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.”
Fissure 8 gushes on unchallenged and unchanged, while Fissure 22 — remember the chief subject of Lavacam?— has started spattering 50-80m and sending out a modest lava flow headed NE along the edge of previous flows.
Down at the coast, lava continues to ooze out from under much of the northern part of the delta along a broad front, with “pasty” lava squeezing out in several places along Kapoho Beach Lots.
As of 8:30pm 11pm HST, I’m waiting for confirmation of the next summit collapse/explosion.
Besides Fissure 22 reactivating in earnest, the news today is that new digital elevation maps and satellite images give us a clear view of the subsidence of Kilauea Caldera around Halema’uma’u, which has begun to show in livestream and webcam views lately.
First of all, USGS seismologist Kyle Anderson posted this color-coded slide of caldera ground deformation in his Thursday evening talk:
Next, the Italian Space Agency’s trusty Cosmo-Skymed satellite has sent us another radar survey of Kilauea. Even though I’d observed dramatic subsidence of the caldera floor in recent livestream and webcam images, the last frame of this animation made me gasp:
We are well on our way to a nested caldera, with Halema’uma’u taking up over half the larger caldera floor. I’m hoping those earthquakes indicate where the edge of the new inner caldera will be, but I’m not a geologist. Here’s those scarps they mentioned, posted a few days ago:
Last but not least, the USGS posted this map of the fracturing around Halema’uma’u. Note that the diagram is projected onto a satellite photo of the pre-May caldera, so there’s a ghostly image of the Halema’uma’u we remember in that dark gray area.
So there you have it. Who would’ve thought the draining of the lava lake, which was minuscule compared to the whole summit caldera, would’ve had a domino effect this large?
Fissure 8 continues to behave much as it has for the last month or so, looking ever more like a Mordor backdrop:
Today’s official HVO Kilauea update is a copy-and-paste of yesterday’s, apart from this small addition describing the lava delta: “lava is moving beneath the crust and into [the] still-molten interior of earlier flows before it enters the sea in multiple oozeouts.” Like this:
Unfortunately, some of those “oozeouts” are occurring at the edge of Kapoho Beach Lots as well. At least one home burned today, perhaps more.
Check the Hawaii County Fire Department photos later in this post (or the Bruce Omori photos at the end of the post) to see what the slow-moving expansion into Kapoho Beach Lots looks like right now.
Kilauea’s summit is changing visibly day by day. Today’s collapse explosion came at 2:51pm, 31 hours after the previous event. Mag 5.3, as usual, with a 500-foot ash-poor plume (captured on livestream). It was somewhat obscured by dust from multiple rockfalls 3 minutes earlier. Here’s a before-and-after:
Fissure 8 and the summit explosions continue their status quo. However, for the last few days, the lava flow at Kapoho has been encroaching on new areas on its northern and southern boundaries at the coast.
At least 3 more Kapoho Beach Lot houses have burned on the north side, and the southern edge of the flow is burning vegetation and/or farmland west of Highway 137. I gather these new lateral outbreaks are due to the lava channel crusting over, about half a mile inland from the new coastline (see Wednesday’s thermal map). So instead of pouring straight from the channel into the ocean, lava is fanning out under the crust of the 2-mile-wide lava delta laid down earlier this month, then oozing out the sides.
[USGS drone footage of Fissure 8 from before dawn. They’re using drones for the first time to map flows, look for outbreaks and measure the lava river’s speed.]
At Kilauea’s summit, today’s collapse explosion occurred at 7:51am HST, June 29, with an ash-poor steam plume that rose 500 feet. (Steam?)The energy release dropped slightly to 5.2. I didn’t do a video capture, since the summit was blanketed in morning fog.
The “new news” today is that HVO has added two new views to its Kilauea Webcams page. One I’ve mentioned before, the old “Kilauea East” webcam from HVO’s 1990s website which has annoying reflections but a great view of the subsidence/collapse on the east side of Halema’uma’u Crater:
The other is a new heat-sensitive webcam which should make it possible to see “collapse explosions” at night:
Also, in this week’s “Volcano Watch” newsletter, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists explain the “piston” model they’ve developed to account for the daily collapse explosions at the summit:
This is big news. They’ve solved the mystery of the summit explosions! Subject to revision, of course; they’re still untangling the complexities of Kilauea’s current eruption. But the “piston” model accounts for the cyclical pattern they’re seeing better than the “steam explosion” model.
Exactly 8 weeks after the Lower East Rift Zone eruption began in Leilani Estates on May 3, Fissure 8 continues to gush unabated. Its fountains are contained within its 55-meter (180 ft) cone, and this morning’s overflight showed no active overflows.
For the past day or so, the lava river has crusted over on the last half mile to the ocean. This has allowed lava seeps, described by Steve Brantley in his Tuesday evening talk, to creep into still-molten earlier flows on the northern side of the lava delta. This “lava seepage” is oozing into the ocean along a broad front, encroaching onto what’s left of Kapoho Beach Lots on the northern edge of the flow:
At Kilauea’s summit, the most recent collapse explosion occurred at 4:49am this morning, sending up an ash-poor plume about 1000 feet, with the energy release of a 5.3 earthquake. The sides of Halema’uma’u continue to collapse inward and downwards, especially during each explosive event.
The big news today is that the National Park Service and USGS arranged a brief escorted tour for local news media to the rim of Kilauea Caldera, which has been closed to visitors for 49 days. There was also a half hour press briefing.
So today there’s suddenly a lot more videos and views of what the caldera looks like:
Here’s an excellent 13-minute retrospective of Kilauea’s eruptions from the early 20th century right through June 25, 2018.
Now back to the present.
Today’s Eruption Summary
It’s 11:30pm HST, and it looks like today’s “collapse explosion” is going to happen tomorrow. Are the explosion spacing themselves out more now? Too early to tell. There has been always some variation in their timing, despite the fact that it feels like we’re watching a magmatic equivalent of Old Faithful.
Meanwhile, Fissure 8 continues exactly what it has for— what, a month now? Fountains contained within its 180-foot spatter cone continue to pour out an 8-mile river of lava. Occasional spillovers near the head of the river usually don’t go past the margin of previous flows in this eruption. Fissure 22 is once again showing “incandescence” and pushing out small, short lava flows.
The ocean entry area fans out across a 1-km stretch of coast, but the bulk of the lava is dumping into the sea from Fissure 8’s main channel. Unfortunately, the northern margin of the lava flow has reactivated, too, pushing further into what’s left of Kapoho Beach Lots community.
Eruption Update for June 27 at 4PM. Due to active lava near houses in Kapoho, access by residents is not allowed. No additional houses have been destroyed at this time.
Fissure 8 just keeps on going, as if it’s settling in for a Pu’u O’o eruption rather than a 1955/1960 eruption. Once again, there’s minor overflows upriver that don’t go anywhere. The ocean entry is mostly via the channel on the south side of the lava delta, but there’s also trickles along a kilometer-wide stretch of shore. Fissure 22 showed incandescence but no lava during the USGS morning overflight.
The USGS was skimpy on images today but gave us a treat: a timelapse of what they call “lava boats.”
Here’s their explanation: “Geologists captured this time-lapse video of the perched lava channel issuing from fissure 8 on Kīlauea’s lower East Rift Zone. Rafts of accreted lava move down stream and look like boats moving down a river. These are termed lava balls or lava boats and form when portions of the fissure 8 cone or levees break away and are rafted down stream. As they move along in the channel, additional lava can cool to their surface to form accretionary lava balls.”
After lots of minor earthquakes and rockfalls that sent up small plumes of dust, the daily summit “collapse explosion” occurred at 4:34pm. It sent up a 2000-foot plume, once again equivalent to 5.3 earthquake. Again, I couldn’t resist a video capture:
The runup to today’s explosion was impressive. There was one cascade of dust and rubble all the way around the walls that I would’ve taken for the day’s explosive event, except that there was no camera shake beforehand. Doubtless it was one of these:
There’s not much news today, so let’s hitch a ride with the Hawaii County Fire Department and follow the lava river to the ocean. But first….
More on Lava Boats
I’d asked about the “lava boats” before that video was posted: “What’s forming those so-called “lava bergs”? Are they chunks off the sides of the levees? Do they indicate erosion/undermining of lava channel’s banks analogous to meanders of an H20 river, with risk of wearing through?”
@USGSVolcanoes offered some additional info in response: “They are chunks of the sides of levees as well as bits of the cone. As lava moves by them in the channel, they can be coated, dislodged, etc. Different than water – lava cools against cooler surfaces (channel sides) & we’ve started to see portions roofing over (forming tubes).” And when someone else asked if the whole 8 mile channel might become a lava tube: “It’s a possibility, but not necessarily guaranteed. It’s easier in places where the channel is already narrow.”
Which doesn’t answer my question about erosion/meanders, but looking back, they answered another question about braided lava channels on June 11 with this paper, which emphasizes that viscosity is a major factor in lava flows, whereas in H2O it’s particles in water.
Someone else’s Q on “lava boats”: ” Are these what’s floating beyond the ocean entry? USGS: That’s a different process. The chunks floating beyond the ocean entry are bits of very bubble-rich lava-rock. When lava enters the sea there is sometimes an explosive process that expels rocks – the heat of the rock combined with the amount of bubbles causes these pieces to float for a while. Eventually, they cool, fill with water, and sink.
Awkward place to stick this, but so I don’t forget: this week’s HVO “Volcano Watch” newsletter focused on “Mauna Loa Back to Normal.“
More USGS on Social Media
Q: What will happen if the summit collapse continues? USGS: There are several options: It could enlarge #Halemaumau to a point and then the explosive activity could stop, or it could enlarge the crater and the explosions could change character.
Aha! It turns out the USGS posted photos today only on Facebook. Someday when things calm down, they need to comb their social media channels and make sure they’ve archived everything on the HVO website and/or USGS media library.
If the USGS is too busy to post photos, the Hawai’i County Fire Department takes up the slack. (Unlike Facebook, Flickr is Google-able). Today Civil Defense shared their latest photo album, and once again I’m impressed by the definition of the camera they’re using compared to everybody else.
A small sample:
Looking southeast towards the “Y” junction at Pokoihi Rd, Kapoho Rd and 132 (Google Map) with Puna Geothermal Ventures in the background on the left:
Left and right, as different as night and day:
A disagreeable neighbor:
Looking towards the new lava delta:
Past the Lava Rooster house (near that mast):
Past the Cinder Pit:
Around Kapoho Crater (and former Green Lake):
To the sea. (Note upwelling.)
Effects extend offshore…
So far, so lucky. (Note the 1960 lava flow with roads on it.)
(warning: helicopter noise)
Sorry, got carried away. But there’s another 98 photos/videos in that album, including video all along the route and detailed views of houses, farms, even a dock.
A lot of the landscape resembles a hell-like atmosphere. The stench of sulfur, the rumble of the lava boil, and death as far as the eye can see. It's both magical and extraordinarily sad. #KilaueaEruptionpic.twitter.com/XWzQcbDX4u
Summit: Today’s “Type A” explosion occurred at 1:52am. It produced almost no ash this time, although there’s still light ash and SO2 coming out of the crater from time to time. The view of the continued slumping/subsidence of Halema’uma’u crater is impressive (also see Jun 9 video on Twitter):
Fissure 8’s cluster of vents is erupting up to 160ft today. With the cinder cone that’s built up around them, they’re mostly hidden. It’s entering the ocean today along a broad front. Fissure 16/18 are spattering weakly; this is the “weak activity” reported for the past few days. Apart from that, the Lower East Rift Zone is quiet, although other fissures are still releasing gasses.
Fissure 8 on #Kilauea's Lower East Rift Zone #LERZ – a nursery of volcanic bombs and spatter. Expanding volcanic gases rip the clots of lava apart as they rise through the air, forming ejecta of myriad shape and size. Photos taken on June 11. pic.twitter.com/E9iYbD9Zp8
The good news is, Fissure 8’s lava flow has built up such high, broad banks that unless it overflows them, it probably won’t cover many more homes or cut off new areas. The bad news is, the lava river could still break its levees, and there’s no guarantee other fissures won’t reactivate. USGS field crews reported a “non-erupting crack” in the Lower East Rift Zone with “temperatures as high as 430°C (806°F).”
Note, however, high temps may not indicate imminent changes. USGS clarified on Facebook: “This was at Fissure 10, which has long displayed high temperatures (fortunately, no SO2 was detected). It does not mean an eruption there is imminent, but rather it is a place where various superheated gases are escaping.” Similarly, there’s been high temps at the cracks across Highway 130, which have steamed but so far not erupted at all.
Somewhat abbreviated Daily Digest today because I started late, and then took forever transcribing 11AM conference call. But the stunning pictures keep coming…
Fissure8’s “three closely space fountains” are starting to climb down, reported at 115-130 feet last night, and “fluctuating heights from below the 115 ft high spatter cone around it up to 180 feet” this afternoon. But its lava flow is still full to its banks, entering the ocean in Kapoho with minor steam explosions. “Weak lava activity” was spotted at fissure 16/18 last night.
Last night, Kilauea’s summit hiccuped: there was a small explosion at 12:46am, after which, seismicity did not drop off until after another, larger explosion at 4:43am like the ones we’ve seen lately (registered as M5.4).
Since Saturday, Fissure 8’s gas emissions have been much higher than last week, whereas summit SO2 is half what it was before the current eruption. (I’m not sure why HVO’s Kilauea alerts report “volcanic gasses” for one and only SO2 for the other.)
(The “Lava Livestream” house is still safe, if marooned, near white mast):
Here’s a double feature from Mick Kalber’s daily overflights— below is his June 11 lava video, but I missed his June 10 flyover vid and lava update notes.
Below the cut: more great images, overflight vids, and some interesting USGS answers to questions on social media.