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.
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?
This continues my transcription of the Thurs Jun 28 USGS presentation at Volcano Village. Part 1 transcribed HVO Scientist-in-Charge Tina Neal and seismologist Kyle Anderson’s remarks. Part 2 covers senior volcanologist and my longtime hero Don Swanson’s remarks.
Here’s the video of the entire 1.5 hour meeting. Don’s presentation starts at 15:50:
It sounds like Swanson’s been holed up in Volcano House after HVO was evacuated. (Kyle Anderson: “Don has spent more time viewing this eruption from the summit than anyone else.”)
Title of talk: “Comparisons of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, May 19 through June 28 Viewed from dining room table of Volcano House”
The data that Kyle showed are absolutely magnificent. What I want to do now is to show you some photographs of features that I’ve been able to see during my observations. The first will be a series of photographs of Halemaʻumaʻu taken from the seat in the dining room of the Volcano House hotel where I sit and observe things.
On May 19th, of course, things were just starting to get going, but over here on June 13th, you can see that the crater has widened dramatically, and notice that it’s also dropped to the top of the tree which was way below the— it’s come way down. It isn’t because the tree is growing! It’s because the crater is dropping down.
Now we’ll go to this next period, June 13th to the 17th.
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:
On Thursday, there was an hour and a half meeting with the USGS, National Park Service and residents of Volcano Village. Above is a video of the whole meeting. As usual, I’m interested in the geology, and so I’ve made a transcript of that part of the meeting. The first half of Kyle Anderson’s talk rehashes the “collapse/explosion” events that we’ve covered before, but the second half has a timelapse of Halema’uma’u from June 1st to June 28th — which I’ve rebuilt frame by frame, since I could just make out the timestamps— plus the latest Digital Elevation Model of Kilauea’s summit showing the slumping not only in Halema’uma’u, but across part of the caldera floor.
Scientist-in-Charge Tina Neal (HVO)
[5:40] [Introductory remarks, greetings and thanks]
[6:20] So tonight you’ll hear from familiar faces, Kyle Anderson and Don Swanson, who will give you an update on what the volcano is doing, what we think is happening, and we’ll touch on this very important question of how long and how big. Those are very hard questions to answer, so let me just preview that we’re not going to give you a wonderful take-away that will solve all that uncertainty. But we’ll do the best we can.
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:
Excellent overview of lava lake, back wall and crater floor of Halema’uma’u. Shot from crater rim at Halema’uma’u overlook.
USGS: “This video shows an overview of the lake from the Halema‘uma‘u Crater rim, as well as some of the spattering that was occurring on the lake margin on Sunday, April 22.”
Apirl 25: USGS Handheld Video of Lava Lake
You can see how much it overflowed in just 3 days. Taken from crater rim, Halema’uma’u overlook.
USGS: “On Kīlauea Volcano’s summit, the Halema‘uma‘u lava lake’s high standing lake level produced intermittent overflows onto the crater floor. Smaller overflows and spattering have started to build a few discontinuous levees and a spatter cone around the lake margin, shown in these video clips taken from the lakes north and northeastern margin.“
April 26: USGS Helicopter Overflight
USGS: “Vigorous overflows from Kīlauea’s summit lava lake covered a large portion of the floor of Halema‘uma‘u this morning. In this video, the view starts from the north and heads south, showing the north and east sides of Halema‘uma‘u crater. During the overflight, a large overflow was active on the north margin of the lava lake, sending a cascade of lava down the elevated lake rim.”
April 25-27 Timelapse From HVO Webcam
USGS: “This time-lapse video from 7:30 p.m. April 25 to 7:30 p.m. April 26 shows Halema‘uma‘u lava lake producing intermittent overflows onto the crater floor. The largest of these flows was from approximately 6:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on April 26 and covered about 90 acres (2/3) of the crater floor.”