Kīlauea volcano eruption update
Lava front retreats away from Pahoa
Update Mon 24 Nov 19:29To present, USGS-HVO and County of Hawai`i report that lava has reoccupied the tube system only as far as the cracks near the old geothermal well site (recognized as a clearing in the thicker forest in photographs). From there, it has spilled out and is forming a new flow lobe farther west from the previous one which stopped just short of Pahoa Village Road and that now appears to be hardening without further advance. The current front is now 5.8km/3.6mi upslope from Apa`a St measured in a straight line, which means Pahoa has escaped its most urgent threat. The county is reopening the Pahoa Village Road today, previously blocked off as the power company reenforced their poles with huge piles of rock, which they have now removed again to allow the flow of traffic. While it's possible that the new flow could turn towards the outskirts of Pahoa again, it took the previous flow 7 weeks to reach Apa`a St and it's reasonable to expect a similar timeline again, keeping in mind that another flow front may develop near the breakout site nearby Pu`u Kahauale`a and divert much of the lava that could otherwise head to Pahoa. The next several days of lava activity should give some hint of an answer to the question. Finally, it may be noteworthy that there has been increased earthquake activity south of the caldera, with a 3.6 and 3.3 felt by area residents in the past 3 days.
USGS-HVO/NASA image of active flow areas on November 22, 2014.
USGS-HVO photo of lava activity escaping crack system more than 3mi/5km from Pahoa village on November 19, 2014.
New breakouts along lava tube as surge moves downhill
Update Wed 19 Nov 18:51A new surge of lava over the past 2-3 days is moving through and leaking from lava tubes that until recently were feeding the eruption front in Pahoa village. Prior to the surge, the lava flow's forward progress had stalled once again with the little remaining activity both widening and inflating the flow field. It remains to be seen how far this surge can move through the pre-existing lava tube towards Pahoa, having so far travelled "about 11 km (7 mi) in a straight line distance downslope of Pu`u `Ō`ō" according to the County of Hawai`i and USGS-HVO.
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.