September 2: A Few Signs of Life Deep in Fissure 8


Saturday, Sep 1, 2018, 6:00 pm – Kilauea's lower east rift zone overflight: Another angle of fissure 8, with a small lava pond within.

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Sunday, September 2, 2018

This Week’s Eruption Summary

While no glow or incandescence was reported within Fissure 8’s cone for most of the week, Saturday 9/1 showed a few life signs remain in the LERZ: weak spattering from one spot, and in the evening new lava came out to cover most of the crater floor. But its sides have been slumping and falling in, as have the levees of the now solidified lava channel. While Fissure 8 and some of the surrounding vents continue to steam and fume, SO2 emissions remain low there and at the summit.

August 30, 2018. USGS: “The fissure 8 lava channel (center) and levee (foreground), looking toward the northwest. Loose rubble and Pele’s hair (lower right) are strewn across the levee surface.” (Full-sized)

No active ocean entries have been seen for the past few days, suggesting that all the residual lava from Fissure 8 has stagnated or drained out.

August 30, 2018. USGS: “Lower East Rift Zone lava flows entering the ocean have built a lava delta over 875 acres in size, but no active ocean entries were observed by HVO geologists on this morning’s overflight. View to the southwest.” (Full-sized)

This week has been a time of repair and taking stock. USGS geologists have been replacing lost or damaged monitoring stations (including the UWE tiltmeter, back on HVO’s deformation page). The drone crews have been out after Hurricane Lane came through to take new detailed aerial surveys of Kilauea’s summit (August 30 video) and Fissure 8 (August 21 video).

Screencap from August 30, 2018 UAV video survey of Kilauea summit.

They also posted an updated timelapse video of HVO’s panorama cam of Halema’uma’u from April 14 through August 20:

This week’s Volcano Watch newsletter from HVO describes how “Scientific community lends a hand to measure Kīlauea’s changing shape.” This eruption required all hands on deck and every last scrap of equipment they had, and then some.

Another screencap from the August 30 drone survey of Halema’uma’u Crater and its surroundings. Piece of Crater Rim Drive a long way down in the crater.More photos after the cut, plus some notes on the park’s status.

Continue reading September 2: A Few Signs of Life Deep in Fissure 8

August 19: The Lull Continues

This Week’s Eruption Activity

Negligible. There’s a few residual bits of lava oozing into the ocean at Ahalanui. Otherwise, there’s not much going on at the summit or LERZ.

[In case Tweet above isn’t showing, here’s the 3D Fissure 8 video on HVO website.]

USGS: “This thermal map shows the fissure system and lava flows as of 6 am on Wednesday, August 15 [2018]. Residual lava in the Fissure 8 flow continues to drain, feeding numerous small ocean entries. In the Fissure 8 cone there was a single, small lava pond.” (Full-sized)
On Friday August 19, HVO lowered ground alert levels, just as they lowered aviation alert levels after the ash explosions stopped. Here’s the official notice:

In light of the reduced eruptive activity at Kīlauea Volcano over the last several days, HVO is lowering the Alert Level for ground based hazards from WARNING to WATCH. This change indicates that the hazards posed by crater collapse events (at the Kīlauea summit) and lava flows (Lower East Rift Zone; LERZ) are diminished. However, the change does not mean with absolute certainty that the LERZ eruption or summit collapses are over. It remains possible that eruption and collapse activity could resume.


Remarks: Background and Prognosis

Kīlauea Volcano has remained quiet for well over a week now, with no collapse events at the summit since August 2. Except for a small, crusted-over pond of lava deep inside the fissure 8 cone and a few scattered ocean entries, lava ceased flowing in the LERZ channel on August 6. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions rates at the summit and LERZ are also drastically reduced (the combined rate is lower than at any time since late 2007).

It remains too soon to tell if this diminished activity represents a temporary lull or the end of the LERZ lava flows and/or summit collapses. In 1955, similar pauses of 5 and 16 days occurred during an 88-day-long LERZ eruption. During the Mauna Ulu eruption (1969-1974), a 3.5 month pause occurred in late 1971.

HVO will continue to record detailed visual observations and scrutinize incoming seismic, deformation, and gas data, looking for evidence of significant movement of magma or pressurization as would be expected if the system was building toward renewed activity.

Also on Friday, the National Park Service issued a media release and gave select local media a guided tour of the summit. Lots of info, and worth seeing:

This Week’s USGS Photos From Summit to Sea

Continue reading August 19: The Lull Continues

August 12: Pele Is Still Sleeping, Part 1

August 11, 2018. USGS: “The UAS team (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) flew a mission over fissure 8 to assess conditions within the cinder cone. As shown, fissure 8 contains two small ponds deep within its crater. One pond slowly circulates with an incandescent surface while the other pond is stagnant with a crusted top.” (Fuil-sized)
Weekly Eruption summary

So it’s finally arrived, the end (or at least intermission) of Fissure 8’s endless outpouring of lava from May 27 to August 4. The shutdown happened at the end of last week over a period of just 2-3 days.

August 11, 2018. USGS: “The fissure 8 cinder cone is currently about 30 m (100 ft) tall with a very broad base. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions are low, reflecting the diminished activity of the lava ponds in the cone.” (Full-sized)

Fissure 8 isn’t quite dead. There’s lava pooled deep down the cone, bubbling weakly. Residual lava is still draining out of the lava delta into the ocean, some of it quite near the now-famous Pohoiki Boat Ramp. But most of the surface channels have drained and solidified.

August 11, 2018. USGS: “Close view of the Pohoiki boat ramp during this morning’s overflight. The southern-most flow margin has not advanced significantly toward the Pohoiki boat ramp, but black sand and larger fragments from the entry areas have washed ashore to create a sand bar and beach at this site. Geologists observed several small lava streams trickling into the sea along the souther portion of the lava delta, producing weak laze plumes.” (Full-sized)

The volcano’s summit has settled, too. The caldera floor isn’t inflating or deflating, and the swarms of earthquakes and summit collapses have stopped.

So now the question becomes: how long do geologists, national park staff and residents wait before deciding it’s safe to start repairing the damage? Past Lower East Rift Zone eruptions have paused for days, even weeks. So scientists and officials continue to warn that this eruption could resume at any time.

August 7, 2018. USGS: “Civil Air Patrol captured this image of Kīlauea’s summit yesterday (August 7, 2018), providing a stunning view of Halema‘uma‘u and the collapsed area within the caldera. Prevailing trade winds have blown much of the ash emitted during earlier explosions to the southwest (left), where thin layers of light-colored volcanic ash now blanket the landscape. Plumes of smoke rising from the flank of Mauna Loa were from a brush fire that continues burning today. Mauna Kea is visible on the upper right horizon; the crater visible at bottom center is Keanakāko‘i.” (Full-sized)

This week’s Volcano Watch column from Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, written August 9, addresses exactly that question:

“Is Kīlauea Volcano’s summit and rift zone activity pau or paused?”

Also, it looks like I missed an August 6 USGS news media briefing discussing the eruption’s apparent shutdown (full audio).

Now let’s look back at recent images and videos posted on HVO’s Photo & Video Chronology page, which only shows the 10 most recent posts— so these are visible there now, but won’t be in the future.

First of all, remembering past collapse events— with sound! Full-sized video posted here, or a faster-loading small version on Twitter:

Continue reading August 12: Pele Is Still Sleeping, Part 1

August 6: Kīlauea Falls Quiet

August 6, 2018. USGS: “Kīlauea’s summit remains quiet following the most recent collapse event on August 2 at 11:55 a.m. HST. This quiet is a significant departure from the pattern of episodic seismicity and continuous deformation over the past several months, with very low rates of seismicity continuing today. Deformation at the summit as measured by tiltmeter and GPS instruments slowed and virtually stopped between August 4 and 5. This view of Halema‘uma‘u is toward the southeast.” (Full-sized)

Today’s Eruption Summary

Little lava is leaving Fissure 8 today. It’s still bubbling away within the cone, but the channel below it is crusted over, with only residual lava draining down towards Ahalanui and the edge of Isaac Hale Park, and almost no laze plume. The summit’s seismicity is way down, and there’s almost no inflation or deflation since August 3. Now the question becomes: is this a temporary pause, or is this eruption really over?

(Full-sized version of this video)

Today’s Volcano update (12:49 PM HST) paints a picture of a pause – but we’re not yet ready to say if it’s a full stop.

@USGSVolcanoes on Twitter

August 6, 2018. USGS: ” This morning’s overflight revealed a weak to moderately active pond of lava bubbling within the fissure 8 cone, but no visible supply of lava from fissure 8 into the channel. The perched channel and braided sections downstream were essentially crusted over with some incandescence noted. Active flow in the channel was observed immediately west Kapoho Crater.” (Full-sized)
August 6, 2018. USGS: “There were small active lava ooze outs at the coast in the vicinity of the former Kapoho Bay and Ahalanui, and the laze plume was greatly diminished. Active lava is close to the Pohoiki boat ramp but did not advanced significantly toward it over the weekend.” (Full-sized)
August 6, 2018. USGS: “High-elevation view of Halema‘uma‘u and the larger Kīlauea Crater from this morning’s overflight, with Mauna Loa in the background. HVO and NPS Jaggar Museum are located on bluffs at the far side of the crater in the center of the view. Note the smoke plume from a still-burning brushfire on the lower flank of Mauna Loa.” (Full-sized)
August 6, 2018. USGS: “This photo shows a portion of the Crater Rim Drive that led from the east to the Halema‘uma‘u parking area, which slid into the growing crater weeks ago. Note a slump block located below and near where the road ends at Halema‘uma‘u. The September 1982 lava flow can be seen in the top of the photograph.” (Full-sized)

By the way, while trying to track down photos of the September 1982 lava flow, I found an old webpage (No datestamp, but Internet Archive first scraped it in 1999) with some interesting aerial photos of Kīlauea Caldera from the 70s and 80s. It would be fun to try to match the 1974 aerial photo with a new one, but I haven’t seen one taken from that high yet.

August 6, 2018, 2 pm HST. Latest USGS map of Lower East Rift Zone. (Full-sized)

At the top of this post, I posted Mick Kalber’s overflight video from this morning. Bruce Omori posted his photos and notes from this flight on the Lava Update blog, same post mirrored on Facebook with a few more observations:

Lava Update for Monday, Aug 6, 2018, 6:00 am – Kilauea's lower east rift zone overflight:Kīlauea's eruptive activity…

Posted by Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery on Monday, August 6, 2018

July 31: Record Officially Broken

July 31, 2018. USGS: “The fissure 8 ocean entry and laze plume as they appeared at sunrise this morning. The Pohoiki boat ramp is visible just below the plume (slightly left of center).” (Full-sized)

89 days. That’s how long it’s been since the first fissure started spattering lava in Leilani Estates. Which is one day longer than the 1955 Kapoho eruption, which had been the longest LERZ eruption since records started being kept.

July 31, 2018. USGS: ” In this aerial view, taken during HVO’s overflight this morning, you can follow the lava channel from fissure 8 (gas plume visible in far distance) as it wends its way toward Kapoho Crater (lower left), where it then heads south toward the ocean.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

LERZ erupton as per usual. There’s “ooze-outs” of lava on the flow margin, but further inland from Pohoiki. Today’s M5.3 summit collapse was at 7:59 am, when the crater was steaming in the cool morning air.

From HVO, the livestream caught the pressure wave passing through the cloud:

From the NE Caldera Rim livestream, ground shaking and rockfalls were more visible:

There was also a regular M 4.5 earthquake at 12:30 am.

HVO/USGS has updated and reorganized their 2018 Activity page, with FAQs, resources, and links to photos and videos.

Continue reading July 31: Record Officially Broken

July 30: Day 88 Matches 1955 Eruption Duration

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Today’s Eruption Summary

Eruption continues as usual with three minor things to note. First: “fuming” on the southwestern margin of the flow near Pohoiki could mean possible breakouts, according to today’s HVO Kilauea status update.

Same source also says that, rather unusually, a 4.1 earthquake at 10:02 pm was felt all the way to Hilo, far more widely than the stronger summit collapse events, possibly because it was at a depth of 7 miles.

And finally, Tuesday will mark the 89th day of the eruption, surpassing the length of the 1955 Kapoho eruption which had previously held the record for the longest LERZ eruption since westerners arrived and began keeping records.

From Other Geologists

Erik Klemetti’s Rocky Planet blog in Discover magazine invites readers to “Check Out How The 2018 Eruption Has Changed At Kilauea’s Summit“. Although I suspect readers of this blog are well aware of pretty much everything in that post!

I tweeted him a question about “Halema’uma’u Caldera,” which he seems to be using instead of “Kīlauea caldera.” I know Halemaʻumaʻu crater has expanded so much it could be classified as a caldera now, but so far HVO scientists have resisted doing so, to avoid confusion with the larger, older caldera.

July 30 HCFD Overflight Photos

HCFD’s July 30 album is up on Flickr. Just 12 photos plus the video clip at the top of this post. Including the clearest views we’ve seen of Isaac Hale Park in some time, since the laze plume wasn’t in the way:

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Here’s a few USGS photos from today plus the LERZ map, and overflight video and photos from Mick and Bruce:

Continue reading July 30: Day 88 Matches 1955 Eruption Duration

July 25: Lavasheds Explained (More or Less)

July 25, 2018. USGS: “Early this morning, several small lobes of lava were oozing out from crusted ‘a‘ā flows along the southern ocean entry.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

As we approach the 3-month mark— or pass it, since Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s floor collapsed 3 months ago this past Monday— Kīlauea’s 2018 eruption continues with no significant changes. During the USGS morning overflight, the lava’s southwestern margin was holding at less than a tenth of a mile from Pohoiki boat ramp. The vigorous ocean entry continues a few hundred yards to the east. No surges in lava output have been reported at Fissure 8 since Tuesday’s 6:41 am summit collapse.

July 25, 2018. USGS: ” HVO’s overflight early this morning revealed little advancement of the westernmost ocean entry. During the overflight, lava was approximately 145 m (475 ft) from the boat ramp at Isaac Hale Park (near the light-colored structure just left of center in this photo).” (Full-sized)

A deceptive moment of tranquility at the new, extensively remodeled summit:

July 25, 2018. USGS: “Earthquakes shook the ground at Kīlauea’s summit late this afternoon, stirring up rock dust within Halema‘uma‘u and along the caldera walls. This view from the northeast caldera rim looks across at the Keanakāko‘i and South Sulphur Banks areas.” (Full-sized)

Here’s HVO’s Steve Brantley giving the weekly eruption update at last night’s Pahoa community meeting (I’ll be transcribing it tomorrow or Friday).

He explains that complicated “lavashed” map released earlier this week, which predicts where lava is most likely to go if there’s a breakout along particular stretches of Fissure 8’s lava channel. This is an aid to residents living in neighboring areas not affected by lava now, but who are worried about what might happen if the flow diverts.

Continue reading July 25: Lavasheds Explained (More or Less)

July 24: Visible Shockwave in Steam Clouds

July 24, 2018: Two HVO geologists out standing in their field. USGS tweeted this among a batch of photos today. (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

Today’s summit collapse event at 6:41 am was upgraded to 5.6 a 5.3, as usual. The USGS apologized for calculations errors for the past 3 days

Since I was out and missed it on livestream, I’m very glad HVO captured it.  Here’s yet another trick from Pele’s repertoire:

There’s a lot to look at here. From USGS caption:

“In this video, watch as today’s event unfolds from the perspective of HVO’s live-stream camera. At 6:41:08 (time stamp at upper left), a small tree along the right margin of the video begins to sway. At 6:41:10, a pressure wave passes through the steam plume in the crater, and light is reflected back to the camera (highlights the passage of the expanding sound energy through the air.) At 6:41:11, a rockfall begins on the South Sulphur Banks, a distant light-colored scarp on the left.”

Field crews reported no surge at Fissure 8 following today’s summit collapse.

I notice the latest HVO Kilauea report says Fissure 8’s cone is down to 50 m, “or 55 yards.” It’s definitely crumbled or eroded— that may be responsible for some of the lava boats— but I’m never sure whether they’re measuring from the original ground level or the lava on which it sits. At any rate, the fountaining is lower, too, since it’s not rising above the lip of the cone.

July 24, 2018. USGS: “Fissure 8 lava channel as viewed from HVO’s morning overflight today. The robust volcanic gas plume in the far distance was rising from the fissure 8 vent.” (Full-sized)

Down at the ocean entry, the main channel is still dumping into the sea from multiple toes near former Ahalanui.

July 24, 2018. USGS: “The Hawaii County Fire Department captured this image of Isaac Hale Park and boat ramp during their overflight of the area late this afternoon.” (Full-sized)

I’m impressed HCFD was able to catch a glimpse under the thick, low laze plume, which was obstructing the view during @HotSeatHawaii’s overflight, which looked about like this (in fact the USGS helicopter was down below them):

July 24, 2018. USGS: “The ocean entry has expanded to the southwest through a series of lava ‘ooze-outs’ from the southern flow margin that organized into an incipient channel. As of this morning, the flow margin was in or at the edge of Isaac Hale Park, approximately 175 m (575 ft) from the Pohoiki boat ramp. Unfortunately, the view was obscured by laze (the smaller plume below the larger laze plume) during the overflight.” (Full-sized)

“Ooze-outs” are occurring along the west side of the active flow south Kapoho Crater, all the way down to the ocean (where it is threatening Isaac Hale).

Other news that slipped under the radar: HCFD took a swing by the summit yesterday! It was very dusty and hazy, but the new shape of Halemaʻumaʻu is becoming clear:


Look for Crater Rim Drive at lower left around 0:30, falling into the crater where it used to lead to the parking lot; HVO is really hard to glimpse at upper right.

There were several more photos, giving us a little more perspective on the whole of Kīlauea Caldera as it is now:

Continue reading July 24: Visible Shockwave in Steam Clouds

July 23: Pohoiki Going Tonight (I Think)

July 23, 2018. View of lava channel from F8 where it bends to south and heads for ocean (laze plume in background). USGS: “The fissure 8 channel continues to carry lava toward the coast on the west side of Kapoho Crater (vegetated cone, far left). Northwest of this cone, overflows (lower left) of the channel occurred overnight, but lava was confined to the existing flow field and did not threaten any homes or structures.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

The USGS has updated the energy release for yesterday evening’s summit collapse to  M5.5. (For more info: “Why Do Earthquake Magnitudes Sometimes Change?” from a 2016 issue of Volcano Watch by HVO.)

Fissure 8 exhibited surge behavior afterwards. Overnight, drone crews observed minor overflows just northwest of Kapoho Cone, most of which were confined to the existing flow field and/or stopped before traveling far enough to threaten structures.

July 23, 2018. USGS: “Lava continued to enter the sea near Ahalanui during HVO’s early morning helicopter overflight of Kīlauea’s lower East Rift Zone (view to northeast). The southern margin of the flow was still about [a quarter mile] from the boat ramp at Isaac Hale Park this morning. The jetty along the launch ramp is visible near the center of the photo.” (Full-sized)
The main ocean entry and southern margin of the flow haven’t moved much in the past few days. However, USGS reports “a new lobe has started from the southern lobe and is active along its southwestern margin, slowly heading towards the ocean.” Today’s 1 pm map clarifies the new lobe’s location:

July 23, 2018, 1 pm USGS map of LERZ lava flow field. Note small overflow by Fissure 8 as well as upstream of Kapoho bend on the north side of the braided channels. (Full-sized)

Ikaika Marzo, a lava tour boat operator who stays a sensible distance from shore, reportedly saw lava is in Isaac Hale Park, within 50 m of Pohoiki boat ramp at 7:15 this evening.

No summit collapse today, unless the pattern changes; the next one ought to occur tomorrow morning.

Here’s highlights of the USGS Media Conference Call from this afternoon:

Full audio file archived here.

Continue reading July 23: Pohoiki Going Tonight (I Think)

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”