Kīlauea volcano eruption update
Lava flow branch building momentum
Update Thu 13 Nov 19:57An upper branch of the active lava flow has advanced roughly 375m/400yds over the past 2-3 days to within 300m/325yds of Apaʻa Street, on the other side of the recycling & waste transfer station.
Lava also continues to fill the driveways surrounding that facility and continues to threaten nearby power poles, which have been upgraded to steel, heavily insulated to a height of ~5m/15ft, and sprayed with water and foam by firefighters as part of this evolving experiment. Finally, the flow near the cemetery continues to widen to the north after burning the first residence in the area.
Pressure at the summit has fluctuated but generally remains high, giving no indication of any decrease of lava flows in the near future.
USGS-HVO photo of active lava flow areas on November 12, 2014.
Latest update map from USGS-HVO showing the quickening lava flow branch.
Lava flows into Pahoa transfer station
Update Wed 12 Nov 20:01Yesterday, lava flowed across the fence at the Pahoa transfer staion, a recycling and waste facility at the edge of town and across the street from the first residence which burned the day before. USGS-HVO reports that lava is currently filling the low area around the center of the facility, which had already been largely dismantled and relocated.
The first power pole surrounded by lava just down the road burned through its base sufficiently last week to be disconnected from its wires, which now hang a much longer distance over the lava flow. The other nearby power poles are now also under threat, posing a challenge to the utility company in providing uninterrupted electrical service as they have done so far.
Lava flows across the fence at Pahoa transfer station on November 10, 2014. (USGS-HVO)
Lava flows across the fence at Pahoa transfer station on November 10, 2014. (County of Hawaii)
Lava burns first Pahoa house as flow widens
Update Tue 11 Nov 06:00Today lava reached and burned an unoccupied home on private property near the transfer station on Apa`a Rd. Lava first flowed nearby on October 25, with the front approximately 50m/yds wide and 75m/yds away from the residence. The main flow went by, and after stalling near Pahoa Village Rd has widened upslope and nearby the transfer station. This is the first residence destroyed by lava from Pu`u `O`o since Jack's Lava House in March 2012.
Lava breakouts remain active behind stalled front
Update Sat 08 Nov 04:50
USGS-HVO image of breakout widening flow field on November 6, 2014 near Pahoa village.
-Below Pahoa cemetery, 450m/490yd above the main village road
-Above Apa`a Rd 150m/165yd, near waste & recycling center
-Above Apa`a Rd 700m/765yd, at top of narrow gulley
-Above Apa`a Rd 2.5km/1.5mi, north of Kaohe Homesteads
-Halfway to Pu`u `O`o, near where lava enters the large crack
-On Pu`u `O`o north flank, damaging HVO lava tube monitoring equipment
Other items of note:
-Pu`u `O`o tiltmeter has been repaired and will function normally again after a settling period of a few days
-Lava flow rate through the lava tube has increased with a cross-sectional flow area of 2.4 square meters, compared to 1.9 square meters the previous week at the same location
Lava flow stagnates, magma supply rate drops
Update Thu 06 Nov 14:25
According to HVO and visual impressions, current supply rates are low, giving the town some extra time for the time being - until a new surge of lava arrives at the flow front to give it a new push.
From HVP's most recent update:
The most significant (although still minor) breakout was located on about 2.5 km (1.5 miles) above Apa`a Street. Two small breakouts were also observed upslope of the crack system. The lava level in a lava-tube skylight on the flank of Pu`u `Ō`ō suggests lava discharge remains relatively low.
Lava flow continues to inflate, minor breakouts, but no further advance
Update Wed 05 Nov 08:51
Updated map of the lava flow in Pahoa as of 3 Nov 2014 (no major changes until early 5 Nov))
The most significant (although still minor) breakouts were occurring about 370 meters (405 yards) above Apaʻa Street on Tuesday afternoon.
A brief helicopter overflight on Tuesday afternoon confirmed that little surface lava is present on the June 27th flow field. The outbreaks on the north and south margins of the flow near Kaohe Homesteads have also subsided relative to a few days ago."
(USGS / HVO latest status report)
Lava front stalls behind barrier, activity continues further back
Update Mon 03 Nov 19:54Over the past few days, there has been no advance of the lava flow front towards residences in Pahoa, though active lava continues to break out from the margins of the flow behind its farthest reach. Luckily no residences have burned so far because of this slow-down, but locals await the seemingly inevitable pressure surge which will come from somewhere on the flow in the near future.
Latest update map from USGS-HVO showing widening of the flow field, with no advance of its closest point to Pahoa village.
Pahoa resident builds diversion barrier
Update Thu 30 Oct 19:35Prominent among other "hot topics" today, the Pahoa resident whose house is immediately in threat has constructed a 5m/15ft earth barrier to attempt to divert the lava around his house. While the legality of his action has come into question, local officials are stressing constructive dialog the unites, not divides, the community. However, as of this morning the lava has reached the barrier which still remains in place and began spreading around it. The earth barrier can be seen in the USGS photo in our previous post, as well as in the County images released this morning.
Other important developments are the arrival and deployment of 80 US National Guard who will work under the authority of the Police Department. These are local residents coming back to help their community as part of the supplementary force. Also, the power pole which has so far survived the lava flow has shown signs of burning but has been stabilized & reinforced with no loss of electricity to customers.
County of Hawaii media image of lava flow reaching earth barrier in Pahoa village on Oct 29, 2014.
County of Hawaii media image of lava flow front in Pahoa village on Oct 29, 2014.
Lava flows continue to move into Pahoa
Update Thu 30 Oct 04:01
As of 4:15 pm (29 Oct local time), the flow was about 185 m (202 yd) in a straight line distance from Pāhoa Village Road and about 775 meters (850 yd) in a straight-line distance from Highway 130.
The lava lobe south of the main flow and upslope of Apa`a Street was not active today, but there were a couple of small breakouts on the north side of the flow that have advanced 70 to 110 m (75 to 120 yd) in the past day. (HVO's latest update)
Lava continues slow advance through Pahoa
Update Wed 29 Oct 19:00According to the latest report, the lava flow front is now 280 m/yds from Pahoa Village Road, averaging about 10 m/yds per hour. Lava has already consumed a few small agricultural structures, and there are perhaps 10-15 residences in its direct path on both sides of the road. Residents have been placed on an "evacuation notice" without being forced to leave, so that they can see what happens to their property and hopefully bring some emotional closure to the ordeal.
Update Wed 29 Oct 00:29
Pahoa town awaits slowing flows
Update Wed 29 Oct 00:25Today's preliminary reports from Pahoa indicate the lava flow is only advancing around 10m/hr after having consumed a small shack on private property, and is still threatening other structures nearby. The slowing comes as lava fills a small depression in the topography, with steeper ground and faster movement rates expected ahead. Based on current projections, the lava will most likely cross Pahoa Village Road sometime tomorrow, though with lots of uncertainty as there has been no increase yet in the flow's speed.
Residents and visitors have been cycling through the main village road, which has been partially closed as the utility company installs new, taller power poles to move wires farther from the heat of the lava, while continuing to insulate the base of the poles against burning. A similar approach has been effective so far on Apa`a Rd, though the lava is likely to expand and test these defenses further in coming weeks.
Lava flow advances through residential areas of Pahoa
Update Tue 28 Oct 19:34
Residents of Pahoa are preparing to evacuate their homes.
From HVO's update this evening (morning local time):
"The June 27th flow is advancing northeast through residential areas between Apaʻa St/Cemetery Rd and Pāhoa Village Road. The leading edge of the fastest advancing lobe of the flow has been moving at rates varying between 10 and 15 m/hr (11 to 16 yd/hr) during the past 24 hours, except for a period between 2am and 5am, when the front stopped advancing and the flow inflated in a small topographic low.
At 6am, the lobe was about 75m (82 yd) wide. At 9AM, the flow front was about 440 m (480 yd) straight-line distance from Pāhoa Village Road and was advancing at 15 m/hr (16yd/hr)."
Lava flow only hours away from Pahoa houses
Update Mon 27 Oct 21:14According to Hawai`i County Civil Defense:
"This is an eruption and lava flow Information Update for Monday October 27th at 7:30AM. The flow continues to remain active and has advanced approximately 275 yards since yesterday morning. The flow front is currently moving in a northeast direction and is approximately 100 yards from the nearest residential property. The flow advancement has been inconsistent however averaging approximately 10-15 yards per hour."
So far the County of Hawai`i has not allowed any ground access for locals, visitors or media, creating a controversy with locals threatening to march on the barricades. This is an emotional time for many people who feel the need to visit the lava flow as an act of closure, as well as to document the historic occasion.
However, the county is releasing media imagery documenting some events, a selection of which is included below.
Lava only approx. 500 m from Pahoa village road
Update Mon 27 Oct 18:28
from HVO's latest update:
The relatively narrow finger of lava that crossed Apaʻa Street yesterday morning continued to travel downslope, splitting into two lobes as it advanced. The faster, northern lobe crossed completely through the Pāhoa cemetery by mid-morning, while the slower southern lobe was advancing through open pasture south of the cemetery. Another lobe farther upslope, just above Apaʻa Street, advanced about 50 meters (55 yards) since yesterday.
Over the course of the day, the advance rate of the narrow finger that crossed the cemetery varied from about 10 and 15 meters per hour (11 to 16 yards per hour), which is equivalent to 240–360 meters per day (260–390 yards per day). As of 5 PM, the faster-moving finger was about 390 meters (425 yards) downslope of Apaʻa Street and 660 meters (720 yards) upslope from Pāhoa Village Road. It had an average width of about 40 m (45 yd). The slightly slower-moving southern lobe in the pasture south of the cemetery reached slightly steeper terrain at mid-afternoon today, and was traveling at about 9 meters per hour (10 yards per hour) at 5 PM. It will likely rejoin with the finger that came through the cemetery near the northeast end of the pasture.
The pasture is located between two of the steepest decent paths plotted on HVO’s lava flow maps, and the flow is trending toward the southerly of these two paths. This path joins the northerly steepest-descent path about mid-way between the cemetery and Pāhoa Village Road, so the inferred flow path leading to Pāhoa Village Road is unchanged.
Lava continues to advance towards Pahoa
Update Mon 27 Oct 09:53
From this morning's update by HVO who monitor the situation closely:
"The relatively narrow finger of lava that crossed Apaʻa Street yesterday morning continued to travel downslope, splitting into two lobes as it advanced. The faster, northern lobe crossed completely through the Pāhoa cemetery by mid-morning, while the slower southern lobe was advancing through open pasture south of the cemetery. Another lobe farther upslope, just above Apaʻa Street, advanced about 50 meters (55 yards) since yesterday.
"Over the course of the day, the advance rate of the narrow finger that crossed the cemetery varied from about 10 and 15 meters per hour (11 to 16 yards per hour), which is equivalent to 240–360 meters per day (260–390 yards per day). As of 5 PM, the faster-moving finger was about 390 meters (425 yards) downslope of Apaʻa Street and 660 meters (720 yards) upslope from Pāhoa Village Road. It had an average width of about 40 m (45 yd). The slightly slower-moving southern lobe in the pasture south of the cemetery reached slightly steeper terrain at mid-afternoon today, and was traveling at about 9 meters per hour (10 yards per hour) at 5 PM. It will likely rejoin with the finger that came through the cemetery near the northeast end of the pasture.
"The pasture is located between two of the steepest decent paths plotted on HVO’s lava flow maps, and the flow is trending toward the southerly of these two paths. This path joins the northerly steepest-descent path about mid-way between the cemetery and Pāhoa Village Road, so the inferred flow path leading to Pāhoa Village Road is unchanged."
Lava flow advances through cemetery
Update Sun 26 Oct 21:59
The Kilauea lava flow shown on a satellite photo of Pahoa on 25 Oct evening. Today, the flow has already advanced through the cemetery of Pahoa village.
Lava flows continue to advance, evacuations possible within days
Update Sun 26 Oct 09:50
Between 40 and 50 households could be evacuated within the next few days, as soon as Tuesday, if the lava continues to advance at current rates (approx. 250 m per day) and follows the most likely paths.
The lava flow front, approx. 70 m wide, is headed northeast and only 1 km straight line distance from Pahoa Village Road,” he said. The best guess of HVO is that the lava might cross Pahoa Village Road a little bit west of the Pahoa Post Office.
The Hawaii Electric Light Company is trying to protect their wooden utility poles by encasing them with concrete, and thus, preventing the lava to burn it, but rather flow around them. So far, one pole engulfed in the lava flows have survived, but as the flows inflate, their fate might be different.
HVO's latest update:
"Earlier that morning, at about 3:50 AM, HST, the narrow finger that had been moving rapidly downslope reached and crossed Apaʻa Street / Cemetery Road near the driveway to the Pāhoa cemetery. The lobe located to the southeast of the narrow finger, described in yesterday’s status report, is no longer advancing.
"Over the course of yesterday, the advance rate of the narrow finger varied between 10 and 15 m/hr (11 to 16 yd/hr)—that’s equivalent to 240–360 m/day (260–390 yd/day). Through the morning, the flow moved downslope along the cemetery driveway before veering to the southeast into the adjoining pasture in the early afternoon.
"As of 5 PM, the flow was about 90 m (100 yd) above the cemetery and 160 m (175 yd) downslope of Apaʻa Street, and it had an average width of about 40 m (45 yd).
"The pasture between Apaʻa Street and the cemetery is characterized by gentle topography, but the slopes increase at or just below the cemetery. If the flow reaches this point, its advance rate may increase.
"The pasture is located between two of the steepest decent paths plotted on HVO’s lava flow maps, and it is unclear at this point which path the flow will follow. Both paths, however, join just below the cemetery, so the overall flow path leading to Pāhoa Village Road is unchanged."
Lava crosses Apa‘a Street, enters Pahoa
Update Sat 25 Oct 21:12The lava flows have now crossed the Apa'a Street and thus, formally, entered the area of the village of Pahoa.
The lava flow advance accelerated Thursday and has been progressing along 2 lobes with speeds of up to 10 meters per hour.
The first lava touched the road at around 3:30 am local time this morning, just south of the evacuated Transfer Station (waste plant).
So far, no evacuations are on order for Pahoa itself, but the situation is becoming tenser with each hour as lava continues to approach inhabited areas. If current rates of lava flow advances continue, first evacuations could become necessary within 3-5 days.
Lava flows approach Apa'a road in Pahoa
Update Fri 24 Oct 14:23
The rate of advance of the flow, now at 21 km distance from its vent, has been highly variable, from an average rate of about 80 m/day during the previous week to rates as high as 300 m/day (330 yd/day) at times from Monday to Wednesday.
If the advance of the lava continues at current rates, the first lava to touch the Apa'a road could occur within hours or days. A mobile monitoring station was installed to continuously keep track of the progression of the lava.
For the time being, no evacuations are ordered for residents of Pahoa or Kaohe Homesteads, but the Pahoa Recycling and Transfer Station will close on Friday and will be temporarily (or permanently) relocated to an area on Kauhale Road approximately 2 km to the east, where it is thought to be outside the path of potential lava flows following the dominant topographic slope.
Reopening of Chain of Craters road
As a response to the increasing threat of lava entering Pahoa and interrupting highway 130, the government decided to start works to reopen the "Chain of Craters Road", closed since November 1986 when lava flows from Kupaianah'a and later from Pu'u 'O'o vents began to cover an approx. 18 km long section of the road along the coast, mostly during the 1990-2000s.
The reason to open the Chain of Craters Road is to provide an alternative access to the south-eastern part of Big Island in case of interruption of road 130. The estimated cost is between 12 and 15.5 million USD.
Halema'uma'u lava lake
On the summit, the lava lake inside Halema'uma'u crater has been more or less stable. A small collapse of a part of the crater wall during the night 19-20 Oct produced a violent degassing phase, or an explosion, which likely ejected incandescent bombs to the outer crater rim - and would have been extremely dangerous for any observers there:this is the main reason the area is closed to visitors.
Source: HVO / Culture Volcan
Lava flow continues to advance slowly towards Pahoa
Update Fri 17 Oct 14:46
The June 27th lava flow advancement has slowed, with the leading edge of the flow moving only a few tens of meters (yards) over the past two days.
Nevertheless, active breakouts persist around the flow front, as shown in this photo by the continued burning of vegetation along the flow margins. On 15 Oct morning, the flow front was 1.1 km (0.7 miles) from Apaʻa St., as measured along a straight line. (HVO / USGS)
Lava pressure returns, flows reestablish pathways
Update Tue 30 Sep 20:31Following several days of increased pressure at Kilauea's summit, lava activity is picking up on the June 27th flow with new flows continuing to move to the north, on a pathway leading slightly away from the town of Pāhoa for now.
Lava activity is present wherever the pressure has caused "leaking" from the lava tube system, not only close to the stalled front but also farther "upstream". However, the fact that there is plenty of lava returning to the flow front indicates that this pathway remains open, and the flow will most likely gain momentum and pick up speed over the next several days.
The threat is not past for Pāhoa, but this is certainly a positive development for the small town. The threat to the county highway continues although delayed, and work continues on several bypasses through the lower communities while work on the Chain of Craters road has been underway for about a week. New routes for power lines are also under development, so that the impact will theoretically be minimized once the lava does eventually cut off the highway. Several small private schools have already closed due to the uncertainty, but most everyone else continues to watch and wait.
Aerial view of lava flow system on September 29, 2014 by USGS-HVO.
Latest eruption map.
Screen capture of Kilauea tilt signal on September 30, 2014.