July 22: History Uncovered As Other Historical Places Covered

July 22, 2018. Posted by USGS on Facebook: “A telephoto view into the fissure 8 cinder cone, taken during the early morning helicopter overflight.”
Today’s Eruption Summary

Status quo. No significant overflows today from Fissure 8’s lava river. USGS morning overflight put the southern margin of the coastal flow field at 500 m from boat ramp at Isaac Hale Park. In other words, not much movement in that direction.

Summit collapse occurred while I was writing up this post, as expected:  8:54 pm HST, back to an energy equivalent of M5.3 on reviewing readings, they upped this one to 5.5! Let’s see whether that results in an early-morning Fissure 8 surge tomorrow, er, today, Monday.

July 22, 2018. USGS: “The main ocean entry, as observed early this morning, was located a few hundred meters (yards) northeast of the southern flow margin, which remains about 500 m (0.3 mi) from the boat ramp at the Isaac Hale Park.” (Full-sized)

When the National Park opens again, they’re going to have a new— or rather, very old— landmark that I confess I’m rather excited about, although it’s not quite as photogenic as a lava lake. Mark Twain would’ve seen this during his visit in 1866:

July 22, 2018. USGS: “Collapse of Kīlauea’s caldera floor has exposed South Sulphur Bank, prominent in the mid-19th century but covered as lava flows filled the caldera. The flat top of the white deposit shows how high the caldera fill reached. As the caldera floor dropped in mid-June 2018, South Sulphur Bank was again exposed. The height of the bank, now more than 65 m (213 ft), increases about 2.5 m (9 ft) with each collapse event at Kīlauea’s summit. On the caldera floor, white patches lie along spatter ramparts formed in 1971 and 1974.” (Full-sized)

As we approach the 3-month mark, the USGS is beginning to supplement its daily reports on the eruption itself with recognition of scientists and support crew who have been working 24/7 to monitor, collect scientific data and inform civil defense and the public since this eruption began. The drone crew worked overtime last night after being grounded by weather then night before:

July 22, 2018. USGS: “The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) team frequently works into the night, flying aircraft (also referred to as drones) that hover over the active lava channel to collect data and look for changes, such as significant channel overflows. The moon (bright white area above the UAS team scientist) is partially obscured by clouds.” (Full-sized)

Two maps today, one assembled from yesterday morning’s overflights and one from 2 o’clock this afternoon:

Continue reading July 22: History Uncovered As Other Historical Places Covered

July 13: Hawai’i Has a New Island (For Now)

July 13, 2018. USGS: “A tiny new island of lava has formed on the northernmost part of the ocean entry. During this morning’s overflight, HVO’s field crew noticed the island was oozing lava similar to the lava oozing from the broad flow front along the coastline.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

Fissure 8’s lava flow has settled into its new course, turning right just before Kapoho Cone and proceeding south-southeast to the ocean in a strong channelized a’a flow. Some lava, apparently following the earlier paths (lava tubes, maybe?) to the sea, is still squeezing out of the broad 6km (3.7) mile lava delta to the north of the new ocean entry.

A fascinating footnote: while the northern “ooze-outs” are weakening, a tiny lava island popped up just offshore of them last night, and it is itself oozing lava:

July 13, 2018. USGS: “A closer view of the new “island,” which was estimated to be just a few meters offshore, and perhaps 6-9 meters (20-30 ft) in diameter. It’s most likely part of the fissure 8 flow that’s entering the ocean—and possibly a submarine tumulus that built up underwater and emerged above sea level.” (Full-sized)

Fissure 22 has stopped spattering. However, many inactive fissures were steaming today, “possibly due to the increasing humidity in the area.”

Today’s summit collapse occurred at 7:06pm HST, with the energy equivalent of a 5.3 earthquake, as usual. HVO is setting up a new livestream from Volcano House, but it’s not fully operational yet, so we made do with the ailing HVO webcam today (video clip).

July 13, 2018. USGS: “View of Halema‘uma‘u and Kīlauea caldera just before 8:00 a.m. HST today, as seen from HVO’s observation point near Volcano House. Gusty winds were blowing quite a lot of rock-fall dust, visible both within and along the rim of the crater.” (Full-sized)

It’s been fascinating watching geologists collect data, figure things out, and incorporate these discoveries into their daily Kilauea alerts. Just as the HVO team  started predicting the summit’s cyclical collapse/explosions, now they’ve started predicting (or at least watching for) Fissure 8’s lava surges and possible spillovers a few hours after each summit collapse. Sure enough:

Also, we’ve got a new view of ever-expanding Halema’uma’u Crater in Kilauea’s summit caldera this morning:

July 13, 2018. USGS: “USGS scientists captured this stunning aerial photo of Halema‘uma‘u and part of the Kīlauea caldera floor during a helicopter overflight of Kīlauea’s summit this morning. In the lower third of the image, you can see the buildings that housed the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s Jaggar Museum, the museum parking area, and a section of the Park’s Crater Rim Drive. Although recent summit explosions have produced little ash, the drab gray landscape is a result of multiple thin layers of ash that have blanketed the summit area during the ongoing explosions.” (Full-sized)

I couldn’t find a comparable aerial photo with the observatory and Jaggar in shot, but this 2009 photo of Halema’uma’u is facing in approximately the same direction. (Look for Crater Rim Rd behind the crater on the left, and note the parking lot obscured by the lava lake’s plume in 2009— lava lake, parking lot, and part of that road collapsed into the crater in June.)

Continue reading July 13: Hawai’i Has a New Island (For Now)

May 22: Reactivated Fissures Near Geothermal Plant

News media have finally gotten wind of Civil Beat’s livestream. Some have gotten the homeowner’s permission to film broadcasts on the same porch, so you may hear them if you tune in. At other times, the homeowners or friends they’ve let use the house stop by. It’s surreal yet oddly comforting to hear the homey noises of people, a pet parkeet (?), and wild chickens outside while towering, terrifying yet magnificent lava fountains boom and chuff.

As for the big picture, we’re starting to settle into a routine with Kilauea’s ongoing double eruption:

(1) Lava in Lower East Rift Zone

  • Lava fountains/flows in the Lower East Rift Zone continue vigorously, claiming more land and displacing more residents in Lower Puna.
  • Some fissures stop, but others reactivate. See HVO maps for what’s active.
  • Coast guard, police are trying to keep spectators away from lava entry into ocean; toxic “laze” plume from lava/seawater interaction is dangerous.
  • Puna residents are concerned about lava now encroaching on Puna Geothermal Venture site, because PVG’s lack of transparency and tardiness in capping wells has not been reassuring. (see HNN reporter Mileka Lincoln’s brief, damming synopsis). Lava-breached wells might emit toxic hydrogen sulfide.
  • Leilani Estates, where fissures started, doesn’t have much erupting now but cracks in some roads are now chasms (photo).
  • Lava is now faster, hotter, more voluminous due to clearing out old lava from 1955 that was pooled under rift zone; now it’s fresh lava from drained Pu’u O’o.

(2) Kilauea Summit Ash Explosions

  • Minor ash explosions continue intermittently at Kilauea’s summit crater, Halemau’ma’u. Between explosions, white plume of steam seen on webcams.
  • This morning, another ash explosion, 10,000 foot cloud, 3:30 AM. Here’s this morning’s Civil Defense ashfall warning with advisory for Kau.
  • See NWSHonolulu on Twitter for ashfall advisories.
  • We don’t know if crater has ejected more “ballistics” (flying rocks) since USGS scientists aren’t risking personnel by entering the possible “flying rocks” zone. Right now they’re working from a temporary base of operations in Hilo.
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed, not only to keep public out of range of flying rocks, but because of earthquake damage to trails and some park structures. These need to be assessed/repaired.
  • Park Rangers have set up in Hilo Bayfront to educate public about this historic eruption.

Oh look, another hazard from lava entering ocean: WATERSPOUTS.

And even when fissures don’t spout lava, they can still be dangerous:


May 21: Daily Roundup, Fire & Water Edition

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.

May 21 Fissure Map (USGS Maps page)

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:

May 21 Heat map of today’s flows (USGS Maps page)

Below the cut: a digest of the day’s eruption news, USGS updates (summarized), and striking social media images and video clips like this:

Continue reading May 21: Daily Roundup, Fire & Water Edition

May 20: Lava Reaches The Ocean

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)