Today’s entry is going to be a challenge, because my computer chose a holiday to go pau. Arthritis and dodgy vision versus voice dictation and tablet — who will win?
Today’s eruption summary
The LERZ eruption continues pretty much as usual, with a few minor embellishments to keep field crews on their toes.
Today’s HVO update noted that Fissure 8 “has been pulsing with more vigorous output in 1-3 minute bursts.” When asked for clarification, USGSVolcanoes replied, “No true indication of change.” F8 continues to send lava downriver to Kapoho, where lava is oozing out along most of the broad front and encroaching on Kapoho Ag and Beach Lots properties.
Fissure 22 continues to spatter intermittently and produce a short, sluggish flow:
Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 5:45 am – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: Fissure 22 continues to spatter bits of lava…
…and it still looks like a kid’s science experiment. (It’s hard to tell from overhead, but it’s a perfect steep-sided cone.)
Remember how the lava channel clogged up temporarily around the bend at Kapoho Crater yesterday? It’s still having problems:
I lucked out this morning and caught @HotSeatHawaii ‘s sunrise overflight live, which offered a good view this. Part of the lava is going wide instead of making the sharp turn, though it joins back up around the bend. (More photos below.)
Today’s summit collapse/explosion occurred at 10:19 AM HST. The view was fairly clear today, and the rockfalls were spectacular:
Kilauea’s double eruption continues with little change, except for a few more spillovers. Fissure 8 is feeding its lava river, which continues to ooze out along a broad front on the northern side of the delta and into Kapoho Beach Lots. Fissure 22 continues to spatter intermittently and send out a less-than-impressive flow.
About a dozen Kapoho homes have succumbed to lava over the past week, and more are expected to go. The National Weather Service also reports that there were about 1,200 lightning strikes between 7am and 2pm yesterday during Monday’s lava-boosted thunderstorm in Lower Puna.
Today’s summit explosion occurred at 2:17am HST, with enough clouds that radar couldn’t find a plume (if any). Just to prove seismometers aren’t stuck, the magnitude registered as 5.1. Seismicity is back up to 20-30 quakes per hour after the lull.
Not to be superstitious or anything, but geologists need to stop giving Pele ideas. During yesterday’s media conference call, Mike Zoellner said, “They [lava boats] do present a risk, because if the flow of the channel jams them against the side and it contacts the levee, that disrupts the flow of the channel. It could divert either the flow itself or the lava going around the boat out of the channel.”
No major changes in the past 24 hours, except that the lava channel was full and spilling over its levees in a number of places this morning (as seen in this photo by Bruce Omori). For the most part, they weren’t venturing past the boundaries of earlier flows:
Monday, July 2, 2018, 5:45 am – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: A number of breaches of the channels can be seen here, as the fresher lava appears more silvery than the older.
Fissure 8 continues roaring along. With slack tradewinds today, it managed to whip up enough pyrocumulus to set off some localized thunderstorms. Fissure 22 is still spattering and feeding a small flow that’s going nowhere fast. At the ocean end of Fissure 8’s channel, lava is oozing out along a broad part of the lava delta and chewing further into what’s left of Kapoho Beach Lots:
Monday, July 2, 2018, 5:45 am – Kilauea's east rift zone overflight: Homes and property in Kapoho are being consumed by the flow's expanding northern boundary.
The latest summit explosion occurred at 1:24am HST July 2, the usual M5.3, with an ash plume ~1200 feet high. Immediately before, there were about 20-25 earthquakes an hour (a little less than in recent days) and dropped to 5/hour immediately afterwards (again, a little less).
[Below is a USGS video of the June 30 collapse/explosion as seen from Volcano House, I think, which gives a good view of the rockfalls all along the bluffs of the caldera walls]:
I haven’t mentioned LERZ seismicity in some time, because it’s been low for weeks. But I notice that section of HVO’s daily Kilauea update was amended starting yesterday. Since May, it’s reported “relatively low seismicity” and “low amplitude background tremor” with “numerous small earthquakes” in the LERZ plus occasional “higher amplitude tremor” near the ocean entry. Now it’s added, “Low amplitude tremor increased slightly on June 29 associated with renewed activity at Fissure 22.”
This post got long, so I’ve moved the Q&A session to Part 3. Again, I’m transcribing what HVO geologists had to say at the June 28 Volcano Village community meeting.
Part 1 was Kyle Anderson’s talk on seismicity and ground deformation— lots of nitty gritty science— while Part 2 was Don Swanson’s slideshow of some of the visible changes he’s observed within Kīlauea Caldera, with a lot of photos I haven’t seen anywhere else.
Here’s the video of the whole meeting.
Here’s my transcription of the Q&A session. A lot of these questions have already been answered online, but I like hearing direct, personal responses from some of the senior HVO scientists:
Fissure 8 gushes on unchallenged and unchanged, while Fissure 22 — remember the chief subject of Lavacam?— has started spattering 50-80m and sending out a modest lava flow headed NE along the edge of previous flows.
Down at the coast, lava continues to ooze out from under much of the northern part of the delta along a broad front, with “pasty” lava squeezing out in several places along Kapoho Beach Lots.
As of 8:30pm 11pm HST, I’m waiting for confirmation of the next summit collapse/explosion.
Besides Fissure 22 reactivating in earnest, the news today is that new digital elevation maps and satellite images give us a clear view of the subsidence of Kilauea Caldera around Halema’uma’u, which has begun to show in livestream and webcam views lately.
First of all, USGS seismologist Kyle Anderson posted this color-coded slide of caldera ground deformation in his Thursday evening talk:
Next, the Italian Space Agency’s trusty Cosmo-Skymed satellite has sent us another radar survey of Kilauea. Even though I’d observed dramatic subsidence of the caldera floor in recent livestream and webcam images, the last frame of this animation made me gasp:
We are well on our way to a nested caldera, with Halema’uma’u taking up over half the larger caldera floor. I’m hoping those earthquakes indicate where the edge of the new inner caldera will be, but I’m not a geologist. Here’s those scarps they mentioned, posted a few days ago:
Last but not least, the USGS posted this map of the fracturing around Halema’uma’u. Note that the diagram is projected onto a satellite photo of the pre-May caldera, so there’s a ghostly image of the Halema’uma’u we remember in that dark gray area.
So there you have it. Who would’ve thought the draining of the lava lake, which was minuscule compared to the whole summit caldera, would’ve had a domino effect this large?
This continues my transcription of the Thurs Jun 28 USGS presentation at Volcano Village. Part 1 transcribed HVO Scientist-in-Charge Tina Neal and seismologist Kyle Anderson’s remarks. Part 2 covers senior volcanologist and my longtime hero Don Swanson’s remarks.
Here’s the video of the entire 1.5 hour meeting. Don’s presentation starts at 15:50:
It sounds like Swanson’s been holed up in Volcano House after HVO was evacuated. (Kyle Anderson: “Don has spent more time viewing this eruption from the summit than anyone else.”)
Title of talk: “Comparisons of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, May 19 through June 28 Viewed from dining room table of Volcano House”
The data that Kyle showed are absolutely magnificent. What I want to do now is to show you some photographs of features that I’ve been able to see during my observations. The first will be a series of photographs of Halemaʻumaʻu taken from the seat in the dining room of the Volcano House hotel where I sit and observe things.
On May 19th, of course, things were just starting to get going, but over here on June 13th, you can see that the crater has widened dramatically, and notice that it’s also dropped to the top of the tree which was way below the— it’s come way down. It isn’t because the tree is growing! It’s because the crater is dropping down.
Now we’ll go to this next period, June 13th to the 17th.
Fissure 8 continues to behave much as it has for the last month or so, looking ever more like a Mordor backdrop:
Today’s official HVO Kilauea update is a copy-and-paste of yesterday’s, apart from this small addition describing the lava delta: “lava is moving beneath the crust and into [the] still-molten interior of earlier flows before it enters the sea in multiple oozeouts.” Like this:
Unfortunately, some of those “oozeouts” are occurring at the edge of Kapoho Beach Lots as well. At least one home burned today, perhaps more.
Check the Hawaii County Fire Department photos later in this post (or the Bruce Omori photos at the end of the post) to see what the slow-moving expansion into Kapoho Beach Lots looks like right now.
Kilauea’s summit is changing visibly day by day. Today’s collapse explosion came at 2:51pm, 31 hours after the previous event. Mag 5.3, as usual, with a 500-foot ash-poor plume (captured on livestream). It was somewhat obscured by dust from multiple rockfalls 3 minutes earlier. Here’s a before-and-after:
On Thursday, there was an hour and a half meeting with the USGS, National Park Service and residents of Volcano Village. Above is a video of the whole meeting. As usual, I’m interested in the geology, and so I’ve made a transcript of that part of the meeting. The first half of Kyle Anderson’s talk rehashes the “collapse/explosion” events that we’ve covered before, but the second half has a timelapse of Halema’uma’u from June 1st to June 28th — which I’ve rebuilt frame by frame, since I could just make out the timestamps— plus the latest Digital Elevation Model of Kilauea’s summit showing the slumping not only in Halema’uma’u, but across part of the caldera floor.
Scientist-in-Charge Tina Neal (HVO)
[5:40] [Introductory remarks, greetings and thanks]
[6:20] So tonight you’ll hear from familiar faces, Kyle Anderson and Don Swanson, who will give you an update on what the volcano is doing, what we think is happening, and we’ll touch on this very important question of how long and how big. Those are very hard questions to answer, so let me just preview that we’re not going to give you a wonderful take-away that will solve all that uncertainty. But we’ll do the best we can.
Fissure 8 and the summit explosions continue their status quo. However, for the last few days, the lava flow at Kapoho has been encroaching on new areas on its northern and southern boundaries at the coast.
At least 3 more Kapoho Beach Lot houses have burned on the north side, and the southern edge of the flow is burning vegetation and/or farmland west of Highway 137. I gather these new lateral outbreaks are due to the lava channel crusting over, about half a mile inland from the new coastline (see Wednesday’s thermal map). So instead of pouring straight from the channel into the ocean, lava is fanning out under the crust of the 2-mile-wide lava delta laid down earlier this month, then oozing out the sides.
[USGS drone footage of Fissure 8 from before dawn. They’re using drones for the first time to map flows, look for outbreaks and measure the lava river’s speed.]
At Kilauea’s summit, today’s collapse explosion occurred at 7:51am HST, June 29, with an ash-poor steam plume that rose 500 feet. (Steam?)The energy release dropped slightly to 5.2. I didn’t do a video capture, since the summit was blanketed in morning fog.
The “new news” today is that HVO has added two new views to its Kilauea Webcams page. One I’ve mentioned before, the old “Kilauea East” webcam from HVO’s 1990s website which has annoying reflections but a great view of the subsidence/collapse on the east side of Halema’uma’u Crater:
The other is a new heat-sensitive webcam which should make it possible to see “collapse explosions” at night:
Also, in this week’s “Volcano Watch” newsletter, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists explain the “piston” model they’ve developed to account for the daily collapse explosions at the summit:
This is big news. They’ve solved the mystery of the summit explosions! Subject to revision, of course; they’re still untangling the complexities of Kilauea’s current eruption. But the “piston” model accounts for the cyclical pattern they’re seeing better than the “steam explosion” model.