August 13: Pele Is Sleeping, Part 2

August 13, 2018. USGS: “Ocean entries were small and scattered this morning, but lava had made no significant advance toward Isaac Hale Beach Park. The Pohoiki boat ramp remains intact, but access from it to the open bay has been cut off by a sand bar that extends from the jetty to the shore. As molten lava streams into the ocean, it shatters into small glassy fragments, forming black sand that’s transported along the coast by longshore currents.” (Full-sized)
Eruption Summary: the Lull continues

Fissure 8 is still emitting a gas plume, and lava circulates weakly within the cone. Residual lava is still draining into the ocean near Pohoiki. Gas emissions at the summit, Pu’u O’o, and even the Lower East Rift Zone are low.

August 13, 2018. USGS: “During their overflight this morning, HVO scientists observed no new activity at any of the lower East Rift Zone fissures. At the fissure 8 vent, a “puddle” of sluggish lava remained in the cone. No other incandescent lava was seen along the fissure 8 channel, except at the ocean entry. Some other fissures were steaming, as seen here.” (Full-sized)

[This post is a followup to yesterday’s, where I reviewed HVO news, photos and videos from the past week. Here, I’m covering everything else: local news media outlets, images/videos from local photographers, and a week’s worth of good Q&A from HVO/USGS on social media.]

Miscellaneous SCIENCE-y news

Timelapse of Kilauea Caldera Aug 2-9

August 12 LERZ Overflight

The latest from the @HotSeatHawaii gang. Mick Kalber’s August 12 video shows a few fingers of red lava dribbling out of the delta, and Pohoiki’s new sandbar which is currently blocking the boat ramp, but that can be moved. There’s a quick sweep over the weakly steaming fissures of the LERZ and a glimpse into Fissure 8’s cone, and then they tried to take a distant look at Kilauea’s summit:

Here’s Mick’s observations from this flight.

Bruce Omori posted photos of the same flight on Facebook, including:

Continue reading August 13: Pele Is Sleeping, Part 2

Pu’u O’o 1983 versus Puna Eruption 2018

I came across this interesting paper on the last lava flow to threaten Lower Puna, just 3-4 years ago. It brings home just how remarkable the current eruption is.

Michael Poland, USGS: “The 2014–2015 Pāhoa lava flow crisis at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i: Disaster avoided and lessons learned” (Feb 2016)

[Video: Pu’u O’o lava flow 2014-2015]

Poland’s paper says that the Pu’u O’o lava flow (Episode 61e) that started June 27, 2014 was the longest at Kilauea in the past 500 years.* It eventually reached a length of ~20 km (12.43 miles), but it took until March 2015 to get there. Its average rate of speed was 0-500 meters a day.

By contrast, Fissure 8’s current flow started on May 26, 2018, and covered 13 km (8 miles) to the ocean by the evening of June 3 (eight days). At times it exceeded 500 meters per hour. 

This explains a lot.

I wondered why some residents of the Kapoho area said their evacuation orders came with “no warning,” or they didn’t bother to evacuate their belongings, or they didn’t think the lava would reach their house, even though the eruption had started a month before, and lava had been moving their way for a week.

But they’re used to the Pu’u O’o eruption of the past 35 years, which took years and years to reach and cover the community of Kalapana. The current eruption is covering as much ground in a week as Pu’u O’o took months to cover. And Pu’u O’o was traveling farther than any eruption in 500 years.

No wonder people were caught flat-footed!

Below: I created an animation of 3 HVO/USGS maps to show Pu’u O’o vs current Lower East Rift Zone lava flows.

Maps used to create this animation:

  1. USGS April 30 map of Pu’u O’o active lava flow (pink, Episode 61g, May 24, 2016-Apr 30, 2018) and older Pu’u O’o flows (gray, Jan 3, 1983-Apr 30, 2018)
  2. USGS May 2 map showing  magma was moving into Lower East Rift Zone (inferred by earthquakes); Pu’u O’o lava flows of past 35 years shown in pale pink, episode 61g in dark pink. The 2014-2015 (episode 61e) flow is the light Y-shaped area extending to the northeast. (Sorry, I don’t have acreage numbers for episode 61g, or for that matter final totals for the Pu’u O’o lava flows.)
  3. USGS June 10 map of active lava flows in Puna (Lower East Rift Zone) since May 3, 2018, with current flows in pink and historical flows (including the 2014 Pu’u O’o mentioned in that paper) in purple.

In short, the current 2018 eruption is hotter, faster, and covering so much ground that it’s surprising even to geologists, let alone residents. This is not the kind of volcanic eruption they’re used to.

*(Pu’u O’o’s 35-year eruption was exceeded by the 60-year Ailā‘au eruption that created the Thurston Lava Tube in the 1400s. After which, Kilauea caldera collapsed, and there were 300 years of explosive eruptions before Kilauea reverted to effusive (lava) eruptions. But don’t panic: we’re nowhere near 60 years of continuous lava flows even now. Also, two weeks ago the USGS said that only about 2% of the volume of magma in Kilauea’s magma chamber has erupted since May 3, and it’s still being resupplied from below.)


June 8: A Voggy, Voggy Day

Today’s eruption summary

…Status quo continues another day.

Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event - 06/08/18 Photos and Video

Fissure 8 continues to do its thing (fountains up to 230 ft today), pumping a vast river of lava towards Kapoho. Its flow front is about a mile wide where it meets the ocean. USGS reported ~190 acres of new land added to Hawaii as of noon. Some or all of this may be temporary, since “lava deltas” tend to collapse.

Kilauea, HI - East Rift Zone Eruption Event - 06/08/18 Photos and Video

[Above: 2 photos from Hawaii County Fire Department’s extensive videos/photos for June 8. Good to browse if you’re checking on homes in Kapoho.] 

Summit activity continues to follow its geyser-like cyclical pattern. Earthquakes increased until 2:44 AM, when there was an explosion (equivalent of M5.4), after which seismicity died down.  Pu’u O’o also had a small earthquake (3.2) and rockfalls today, sending up a red plume of ash. (Still hunting for photos, but it’s been reported several places.)

USGS: “Outgassing from Halema‘uma‘u produced twin pillars that rose in the still morning air and merged into a towering cap above the summit of Kīlauea just after sunrise.” (Full-sized)

East and southeasterly winds sent an unpleasant amount of vog over Hilo and the Saddle. This will continue through Saturday, then tradewinds come to the rescue.

Today’s Kilauea Alerts, Videos, Images, and Eruption News

Continue reading June 8: A Voggy, Voggy Day

May 31: 6PM Eruption Update – Conference Call

Normally I tuck the USGS media conference call into my digest for the day, but my notes are so long I decided to put this in its own post.

Summary: Eruption is continuing with no signs of stopping. Wendy Stovall gives all kinds of geeky tidbits about temperatures, heights, where the magma is coming from, plumbing system of Kilauea. She emphasizes that Kilauea receives a “continuous supply of magma from the deep mantle” thanks to its mantle plume. Scientists are starting to discuss calling this a new eruption, but their focus right now is on collecting data and getting info to Civil Defense.

Full notes (sorry they’re a little rough, but you’ve got the gist) below cut:

Continue reading May 31: 6PM Eruption Update – Conference Call

May 23: USGS Presentation on Puna Lava Eruption So Far

Tuesday evening, USGS Volcanologist Steve Brantley gave a  presentation in Pahoa High School. A lot of it is fairly simple, recapping the eruption for residents of Puna. I’ve covered most of what he does in previous posts. But there are a few new tidbits.

His takeaway is worth seeing if you don’t read/watch the rest:

…until that balance is reached, or something else changes, we expect magma to continue moving from the summit reservoir into the rift zone and further down into the Lower East Rift Zone. So that suggests that we’re in it for the long haul. We don’t know how long this eruption’s going to last, but for now, it looks like it’s just going to continue.

Full transcript below the cut.

Continue reading May 23: USGS Presentation on Puna Lava Eruption So Far

May 5: Pu’u O’o, Before and After

Screencaps from Mick Kalber flyover videos April 28 and May 4(?) as noted by @ReelNewsHawaii on Twitter.

May 3: Earthquakes, Empty Pu’u O’o

Foggy/rainy weather had limited visibility, but the skies cleared May 3. A USGS overflight revealed the crater was completely drained:

USGS Overflight reveals drained crater of Pu’u O’o. From HVO Photo & Video Chronology blog. Full Size image is worth seeing.

At 10:30 AM, a magnitude-5 earthquake caused more of the crater to collapse, throwing up a cloud of pink ash.

Pu’u O’o crater sends up cloud of ash after M5.0 earthquake. HVO Photo/Video blog. Again, Full-sized image is dramatic.

Pu’u O’o crater sends up cloud of ash after M5.0 earthquake. HVO Photo/Video blog. Again, Full-sized image is dramatic.

See also Mick Kalber’s May 2 flyover video.

Meanwhile, increased seismicity at the summit coincided with the summit lava lake changing from inflation to deflation— this is when it began to drop (source: HVO Volcano Watch).

May 1: Pu’u O’o’s Pink Ash Plume

On May 1st, the night after Pu’u O’o’s floor fell in, the newly-drained crater was sending up a huge plume of pink ash.*

Source: Mick Kalber of Tropical Visions, flying with Paradise Helicopters, annotated by Big Island Video News. Here’s Mick’s observations about this flyover on his vimeo page).


Continue reading May 1: Pu’u O’o’s Pink Ash Plume

Apr 30: Pu’u O’o Crater Collapse

The floor of Pu’u O’o collapsed in stages starting at 2PM in the afternoon and evening of April 30. Poor weather, fog and clouds obscured the view, but the thermal webcam positioned on Pu’u O’o’s  north rim captured it. Timelapse April 28-May 1:

This isn’t the first time it’s collapsed. Here’s a regular webcam timelapse movie of Pu’u O’o’s crater floor collapsing on March 5, 2011.

So there’s a chance the lava may return.


Apr 28: Pu’u O’o Lava Lake

Pu’u O’o: What it looked like just before it collapsed. See also this USGS timelapse movie of Pu’u O’o’s crater lava lake from March 20-April 18, and a blog post with a few good flyover photos on April 29.

(Pu’u O’o is a large vent on Kilauea’s shoulder that’s been erupting since 1983. See USGS / HVO photo history of the Pu’u O’o eruption.)