June 24: Aviation Color Code Dropped to Orange

Today’s Eruption Summary

The new news today is that HVO/USGS downgraded Kilauea’s FAA warning level:

“Since late May, these collapse/explosion events have rarely produced significant ash plumes rising more than 10,000 feet above sea level where they can pose a significant hazard to aviation. For this reason, HVO is reducing the aviation color code from RED to ORANGE.”

Full text of this HVO Volcanic Activity Notice | Guide to Codes

June 24, 2018. USGS early morning overflight of Fissure 8. (Full-sized)

I almost feel like the recent code downgrades for Kilauea and Mauna Loa were a tacit rebuttal of the scaremongers trying to conjure an island-wide catastrophe out of hot air. But I suppose I’m being as irrational as they are. There were specific numbers and criteria for both these status changes.

Down at the LERZ, status quo continues. Fissure 8’s lava fountains are vigorous but seldom peep over the cone they’ve built (now 180′). Minor overflows spill out near the head of the lava river without going far. The ocean entry is concentrated mostly at the main lava channel channel near the south end of the lava delta, but some fans out along a 1km stretch.

USGS: “The spatter cone at fissure 8 is now about 55 m (180 ft) tall. Lava fountains rise only occasionally above that point, sending a shower of tephra (cooled lava fragments) over the rim.” (Full-sized)

Today’s collapse explosion went off at 4:12pm, M5.3, partly hidden on the livestream by a dust cloud from rockfalls 4 minutes earlier. Just as yesterday, I noticed the “collapse explosion” started with a visible camera shake, unlike earlier rockfalls that made me think, “Waaaaait— was that it?” The explosion itself didn’t send up much dust past the rim of Halema’uma’u. About a minute later, dust from caldera wall rockfalls (I think?) blew past.

Below: Rockfalls, dust cloud, then I fast forwarded to the collapse explosion.

Today’s USGS Kilauea update gave additional details for yesterday’s explosion which probably apply to today’s as well: “Seismicity dropped abruptly from a high of 25-30 earthquakes per hour (many in the magnitude 2-3 range) prior to the collapse explosion down to 10 or less earthquakes per hour afterwards. Within 4 hours seismicity began to creep up again averaging about 25 earthquakes per hour by daybreak (June 24)” i.e. about 14 hours later.

Continue reading June 24: Aviation Color Code Dropped to Orange

June 19: Steve Brantley USGS Talk on Eruption Status

On Tuesday, June 19, there was a Puna Community Meeting at Pahoa High School at 5pm. As usual, Steve Brantley of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory/USGS gave an excellent slide presentation reviewing the current state of the Kilauea eruiption. He covered the “perched lava flow” in the Lower Rift Zone and the dramatic changes at the summit, placing each in context with previous similar events. (I didn’t realize there were records of many past Halema’uma’u collapses).

Video of the entire meeting is posted here. The USGS talk starts at 42:40. I’ve transcribed it below, adding photos when I have something close (and restoring his graphs/diagrams which don’t come through very well on video recording).

Steve Brantley, HVO/USGS:

Continue reading June 19: Steve Brantley USGS Talk on Eruption Status

June 20: Jaggar Museum Collection Rescued

Today’s Eruption Summary:

Status quo continues, with Fissure 8 feeding a large, fast-flowing channel to the ocean, where it’s entering on the south side of the lava delta today. Upstream along the river, there’s occasional spillovers, but these never travel far from the levees. Top speeds on June 18 were measured at 20mph, by the way. Fissures 6 and 16 have reverted to fuming. (I see no white speck left of Fissure 8 on the LERZ webcam [correction: it’s back at 9:45pm]). Today’s summit explosion occurred at 4:22am (5.3ish), with a minor ash plume rising 6,000 feet above sea level (2000 feet above Kilauea).

Saying Goodbye (At Least For Now)
USGS: “The rock wall at the Jaggar Museum Overlook is cracked and crumbling.
USGS image taken June 18, 2018.”

Today’s big news was confirmation that Jaggar Museum has evacuated its exhibits:

Hawaii Volcanoes NPS: “The cracks on the floor are from earthquake damage. Structural damage from the quakes may have already compromised the building. The observation deck has a new and noticeable tilt. The bigger worry is the increasing and dangerous instability of the crater rim under the building.”

Meanwhile, HVO staff is “making arrangements to remove as much archival and historical material as possible from the buildings,”  They’re so busy monitoring this eruption that I think they may need to hire movers:

Outside, it’s time to bid farewell to the old Halema’uma’u overlook & parking lot:

USGS: “View of the southern edge of the growing Halema‘uma‘u crater (middle right) during yesterday’s [Jun 19] helicopter-assisted work at Kīlauea’s summit. The once-popular parking lot (closed since 2008) that provided access to Halema‘uma‘u is no longer–the parking lot fell into the crater this past week as more and more of the Kīlauea Crater floor slides into Halema‘uma‘u. The Crater Rim Drive road (middle) now ends at Halema‘uma‘u instead of the parking lot. The view is toward the west-northwest.” (Full-sized)

Continue reading June 20: Jaggar Museum Collection Rescued

June 19: Magnificent Desolation

Six weeks in, this eruption can still take one’s breath away.

USGS: During the helicopter overflight on June 18, crews captured this image of the growing Halema‘uma‘u crater viewed to the southeast. With HVO and Jagger Museum sitting on the caldera rim (right side, middle where the road bends to the left) it is easier to comprehend the scale of subsidence at the summit. The estimated total volume loss is about 260 million cubic meters as of June 15th. (Full-sized)

USGS: “Fissure 8 vigor increased overnight June 18-19 with lava fountains reaching up to 60 m (200 ft). Spatter built up the cone to the east and into the channel. In this photograph, spatter lands on the east cone and flows downward.” (Full-sized)
Today’s Eruption Summary

Today’s summit explosion came early, 5:05am HST, with a weak ash/gas plume that reached 5,000 feet above sea level (Kilauea is ~4,000). Every one of these explosions means more downdropping and subsidence, resulting in the colossal changes we’re seeing to Halema’uma’u.

In the Lower East Rift Zone, Fissure 8 climbed back up to 200 foot fountains last night, beefing up the sides of its cone with spatter (but not adding much more height).  This morning the river was full to the top of its levees with a few minor breakouts.

Some of these overflows made it past the edge of earlier flows. One went north up Pohoiki Road a short distance before stalling, while another crept northwest along Luana Street. Fissure 6, 15, 16 are “oozing” lava and steaming. Near the ocean, the channel has forked to create two ocean entries, but the only place where it’s still covering more land is a creeping southwest edge of the lava flow in the Vacationland area.

(Above vimeo channel is nothing but daily ocean entry videos.)

More USGS Images and Videos

Continue reading June 19: Magnificent Desolation

Jun 19: 11am USGS Conference Call

Fissure 8 from HCFC overflight, June 19, 2018. (Full-sized)

Link: Full audio for Tuesday, June 19 USGS media conference call

  • USGS Eruption update: Status quo continues for summit explosions and Fissure 8.
  • NWS: Tradewinds return Thurs eve/Fri, vog winds in meantime.
  • NWP tells about places that ARE open, park-related activities.
  • Question & Answer session…

Continue reading Jun 19: 11am USGS Conference Call

June 18: Harry Kim Needs to Rest

Today’s Eruption Summary
USGS gif of F8 lava flow  Jun 17.

Fissure 8’s still doing its thing, fountaining 150-180 feet overnight with 164 foot spatter cone. The usual minor spillovers on the channel to the ocean. Today the lava’s entering the ocean mostly on the south side of the lava delta in the vicinity of Vacationland. Fissure 16/18 are still oozing, and fissure 6 (the bright spot to the left of Fissure 8 on the LERZ webcam at night) is intermittently incandescent or spattering. Both are “forming small lava flows on top of the existing flows.

USGS on Facebook: “About midday, minor amounts of lava spilled over the channel levees but did not advance very far. USGS image taken June 18, 2018 of the upper flow field, just downstream from fissure 8. The ocean entry is marked by a visible plume in the upper left.”

The summit’s daily explosion occurred at 6:12 am, moment magnitude 5.3. It produced a “very small, minor plume that went no more than 500 meters above the ground.” (Brian Shiro in 11AM conference call):

I rewound the Kilauea livestream to watch. The crater was steaming with small white puffy clouds of morning condensation. I saw the window frame vibrate, but the short-lived plume of ash/steam obscured the crater rim, so I didn’t spot any downdrops or rockfalls like we’ve seen for the past few days.

Below: Lots of great photos of summit and LERZ lava field today, and excellent Q&As from USGS on social media.

Continue reading June 18: Harry Kim Needs to Rest

June 18: USGS Kilauea Conference Call

BigIslandVideoNews posted an abridged version of today’s USGS Media Conference Call:

Here’s the full unabridged audio recording.  Below, I take notes/paraphrase, for anyone who’s especially interested in the nitty gritty of what’s going on with the volcano.

June 18 USGS 11AM Media Conference Call

Continue reading June 18: USGS Kilauea Conference Call

June 12: Steve Brantley (USGS) Weekly Talk on Eruption

I didn’t realize I’d missed one of Steve Brantley’s excellent 10-minute slideshow presentations at the weekly Puna Community Meetings. This one took place on Tuesday, June 12 at Pahoa High School.

I learn something from every one of these talks, which sum up Kilauea eruption activity of the past week in a way that’s easy for the general public to understand without talking down to them.

Video of meeting is archived here. Steve’s presentation starts at timestamp 42:10. Where possible, I’ll be including images in my transcript which match his slides.

(Steve Brantley is a USGS geologist, deputy-scientist-in-charge of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.)


Hello everybody. Thank you for coming out again and thank you for your perseverance. I’ll show a couple slides of what’s been happening down in this part of the neighborhood and end with some slides of the summit area, which continues to change very dramatically.

Cutaway Diagram of Kilauea Volcano, adapted from USGS Characteristics of Hawaiian Volcanoes. (I’ve adjusted text and drawn arrow to match Steve Brantley’s slide in his presentations.)

So this is  the overview slide I’ve showed for the past few times. It gives you the overall picture. It’s an image, cartoon, from the summit area all the way out to the eastern tip of the island. The summit area here [under “Kilauea Caldera” label], eastern tip [down by “Kapoho Crater”], with a cross section showing you the general picture of the magma reservoir system from the summit of the volcano down through the East Rift Zone and into the Lower East Rift Zone.

Continue reading June 12: Steve Brantley (USGS) Weekly Talk on Eruption