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)
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.
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.
I wasn’t going to do this, because hazard information is best left to emergency officials and experts.
But I don’t want the videos and images I’m sharing to mislead people into thinking this event is larger-scale than it is. It’s overwhelming to those who have lost homes or had to evacuate. I don’t want to downplay what they’re going through. At the same time, major hazards are confined to a very limited area, yet news media are whipping this up to apocalyptic proportions and tossing out headlines with “fears” and “anxieties” and “major” to scare people. I don’t want to add to their hype. A volcanic eruption one can watch from a few miles away without dying is moderate, not major.
So let me try to give a rundown of Kilauea hazards, and why I think it’s not greedy nor crazy for officials to be urging tourists not to cancel their visits.
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.
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:
Fissures continued to open, but mostly emitted slow, sticky lava that didn’t travel far. Leilani residents continued to be allowed back during the daytime.
Video: lava flow eats Mustang (dead battery; owner left it to focus on rescuing other possessions), another flow pushes through metal gate. These slow-moving, clumpy, clanking flows that pile up like a rocky bulldozer are “a’a” lava.
Evacuated residents of Leilani Estates were allowed back on Sunday May 6 to collect vital documents, pets and possessions. New fissures continued to open up and spatter, and officials warned about toxic sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) coming from fissures as well.
At 12:33PM. a magnitude 6.9 earthquake knocked out power to some customers, agitated the summit lava lake (video clip), sent up yet more ash from Pu’u O’o (video clip), and caused minor local sea level fluctuations (Good article: Honolulu Star-Advertiser). Also see informative HVO Volcano Watch photo essay.
Below: Interview of HVO geologist Jim Kauahikaua, prior to 6.9 quake. Big Island Video News added lava footage from David Corrigan, Mick Kalber, Ikaika Marzo.