It’s a day by day look at how this has unfolded for the shaken residents of Puna, for the state officials scrambling to address this fast-moving crisis, and for those who are front-row witnesses to the power of nature at its most destructive… and yet beautiful.
— Honolulu Civil Beat (@CivilBeat) May 23, 2018
I’m still wondering, and there’s absolutely no way to know: will this follow the pattern of the 1955 Kapoho eruption in whose footsteps it’s following? (Same general area, and in fact for the first two weeks that slow-moving lava coming out was mostly 1955’s leftovers.)
“The [Kapoho] eruption lasted for 88 days and opened at least 24 separate vents that stretched nine miles from Kapoho to west of the Pāhoa-Kalapana road. Numerous lava flows cut all access to lower Puna covering over six miles of public roads. The eruption required the evacuation of most coastline residents from Kapoho to Kalapana for an extended period.”—USGS
A few months is a major disruption to daily life, but that’s really not too long before residents can start picking up the pieces.
Here’s the thing. This lava came down the East Rift Zone after the bottom of Pu’u O’o Crater collapsed and all its lava drained away. And that unusually long-lasting eruption had been going since 1983. If this is the same magma from the same source, just emerging from a different location, it could go for years.
P.S.. from the HVO website: “Kilauea – 2018-05-23 04:37:34
Another small summit explosion at 10:18 UTC / 00:18 HST 23 May.” Every night, another poof or two. I feel for the people downwind; while ash isn’t as destructive as lava, it’s still disruptive, bad for plants and machinery, and especially hard on people with respiratory issues.
Mick Kalber’s daily helicopter flyover includes some intense views of the rivers of lava heading into the ocean, and the big complex of fountains— 20? 22? we’re starting to lose track— that have dominated the Lava Livestream With Rooster for the last several days.
The USGS thermal scan is very informative, too: an infrared satellite detects heat sources (the whiter the image, the hotter it is), and USGS then overlays it on a daylight satellite image of same area. Result, accurate map of where the main flows are, even when they crust over so the lava inside is hidden:
Below the cut: a digest of the day’s eruption news, USGS updates (summarized), and striking social media images and video clips like this:
Wow. Otherworldly video of the Kilauea volcanic eruption on Hawaii's Big Island. pic.twitter.com/f8u9ZjenKx
— WeatherNation (@WeatherNation) May 20, 2018
Monday night, Meteorologist Malika Dudley explains to the BBC how and why the lava erupting in Puna has changed, summarizing USGS findings:
We were on @bbcworld news last night. This an excerpt explaining what HVO scientists have suspected would happen – and has been confirmed through testing… the chemical composition of the lava has changed. #pahoehoe #kilauea #kilaueaeruption #kilaueavolcano #lavaupdate #volcano pic.twitter.com/ECArDvsrOw
— IG: @MalikaDudley (@MalikaDudley) May 22, 2018
Today’s big activities were: (1) massive lava fountains/flows in the Lower East Rift Zone/Lower Puna, entering the ocean at two points (2 modest ash explosions from Halema’uma’u crater (they looked to me like the 10,000 foot range). I’m going to stop worrying about whether they’re triggered by steam explosions or rockfalls.
Late afternoon HNN update includes footage of lava entry into ocean:
#LeilaniEstatesEruption #KilaueaVolcano UPDATE: @CivilDefenseHI wants residents & visitors to be aware of the risks they could be exposed to if they attempt to get a closer look at the lava ocean entry from laze to localized tsunamis https://t.co/m38TCP8JXR @HawaiiNewsNow #HINews pic.twitter.com/2fHrnl2tMI
— Mileka Lincoln (@MilekaLincoln) May 21, 2018
Oh good, Mick’s posted the day’s flyover. Noisy helicopter, incredible views:
Also, the lava livestream continues. Someone posted a screencap with USGS scientists working below Fissure 20, giving a sense of scale:
Just for a little bit of scale and a reality check… The two circled white specks are @USGSVolcanoes workers going down to collect lava samples earlier today. #hawaiivolcanohttps://t.co/EAYpbsA30w pic.twitter.com/i1b9Yr3wSk
— Kimberly (@kimberlyaliceMT) May 20, 2018
KITV archived HVO’s afternoon alert:
There’s two lava livestreams on Youtube this morning, same location, Honolulu CivilBeat mostly focusing on Fissure 20, ~1000 yards away. WXchasing moving camera more often [ETA: WX stream now archived]. HCB said Fissure 17 (3/5 a mile away) has built up a cinder cone 300 feet tall.
Last night, Fissure 20’s lava flow crossed Highway 137 and reached the ocean at 11PM, leaving some Puna residents with one escape route. Filed under “things I didn’t know,” Civil Defense warns of “Laze,” a spray of hot steam, hydrochloric acid, and “fine glass particles” when lava hits seawater.
Also filed under “things I didn’t know”: “Methane gas, produced as lava buries vegetation, can migrate in subsurface voids and explode when heated.” (USGS)
This… is just incredible.
The first two weeks of sputtering fissures, slow-moving flows were prelude. Thursday night, the rivers and fountains of runny pahoehoe lava arrived. Today, Saturday afternoon, the overflight videos are historic.
From USGS (loud helicopter):
Fissures 16-20 joined up this Saturday and are marching towards the ocean, expected to cross Highway 137 tonight. Civil defense warns to keep away from ocean entry, if/when the lava reaches the shore, to avoid “laze.”
From Mick Kalber:
I have no words.
Well, okay, I do. I hope everyone down there is safely away. It’s been a hard day for a bunch of people who can’t go home now.
HNN posted a brief video recap of some of the incredible lava river/fountains last night, identifying it as Lanipuna Gardens (I wasn’t sure.)
Today, Honolulu Civil Beat just left the camera on, and the lava just keeps coming.
Yep, Rusty the Rooster is still trying to tell us it’s morning.
However, despite using a still from dawn Friday morning showing Fissure 17 at its most glorious, its cinder cone is now much higher than it is.
Friday night it was incredibly spectacular, but by Saturday the group of combined fountains at Fissure 20 had taken the spotlight, sending vast amounts of Pahoehoe down to the ocean. That said, 17 continued be loud; it’s the one that sounds like a thundering detonation or jet engine in short, loud bursts.
Thursday May 18: Fissure eruptions went into overdrive [Good article from Star-Advertiser] as “fresher, hotter magma” (Janet Babb, USGS geologist) arrived from summit. Fissure 20 released a lava flow down toward coast, crossed Pohoiki Road, and isolated about 40 houses. Four cut-off residents were airlifted out.
Check out daylight screencap from late in the broadcast to get sense of scale: note house.
The USGS also posted a brief video clip of Fissure 17 in its Kilauea-Iki-like glory:
May 19, Friday afternoon, a new livestream started from same channel as before (civilbeat.org). They streamed through most of the night, occasionally shifting view from large fountain behind house (Fissure 17) to lava flow and a group of lava fountains building spatter ramparts (Fissure 20 merged with others) upslope to the right.
Friday, HawaiiNewsNow’s Milika Lincoln filmed same area in late morning from nearby location, near Lanipuni Gardens: fissure 17 fountain was now 500 feet tall. There seems to be a crater (pu’u) forming to the right of 17’s fountain. She also interviewed a resident who saw Fissure 17 form— as they talk, it roars. After dark, her crew’s footage is absolutely spectacular. (She’s calling it 19— either I’m mistaken about which one she’s watching, or she is.)
You can really tell this is hotter, fresher, more voluminous lava that drained from Pu’u O’o, as opposed to the old, stiffer, cooler lava that erupted from fissures in Leilani Estates the first two weeks of this eruption.
“Ground deformation is continuing with increased seismicity” in Lower East Rift Zone, and USGS warn lava inundation below them is possible, and that more fissures could still open uprift or downrift. “All fissures are actively spattering or actively degassing.” 40 structures lost.
I’ve not covered every single fissure: see the HVO Photo/Multimedia blog, the HVO timeline, KITV, and HawaiiNewsNow for fissure-by-fissure coverage, not to mention HNN reporter Milika Lincoln’s Instagram vids and photos, and Mike Kalbers’ wonderful daily flyovers.
Activity ebbed and flowed, some days with more steam, some with more spatter. For the most part, lava flows didn’t go very far, and were largely sticky, clumpy, clanky a’a. But I bookmarked fissure 17 early on for particularly dramatic fountains (those blocks it’s hurling are called “lava bombs”) and incredible booms and roars:
#LeilaniEstatesEruption LATEST (May 15 at 8:30 AM): Incredible new sunrise footage captures the sounds and sight of lava fountains and gas bombs erupting from the 17th fissure — which broke out Saturday off of Halekamahina Loop Road northeast of Lanipuna Gardens on the Kalapana side of Highway 132. According to USGS HVO scientists, fissure 17 has created a narrow lava flow heading makai — or downslope toward the ocean — and has already covered about two miles. Civil Defense officials say based on their last measurement, this flow front is now a little less than a mile from Highway 137. At one point yesterday, it was moving at a rate of about 100 yards an hour, but it has since slowed a bit. The flow has been running roughly parallel to Highway 132 or Pahoa Kapoho Road. Officials say it's heading east in the direction of Kapoho toward Highway 137 — also called Old Government Beach Road, or more commonly referred to by residents as Waa Waa Road. This fissure has already claimed one structure — but officials say there are currently no homes or buildings in its current path. This has been the longest-lasting, most active fissure of the 20 that have opened up since this the first on May 3 along Mohala Street within #LeilaniEstates. Stay tuned to @HawaiiNewsNow for the very latest developments #HInews #HawaiiNews #HNN #HawaiiNewsNow #WeAreYourSource (Video: @bradah.dom / @ikaikamarzo)
and it was the first one that really seemed to be making a run for the ocean and creating a sustained lava flow.
Here’s May 13 and 14th flyovers from Mick Kalber:
Luckily, it chose a route that doesn’t have many houses downslope. And unlike other fissures, it just kept going and going.
And (since I’m posting this backdated): it’s still going on May 19, after making quite an impressive lava fountain and cinder cone for itself over the past two nights.