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:
This post got long, so I’ve moved the Q&A session to Part 3. Again, I’m transcribing what HVO geologists had to say at the June 28 Volcano Village community meeting.
Part 1 was Kyle Anderson’s talk on seismicity and ground deformation— lots of nitty gritty science— while Part 2 was Don Swanson’s slideshow of some of the visible changes he’s observed within Kīlauea Caldera, with a lot of photos I haven’t seen anywhere else.
Here’s the video of the whole meeting.
Here’s my transcription of the Q&A session. A lot of these questions have already been answered online, but I like hearing direct, personal responses from some of the senior HVO scientists:
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.
Fissure 8 continues to pump out vast amounts of lava, although it’s slacked off a tad from yesterday’s 260-foot display. One of its fingers burned a building or two at PGV. Other lobes closed in on Kapoho throughout the day, touching Highway 132 again half a mile north of Four Corners at 3:30. Fissure 18, which has been sending a flow east and down towards the ocean, has pretty much stalled apart from some small breakouts. Authorities were ordering Kapoho-area residents out today before lava cuts their only remaining road to the rest of the island.
(That’s a photo of Four Corners, which is the intersection of Hwy 132 & 137. Apparently the lava’s started using 132 as a shortcut again.)
The summit has been steaming and vogging away, but the overlook vent has now been choked with debris falling from its walls. Ash explosions have nearly stopped since the 11am May 30 ash eruption that rose 12,000 ft. Scientists are trying to figure out whether this means the main explosive phase is finished, or whether it’s going to build up enough pressure to blow out the clog. (That said, the crater has not “fallen quiet,” as many non-Hawaiian news stations claimed today. According to @NWSHonolulu, there was a minor “burp” of ash just after 1:30pm.)
BigIslandVideoNews just put up an edited video of Saturday’s USGS press conference. My hero Don Swanson is there. It’s INCREDIBLY informative on what they think is happening at the summit and why they think it’s a repeat of the “much smaller eruptions” of 1924 and not larger ones.