July 20: Word of the Day – “Lavasheds”

July 20, 2018. USGS: “During their early morning overflight, USGS scientists captured this view showing three of the five volcanoes that comprise the Island of Hawai‘i: Mauna Loa (distant upper left), Mauna Kea (distant right), and Kīlauea (foreground), with the fissure 8 vent and channelized lava flow on the volcano’s lower East Rift Zone.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

The Lower East Rift Zone eruption continues as per usual. USGS reported during today’s morning overflight that “the channel was incandescent its entire length from vent to ocean entry.” There’s a main ocean entry a few hundred meters NE of the southern flow border with smaller pahoehoe flows on either side. The southern margin doesn’t seem to have advanced much from yesterday.

July 20, 2018. USGS: “An aerial view of the southernmost ocean entry lava lobe. As of 6:30 a.m. HST, the south margin of the lava flow had not changed since yesterday, and was about 500 m (0.3 mi) from the boat ramp at Isaac Hale Park.” (

No other fissures are active, and I already covered yesterday’s 4:33 HST collapse event. I’m betting the next one will be after dark.

State Highways have put a speed limit of 25 on Highway 11 between Mile Marker 28 and 30 due to cracks in the road.

The USGS today released a new report for Civil Defense planning: “Fissure 8 Prognosis and Ongoing Hazards”.

“If the ongoing eruption maintains its current style of activity at a high eruption rate, then it may take months to a year or two to wind down.”

Here’s the July 19 thermal map of the LERZ posted this morning.

July 19, 2018. 12 pm USGS thermal map of LERZ. (Full-sized)

Continue reading July 20: Word of the Day – “Lavasheds”

July 19: USGS Media Conference Call

Thursday 1 pm USGS briefing to media. Most important part of briefing:

Full 1/2 hour audiofile here.

  • Leslie Gordon, USGS Public Affairs
  • Janet Babb, geologist, USGS/HVO
  • Patricia Nadeau, geochemist, USGS/HVO
  • Jessica Ferracane, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  • Matthew Foster, meteorologist, NWS

Janet Babb, Kīlauea Update: Good afternoon, everyone.

On the Lower East Rift Zone, Fissure 8 is still active. It continues to erupt lava into the perched channel that extends down on the west side of Kapoho Crater and feeds lava into the ocean. This morning, the main ocean entry was a little bit west of Ahalanui, with the flow margin about 500 meters, or 0.3 mile, from the Pohoiki boat ramp. There’s still some weak ocean entry points to the north of this main entry over near the Kapoho Bay lobe of lava where there were some weak, wispy plumes there. The flow front along the ocean, along the coast is still about 6 kilometers wide or 3.7 miles wide. On the Lower East Rift Zone, the sulfur dioxide emissions remain high, and the ocean entry hazards include the laze plume, as well as the possible hydrovolcanic explosions, what we referred to on Monday as “littoral explosions.” Hydrovolcanic is a little more intuitive word to explain the lava-seawater interaction.

Up at the summit, as we speak earthquakes are occurring at a rate of about 25-30 per hour as the volcano builds up to the next collapse event [this phonecall at 1 pm, collapse came at 4:33 pm.] The previous collapse event weas at 1:28 am July 18, so it’s been about 36 hours. We are within that time interval where we typically see these collapses occur. At the summit, the sulfur dioxide emissions are low. We’ll be posting some new photos and a new map shortly after this media call. That’s all.

Continue reading July 19: USGS Media Conference Call

July 17: New and Old Views of Halema’uma’u

July 17, 2018. USGS: “During this morning’s overflight, USGS scientists captured this image of sunrise above Kīlauea’s lower East Rift Zone. Fissure 8 continues to feed a channelized lava flow that reaches the ocean, forming a large plume at the coast (upper right).” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

And we’re back to routine, except that Fissure 8’s providing a minor puzzle to keep HVO busy. Yesterday it didn’t exhibit the surge behavior that’s been typical after summit collapses for the week or so. Today, nowhere near the time of a collapse event, “surging was noted at the Fissure 8 cone during the [morning] overflight but had stopped by the time ground crews arrived to verify it.” Otherwise, the channel’s lava level was low this morning. No other were fissures active.

July 17, 2018. USGS: ” During their overflight, scientists used a telephoto lens to photograph the surface of the fissure 8 lava channel. Incandescent lava is visible through pieces of darker crust that forms as the flow surface cools. Note the apparent symmetry on either side of the channel center, where lava flows more quickly than it does along the channel margins—a visual representation of flow velocity across the channel width.” (Full-sized)

Both the strong southern ocean entry and weak “ooze-outs” north along the edge of the lava delta continue. Onshore, the southern margin of the flow front was reported to be half a mile from the Pohoiki boat ramp this morning. Unfortunately, that flow edge has stalled but not stopped, and a DLNR official warned Isaac Hale Park is still within its sights.

July 17, 2018. USGS: “South margin of the fissure 8 lava flow ocean entry. As of this morning, the flow was about 750 m (just under 0.5 mi) from the Pohoiki boat ramp.” (Full-sized)

We’re still awaiting the next summit collapse, which looks like it’s going to thwart HVO’s new “Northeast Caldera Rim” livestream by happening at night.

Speaking of the northeast rim, here’s the July 12 collapse event with sound from that vantage point:

Also out today is this impressive new Kīlauea Digital Elevation Model.

The split-second info card at the end says the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater has dropped 450 m (1480 ft). Prior to the current eruption, it was 85 m (~280 feet) deep. So it’s about 1760 feet deep now. (World Trade Center One is 1776.)

Continue reading July 17: New and Old Views of Halema’uma’u