Fissure 8’s eight-mile lava river and the summit’s daily explosion have followed their usual pattern of the past two weeks. However, volcanic gas emissions at the Lower East Rift Zone doubled on Saturday compared to the past week, while SO2 emissions from Halema’uma’u are about half what they were before this current eruption started.
Are those two facts linked? I dunno. I’ll be interested to hear if/when lava samples collected from the Fissure 8 flow start to show signs they came down from the summit instead of Pu’u O’o.
Before-and-After Halema’uma’u 2017 vs 2018
I found a July 2017 screencap from HVO’s panorama webcam, so here’s an animation fading from it to today’s view. Check out the full-sized animation; you can really see how much Halema’uma’u has enlarged.
Below: slow news day, lots of photos.
Be warned, there’s some sad news, especially in the social media section at the end. This is a natural disaster, and it’s hard, even if it provides some amazing visuals and fascinating science as compensation. But they can’t make up for what’s lost.
One gets the sense that crisis mode is giving way to some sort of new normal, as it did during the decades of the Pu’u O’o eruption. Not that one can ever call this normal:
Still, public meetings are no longer dominated by talk about lava, fissures, and SO2 so much as how to collect on insurance and find housing. The USGS has dropped weekend video briefings to give its staff a much-needed break (alerts/info are still posted on the HVO website). Hawaiian news outlets are reverting to a more typical news cycle, with only 1-2 new Kilauea updates a day.
At the summit, steam/ash explosions continue their recent pattern. Today’s explosion registered as M5.2 at 4:48am, shaking the village of Volcano; it was felt as far away as Hilo. (Local radar is still out, but the ash cloud was small, less than 10,000 feet, since satellites can spot bigger ones).
Halema’uma’u is looking very ragged around the edges:
In the Lower East Rift Zone, Fissure 8’s fountain has tapered off slightly, down to 130-160ft with occasional bursts up to 200ft, but its lava river is still going strong. As of 6:30am, the new lava delta at Kapoho had grown to 200 acres. An elevated section of the flow near Lava Tree State Park caused some concern this afternoon when it started overflowing its levee, but it settled back into the main channel without a major breakout.
Fissure 8 continues to do its thing (fountains up to 230 ft today), pumping a vast river of lava towards Kapoho. Its flow front is about a mile wide where it meets the ocean. USGS reported ~190 acres of new land added to Hawaii as of noon. Some or all of this may be temporary, since “lava deltas” tend to collapse.
[Above: 2 photos from Hawaii County Fire Department’s extensive videos/photos for June 8. Good to browse if you’re checking on homes in Kapoho.]
Summit activity continues to follow its geyser-like cyclical pattern. Earthquakes increased until 2:44 AM, when there was an explosion (equivalent of M5.4), after which seismicity died down. Pu’u O’o also had a small earthquake (3.2) and rockfalls today, sending up a red plume of ash. (Still hunting for photos, but it’s been reported several places.)
East and southeasterly winds sent an unpleasant amount of vog over Hilo and the Saddle. This will continue through Saturday, then tradewinds come to the rescue.
These days, it seems like every time we think the eruption’s settled into a kind of equilibrium, it ramps up its activity in one way or another, so I’m sure this headline will be obsolete by morning.
But for today, Kilauea’s new status quo still holds: increasing numbers of summit earthquakes leading up to an ash/gas explosion (yesterday’s was 5.6); fissure 8 pouring out a river of lava adding new real estates to former Kapoho Bay. Updated count in homes lost jumps to ~600, most during the past week when 8’s wide flow covered shore communities.
“Lava fountaining at Fissure 8 fluctuated with heights varying between 190 and 215 feet. This activity is feeding a lava channel flowing east to the ocean entry in the Kapoho Bay area. The noon overflight found that the delta is about 1.2 mi wide in the Vacationland/Waopae area and observed the flow was expanding northward through Kapoho Beachlots. A large area of upwelling offshore suggests the presence of lava flowing on the ocean floor in that area.” —HVO alert June 7, 4:24 HST
Easterly winds tomorrow may blow more vog, particulates, and Pele’s hair over populated areas to the west.
No significant changes; afternoon overflight grounded due to bad weather; summit seismicity climbing, and a small explosion is expected overnight based on patterns of previous events. pic.twitter.com/qVj0nqn4ge
This is something that hasn’t really come up, and I think it’s important to hear: a frank reply from USGS Wendy Stovall and Leslie Gordon during a media conference call about the psychological impact of this eruption on scientists.
Images, more videos, and info (including science segment of this conference call) after the cut.
Last night, USGS scientist Steve Brantley explained the current eruption in an informative 10 minute talk. I transcribed it as a separate post, but here’s a rough summary: Magma heading down to the Lower East Rift Zone is causing the summit to deflate. Deflation is causing a pattern of more and more earthquakes over 30-50 hours until the summit releases the strain with an explosion, accompanied by an ash cloud.
Sure enough, there was an M5.6 explosion and 10,000 foot ash cloud at 4:32pm. HVO’s Twitter account had a great impromptu Q&A session about it (see below).
Meanwhile, down in the Lower East Rift Zone, Fissure 8 shows no signs of slowing. It’s wiped out Vacationland and nearly all of Kapoho Beach Lots, and is continuing to create new (crumbly, hazardous) beachfront real estate.
USGS has also been posting some striking imagery today.
Video description: “HVO’s mid-day overflight on June 5 shows ongoing partial collapse of Halema‘uma‘u at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. To the north of the former visitor Overlook parking area (closed in 2008) is the site of the former lava lake—now a deep hole piled with wall-rock rubble. The western portion of Halema‘uma‘u has moved down and toward the center of the crater as new cracks form on the caldera floor to the west. Kīlauea’s summit continues to subside due to withdrawal of magma towards the volcano’s East Rift Zone.”
They’ve also posted drone footage of Fissure 8 lava flow on June 3. Houses give a sense of scale:
There was another small predawn ash explosion up at Kilauea’s summit, where we can now watch the changes to Halema’uma’u Crater (see below). HI Civil Defense, the Dept. of Health and EPA have set up a new network of sensors to monitor and report air quality in realtime, which should help the rest of the island.
Of course, that’s not the whole story for today. There’s new images and videos, USGS updates and info, articles on the eruption’s impact from local Hawaiian news outlets, and eyewitness reports and reactions on social media. So here’s the usual daily roundup of Kilauea eruption news.
Lava coverage ~7.7 square miles, 19.9 square km, 4917 acres.
Janet Snyder, spokesperson from Hawai’i County Mayor’s Office, says at least 117 homes destroyed, but Civil Defense admin Talmadge Magno says probably “a lot more”
Here’s a video clip and two screengrabs to sum up Kilauea’s activity today: a half-mile-wide a’a flow pouring into Kapoho Bay and slowly filling it, while the summit steams weakly after a 5.5 earthquake yesterday.
Screengrabs from the Halema’uma’u and LERZ webcams about 3pm:
ETA: Oh, look. Perfect angle of the sun right now.
Additional info from HVO morning status report: “Local videographers reported that lava entered the ocean at Kapoho Bay at about 10:30 PM HST on June 3. […] A lava breakout is also occurring upslope [north] of the Kapoho cone cinder pit, with active flows about 330 yards southeast of the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Cinder Road.. […]Following the small [M5.5] explosion at about 3:50 PM HST on June 3, earthquake activity at the summit has been low. Inward slumping of the rim and walls of Halema`uma`u continues in response to persistent subsidence. ”
While Kilauea claims homes, possessions, and places people loved— and animals, sadly— it’s a relatively benign volcano (as long asit 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:
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
After several days of anticipation, Fissure 8 arrived at last at Four Corners, the intersection of Highway 132 & 137. That gave local residents more time to retrieve their belongs before access to and from the Kapoho/Vacationland area was cut off.
Sadly, while people can evacuate, precious landmarks can’t. Today Green Lake seems to have gone the same way as the Queen’s Bath in Kalapana:
Kīlauea Message Sat, 02 Jun 2018 20:12:27 HST: F8 flow continues – advancing into Kapoho Crater and through Kapoho Beach Lots. At 10 AM, lava entered Green Lake. By 3PM, HCFD confirmed lake filled & water evaporated. Wide flow front is moving toward ocean.
In fact, the current lava eruptions in Puna are as hot as Hawaii’s lava will ever get. “It can’t get hotter than where we are,” Stovall added. “We are pretty much tapping mantle temperatures right now.”
Fissure 8 is beauty & the beast. Since Saturday it’s been pumping out a huge volume of lava, creating pahoehoe and even a’a flows that occasionally surge up to ~600yards/hour. Yesterday its main flow headed NE, skirted the geothermal plant, crossed and followed Hwy 132 for a while, and then started downslope past Noni Farms towards Four Corners, threatening to cut off Kapoho and Lower Puna.
In the early morning hours, officials went door-to-door in the Kapoho area ordering emergency evacuations. Newly-paved Beach Rd was pressed into service as a one-way evacuation route from Four Corners to Hawaiian Beaches. But it’s a race against time, as the lava is headed for that very road.
[ETA: Mick Kalber’s flyover. He’s always got notes on the video’s page.]
I saw no PGV news today, which is good. The summit produced yet more ash & earthquakes, one a pretty good thump (Mag 5.3 at 10:57am, no tsunami). Meanwhile, Fissure 18 is sending a channelized flow towards Hwy 137, just a little east of last week’s flows to the ocean:
10:11 PM HST May 30 Status Update: F8 fountaining continues, but Hwy 132 / Noni Farms flow front advance rate slow; F18 flow has spawned new lobe 1.5 miles above Hwy 137. Summit earthquake activity remains elevated.https://t.co/7sDZqcx8dUpic.twitter.com/BjVjJDy7jS