Ash and vog hamper quality of life, but aren’t instantly deadly. Its lava moves slowly enough for people to escape. Lava creates new land while it destroys, and it breaks down eventually into fertile soil. While it’s destructive, it’s also beautiful:
This is a "waterfall" of lava pouring into Green Lake that is inside the Kapoho Crater on Green Mountain. The lake…
That’s the life’s blood of a shield volcano like Kilauea. But there’s another kind of volcano I’ve mentioned before: stratovolcanoes like Krakatoa and Mount St. Helens. Their silica-rich, stiff, sticky lava piles up into steep mountains that can bottle up tremendous pressure before letting go. I’m afraid that’s probably what happened in Guatemala today.
Careless news media (even the BBC!) are claiming that a river of lava from volcan del Fuego killed over 20 people and injured dozens more. But all the videos I saw (apart from videos of Leilani Estates passed off as Guatemala) show pyroclastic flows:
— Entropía (@Sunlight_lovee) June 3, 2018
Not that scary-looking, eh? But nighttime shows the true face of a pyroclastic flow (Sinabung, Indonesia).
Dr. Janine Krippner pointed out this brief informative video explaining what pyroclastic flows are and why they’re so dangerous. Here’s the Spanish language version. Hearing-impaired? See What Is a Pyroclastic Flow? or ¿Qué son los flujos piroclásticos?
Please spare some compassionate thoughts for the Guatemalans caught in this eruption. Most of them probably thought those gray clouds were just (cooled) ash, like what’s irritating Hawaiians living downwind from Halema’uma’u. (No, Kilauea’s not going to do that.)
Today’s kilauea eruption summary
As for Kilauea, the main news today was fissure 8’s lava flow making its finall approach to the shore through the Kapoho Beach Lots/Vacationland area.
And as if in response to news media headlines claiming it’s “fallen quiet,” the summit woke up again with a whole popcorn-popper’s worth of earthquakes, including a beefy M5.5 in the afternoon and an ash cloud rising to 8,000 feet.
Here’s my daily digest of Kilauea eruption news, including:
- Updates/info from the USGS and other geologists
- eruption news from Hawaii Civil Defense
- Local news stations covering the eruption and its impact
- relevant social media posts by informed eyewitnesses