Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i - eruption updates 2012
Ocean entry widens, lava lakes rising again
Update Wed 16 Jan 23:14
There is also a big breakout of lava flows on the coastal plain closer to the base of the pali, with more vigorous action but at a farther distance for those willing and able. This activity has persisted for almost a week amidst a general pattern of inflation and more lava on the volcano over the recent month.
In fact this renewed pressure has caused the Halema`uma`u lava lake to rise within 30m/100ft of spilling onto the 1974 crater floor, close to our record high for the current eruption of 27m/89ft on October 26, 2012. Frequent cracking & booming sounds are audible from the Jaggar Overlook in the National Park, with very strong glow from dusk to dawn. Previous estimates indicate the lava lake would be directly visible from Jaggar Overlook if it rises to within 20m/65ft, so stay tuned for the inevitable!
High pressure has also played a part in a persistent lava lake present within Pu`u `O`o crater spilling out and continuing to repave the crater floor, as well as actually overflowing the eastern crater walls on several occasions during the past week! A string of clear nights on the typically cloudy side of the island has allowed views of glow from that area from a distance.
Earthquake counts are also increased as the volcano strains over the magmatic pressure, with a M4.6 widely felt across the island on January 5, 2013 at the beginning of the sequence. The summit GPS line shows a similar uptick since about the same time, leading us to speculate that once again more magma is entering the volcano from below than is leaving it from above through lava flows.
This brings us back to an increasingly common situation of wondering how the volcano will relieve this new pressure, with its options being more abundant and more vigorous lava flows, lava lakes spilling over from both craters, or a new fissure eruption in the months to come. We've already had 3 new fissures and 2 major increases in lava flows in the last 2 years, Pu`u `O`o has spilled over or out several times, and the Halema`uma`u lava lakes inches ever closer. What will happen next?? Come join us on the volcano and find out!
Lava reaches ocean
Update Sun 25 Nov 10:01
Steady lava flows continue to enter the ocean with fantastic views to be had over the next days, weeks and hopefully longer, but with a host of additional hazards to be considered for the adventurous traveler. Experienced & licensed guides can get you there and back safely across private land, and keep you in the right places to avoid dangerous gases, land collapses, steam explosions and scalding ocean waves, among other hazards.
In December 2011, a new ocean entry persisted for about 3 weeks before a large deflation sequence disrupted the lava tube and forced a new path to the ocean, finally achieved today after nearly 11 months. It's completely possible that such a disruption could happen again, so don't delay in your travel plans! Let us know how we can help, and aloha from Hawai‘i!
Lava flows almost to ocean, summit stabilizes
Update Thu 15 Nov 20:58
Lava flows on Kīlauea's coastal plain on October 30, 2012.
Lava flows on Kīlauea's coastal plain on October 30, 2012.
USGS-HVO infrared image of the lava tube system on November 1, 2012.
After a month of building pressure, increased earthquakes along Kīlauea's upper east rift zone, and the highest lava lake levels recorded within the summit crater of Halema‘uma‘u -- within 27m/89ft of the previous crater floor, just 7m/24ft out of sight -- the situation on the volcano has stabilized within the past 2 weeks.
The summit lava lake, while still at elevated levels, is no long rapidly rising, and the GPS distance across the caldera has significantly slowed as well -- both indicating a release of summit pressure on the volcano. The lava lake has remained below an inner ledge within the pit 31m/100ft below the old crater floor since October 28, 2012. Concurrently, pressure on the flow-field seems to have increased, so we speculate that some blockage between the summit and lava tube system from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō has been cleared (likely within the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō area based on publicly available data).
This is good news for those wanting to access lava flows legally with experienced guides, as there continues to be lots of lava safely accessible. The activity is still variable with a big breakout on the hillside early this morning which could rob some lava from the flow closest to the ocean -- only time will tell where Pele will travel!
However, the possibility of seeing lava flowing over the sea-cliff into the ocean is a tantalizing one, as these views are safest and most beautiful within the first few days to weeks of an ocean entry being established. After that time, many active flows on the surface will stagnate in preference of the ocean entry, while at the same time a growing lava delta reaches the point of potentially dangerous collapse.
This means that while we may be blessed with the beautiful sight of lava entering the ocean, it's often not as easy to approach it closely and interact with the molten rock due to the many hazards of an ocean entry -- mainly collapses & explosions, hydrochloric & sulfuric acid clouds, and scalding & steaming ocean water. As always, Kīlauea offers a variety of changing volcanic sights for those people well-prepared to see it! Come and join us while the viewing is at its best!
Halema‘uma‘u lava lake reaching record levels
Update Wed 24 Oct 01:11
Through a series of rise/fall cycles with more rising than falling, the lake rose 8m/26ft on Thursday, then 4m/13ft on Friday, then another 5m/16ft on Sunday to reach the current record. The high lava levels are producing frequent booming sounds audible from the Jaggar Overlook, a result of the cracking of the crater walls from the immense heat of the lava lake! If the level reaches 20m/65ft deep, we expect the lava lake will be directly visible from the Jaggar Overlook. There are already reports of spatter being thrown to these heights and visible from the overlook (especially during collapse events), so keep your eyes and ears open when you come to visit!
Pressure builds as lava flows continue
Update Fri 19 Oct 05:57
Our tour photo of active lava flows on October 15, 2012.
Halema'uma'u webcam capture showing record lava lavels on October 18, 2012 from USGS-HVO.
USGS-HVO aerial photo of the summit lava lake on October 17, 2012.
This is great news for our visitors, with active lava still available until the next major change in the eruption AND spectacular glow from the volcano's summit to be seen! Keep up with the action through our Kilauea webcams / live data" link (permanently on our right sidebar), combining many of the USGS & other data feeds into the same display! The USGS Photos & Videos page also has great photos and recent movies of the active lava lakes and other activity.
Meanwhile, increased pressure has been causing increased swelling of the summit, evidenced by the background tilt level (notwithstanding the occasional DI dip and recovery) and increased GPS spreading rate. This pressure seems to be reaching the east rift zone, with an uptick in seismic activity in the usual bottleneck locations but more importantly with the 8mm spreading of GPS on Pu`u `Ō`ō crater since the start of the month, which puts us on a very high alert for a change in the volcano's activity. Very similar activity preceded the March 2011 Kamoamoa fissure during the month prior to that eruption, so stay tuned!
Lava flow-front retreats and lava tubes reform
Update Wed 12 Sep 22:48
Unfortunately, this means lava is no longer accessible on the coastal plain until these new flows make their way further downhill. In the past few years, similar situations have fed lava flows to the coastal plain in as little as 2 days or as long as 2 months, so as always we wait & hope for the best! For those looking for the best volcanic sites today, it is possible to see the lava from a 10km/6mi distance from the Public Viewing area in Kalapana after dark, and there has been no change in the spectacular glow visible at night from the Jaggar Overlook inside the National Park. Contact us today to arrange a custom private tour which is flexible to eruption conditions during your visit!
We will follow the situation closely and continue to post updates as it evolves, and in the meantime are compiling our notes from last month's conference to present them in the simplest way to our followers. Stay tuned!
Images: USGS-HVO Photos & Video
Lava flows still active below pali
Update Mon 20 Aug 01:53The last month of activity on Kīlauea has seen no major changes in eruption sites and activity, though we still see lots of variation in the vigor of lava flows with every visit. There have been fewer Deflation-Inflation (DI) pressure cycles over the past month, but still enough to keep us on our toes!
This week the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory celebrates their centennial by hosting the AGU Chapman Conference, "From Source to Surface" on the Kona side of the Big Island, whose goal is "review the state-of-the-art in understanding of how Hawaiian volcanoes work and to assess the most important problems requiring future research." Check back with us next week for an update on the most exciting topics. And as has been true for most of 2012, activity on Kīlauea is putting on quite a show! Contact us directly for more information on experiencing the volcano and its eruptions first-hand!
Lava flows continue through pressure cycles
Update Sun 22 Jul 02:12
Waine & Sally by the active lava flow on July 10, 2012
Lava flows below the hillside on July 10, 2012.
Interacting with the lava flow and spirit of Pele!
The closer and safer access to active lava flows on the coastal plain is crossing private land with an authorized guide from the Kalapana side -- and it's still a 7-mile round-trip which can feel like twice that distance. When lava is present in the National Park, that hike is estimated to be a 12-mile round-trip. Check out our most recent Kalapana lava flow time-lapse on our YouTube channel.
Meanwhile strong glow continues from Kīlauea's summit, easily visible from the Jaggar Overlook on most nights, weather permitting. We've also compiled a summit timelapse as the glow appears with the coming of night for those of you who aren't able to come and share the first-hand experience. Great activity on Kīlauea continues!
East lava flow branch reaches plain
Update Mon 02 Jul 06:32
Active pahoehoe lava crossing an older ‘ā‘ā flow near the base of the pali on June 30, 2012.
Meanwhile, the eastern active lava flow branch which reactivated above the pali (hillside) one month ago has reached the coastal plain once again, while the western branch continues to fill in low areas, inflate and slowly inch its way closer to the ocean. Lava flows are still accessible over private land from Kalapana with authorized guides by means of a 7mi/11km round-trip hike, or possibly from the National Park side (as lava is reported to be lingering on the National Park boundary) by means of a ~12mi/19km round-trip hike from the downwind direction.
There is still more magma entering the volcano than erupting from it, so the summit caldera continues to swell even as we enjoy a temporary equilibrium! Changes are surely coming, the question is only when and where so stay tuned!
Active lava persists, approaches ocean
Update Tue 19 Jun 19:14
Lava flows typical of the past 2 weeks, on June 12, 2012.
Coastal lava at dawn on June 19, 2012, captured from USGS-HVO Mobile Cam 2.
Meanwhile the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u remains at a high level, causing loud cracking and booming sounds sometimes audible from the Jaggar Overlook! At night, glow from this newest crater on the volcano is brighter than ever before in this eruption phase! This is due to continued high pressure on the volcano, also manifesting with an increased rate of extension visible in the summit GPS line over the past 3 weeks. All in all, a great time to visit Kīlauea!
Lava flows march across coastal plain
Update Fri 08 Jun 19:24
Meanwhile, pressure is still high across other parts of the volcano, with small lava flows and a lava pond increasingly present within Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater (not directly accessible, but glow can be seen from a distance with clear weather), and the summit lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u still at high levels and producing strong glow visible from the Jaggar Overlook after dark. Within this newest crater but still out of sight, there have been spillovers of the lava lake as it continues to overtop its previous high-level banks!
There have been many earthquakes on the south flank of the volcano, seeming to indicate continuing movement and adjustment of this huge landmass in response to this increased pressure -- first manifested as a slow-slip event last week! Things have not yet settled, so stay tuned for our next weekly report or sooner if something major changes!
Big pressure surge returns lava to coastal plain
Update Thu 31 May 22:30
An ‘ā‘ā lava channel descends the pali onto the coastal plain on this USGS-HVO Mobile Cam 2 screen capture on the morning of May 31, 2012.
Lava has also repressurized the tube system from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō towards the coast, with initial on-the-ground reports of a huge new flow branch around the 425m/1400ft elevation above the pali, perhaps 1km/0.5mi closer to Kalapana. Lava also appears to be vigorously reoccupying the recent lava tubes, breaching them in many places above and on the pali. HVO's "Mobile 2" webcam this morning showed a long open lava channel descending the pali onto the coastal plain in a similar location to recent flows, below where Jack's Lava House used to stand, and other reports have hinted that the previous eastern flow branch on the lower pali has reactivated as well.
The essence: too much lava to fit underground, and leaking out wherever possible! Lava viewing outlook is fantastic for the next few days, with the new flow-front accessible by the now-typical 11km/7mi round-trip hike across the coastal plain, but also a good chance of activity which can be seen from a distance from either the County viewing area in Kalapana or the end of the Chain of Craters Rd in the National Park.
Related to the pressure surge, Kīlauea's south flank has also reactivated by means of a "slow earthquake" or "slow slip event", accompanied by many smaller earthquakes south of the summit (with 4 earthquakes greater than magnitude 3 in the past 2 days). The most recent similar event on February 1, 2010 recorded 3cm/1.2in of surface seaward movement within 2 days -- nearly half of a typical yearly total of 7cm/2.8in!
HVO's Tuesday report hints that this movement preceded the onset of inflation, but it's still unclear from public data to what degree it was a consequence of a long deflation or a precursor to this relatively big inflation. In either case, the volcano can be very dynamic as the south flank continues to adjust, and we still await its stabilization and a return to the recent equilibrium. Stay tuned for continuing updates, or come join us to see these changes in person!
HVO Kilauea update
HVO Volcano Watch on "slow earthquakes" from 2010
HVO Mobile Cam 2
Kalapana Cultural Tours
Coastal flows pause, pressure retreats to rift zone
Update Sun 27 May 22:55After a week-long deflation on Kīlauea, lava flows which had reached within 0.5mi/750m of the ocean finally felt the pressure relief and came to a pause. At the time of this writing there is still low pressure on the volcano, and the longer this continues the more likely that the plumbing system will be disrupted and that lava will re-emerge in a new location -- whether on a new point up the lava tube, or even all the way back to Pu`u `O`o crater on the east rift zone. Magma continues to come into the volcano, as evidenced by continued extension, and without an outlet, sooner or later something will have to give! While there is no red lava visible on the coast today, there is still bright glow from the newest summit vent in the National Park. This is a crucial period of change for the volcano, and we all await what will happen next!
Lava parallels ocean, new flow branch on pali
Update Fri 18 May 05:25
Lava flows on May 16, 2012, with new eastern flow branch visible descending pali in background.
Lava surges with increased pressure
Update Wed 09 May 00:01
Sunset light on the lava flows on May 6, 2012.
Geologist & lava guide Jake admires the flow-front on May 6, 2012.
Lava activity on the coastal plain will decrease again about 24 hours after the next deflation event, which could start at any time if the current pattern holds. These cycles have had a period of 5-7 days in recent weeks, keeping lava flows active and accessible on the coastal plain, but varying their intensity from day to day.
Meanwhile, the summit GPS line is showing contraction over the past week, against the pervasive trend of the past two years. Previous contractions have related to sudden new phases of flank eruption such as at Kamoamoa in March 2011, or to more gradual movement of the volcano's southern flank in what is called a "slow earthquake", which can accomodate on the order of 1 meter of surface seaward movement within a 24 hour period! Such a signal could also indicate a decrease in magma supply, however other publicly available indicators don't seem to agree with this, and we will continue to monitor the situation via the HVO website and our multi-data display!
Exciting times continue on Kīlauea, come join us!
Lava flows continue at slow pace
Update Sat 05 May 23:28
USGS-HVO composite image with FLIR from April 26, 2012.
Lava reenters the National Park for the first time in 2012
Update Wed 25 Apr 19:33
Lava in the National Park on Apr 23, 2012. (Image USGS-HVO, hvo.wr.usgs.gov)
While the lava location is now legally accessible to everyone through the National Park, we highly encourage hikers to be well prepared for that extreme hike with no marked trail, shelter or water across the barren lava landscape -- this route is not for everyone!
Furthermore, being downwind of the heat and gas coming off the flow can accelerate dehydration and cause respiratory distress for susceptible people, and if an ocean entry becomes established there within the next several days, then visitors must also take into account the many additional hazards such as the plume of acid gas (hydrochloric and sulfuric acids), explosions from ocean-lava interaction, and collapses of the shoreline from the weight of the flowing rock! If this sounds like too much to deal with on your own, consider hiring an experienced private guide! We take care of all the safety details and can provide access via the shorter and safer route, customized to eruption conditions during your actual visit. Stay tuned for our expected reports of a new ocean entry within the next week(s)!
References: HVO Kilauea Update
HVO Image Archive
High lava levels, flows advance on coast
Update Wed 18 Apr 06:29
HVO's IR of Kilauea's coastal plain on April 13, 2012.
Meanwhile, lava flows on the coast persist and are less than 1.4km / 0.9mi from reaching the ocean, but don't seem to be in a hurry to get there. The flows are still quite active, but spreading out across the plain rather than focusing in one direction. They are still accessible and the hike (with proper access across private land) is getting shorter! At some point soon, there may be the chance to safely see an ocean entry, that is if nothing else changes in the meantime... stay tuned!
PS. Check out our new webcam compilation page, featuring near-real-time data streams from the USGS-HVO for Kilauea, and similar streams from other volcanoes worldwide!
Lava flows & DI cycles continue
Update Fri 06 Apr 05:14Lava flows on Kīlauea's coastal plain continue to slowly advance obliquely towards the ocean, still an estimated 1.6 km / 1 mi away. Lava hikes across private land in Kalapana are still about 5 km / 3 mi each way, with activity also visible from a distance either from the Public Viewing Area in Kalapana or from the end of the Chain of Craters Rd within the National Park.
Meanwhile, Kīlauea continues to be active at its summit, with a persistent lava lake between 70-90 m / 230-300 ft below the lowest visible crater floor, and while not directly visible from the closest legal viewpoint (Jaggar Overlook) does produce a spectacular glow between sunset and sunrise.
Also, lava flows and glow are occasionally visible within Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater, though given the plentiful other activity on the volcano today, very few people choose to include this third option as well!
Check out our March lava video playlist just posted on our YouTube channel!
Lava still active on coastal plain
Update Sun 01 Apr 01:41
Lava flows on March 27, 2012
Lava flows active in decreased pressure
Update Tue 20 Mar 18:06
USGS-HVO Tilt on March 20, 2012.
Pressure reaches lava flow-front
Update Sat 17 Mar 19:24
Lava flows just after sunset on March 16, 2012.
Lava flows still slowly advancing
Update Fri 16 Mar 21:13
Inflating lava flow & small breakout on March 15, 2012.
Lava pressure returning
Update Tue 13 Mar 21:14
We've received questions about the truncated summit signal, which has not posted this renewed inflation -- typically this indicates an instrument or data transmission malfunction. It's been windier than normal on Kīlauea over the past few days, so perhaps something blew out of alignment -- regardless, surely the USGS-HVO will restore the signal as quickly as possible. Aloha e a hui hou!
Lava advances towards the ocean
Update Mon 12 Mar 23:15
Tilt image from USGS-HVO on March 12, 2012.(hvo.wr.usgs.gov)
According to University of Hawai‘i - Hilo scientists, this flow front yesterday traveled to within 1.4mi/2km of the ocean, which means it has advanced 0.6mi/1km from the base of the pali over the past 6 days. However, our current DI event is likely to slow the advance of this flow-front -- and if it lasts long enough, could eventually stall it and force the creation of a new lava tube somewhere farther up the system, typically above the pali. It's too soon to guess what major change will come next, so as usual we'll wait and see what happens in the next few days, and in the meantime we still enjoy accessible lava on the coastal plain and fantastic views of summit & rift zone glow!
For those of you considering visiting or returning to Hawai‘i to see the advance of lava towards the ocean, this temporary slow-down may be good news, as you have a little more time to make your travel plans! Aloha, and we hope to see you again soon!
Lava reaches plain again, eruption viewing update
Update Fri 09 Mar 23:42
Kīlauea's summit glow on March 7, 2012.
Lava flows on the pali and Kīlauea's coastal plain on March 8, 2012.
Lava at sunset.
Meanwhile, the lava lake within Halema‘uma`u crater at Kīlauea's summit continues to produce a bright orange glow which is visible from the caldera rim. The summit, generally inflating, is experiencing a series of small Deflation-Inflation events this week -- if these were a bigger amplitude, there would be a better chance they could disrupt the advance of the lava flows towards the coast as in the past, but for now these pressure changes are restricted to the summit region. Check out our photos of summit glow from 2 nights ago!
Finally, there is also glow visible from Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater on the east rift zone, either from a larger distance at Pu‘u Huluhulu or from a shorter distance at Napau crater with a much longer hike! Small spots of red (distant lava flows on the hillside) are visible from the Public Viewing Area in Kalapana as well as the end of the Chain of Craters Rd within the National Park. Lots to see on Kīlauea today, come and join us!
Lava reaches plain, Jack's Lava House destroyed
Update Sun 04 Mar 01:00
The flows at the front of this eastern branch were rather sluggish, and it appeared that much of the lava was being diverted to a western branch which is also poised to come down the pali. The hike to this activity is now about 3.5mi/6km each way from access crossing private property in Kalapana, or about 2 hours each way.
On a sad note, Jack's Lava House finally burned down last night as a result of the much broader and more active western lava flow branch. Three helicopters evacuated the house around 6pm, as documented by Leigh Hilbert who was with him (see link to his photos below).
Jack's house was among the first threatened by lava flows fed from Pu`u `O`o's high fountains in 1983 -- in fact those first big `a`a flows seem to have acted as a diversion barrier for the last 29 years, pushing subsequent flows to either side and preserving Jack's kipuka, that is until last night. His was the last occupied house in Royal Gardens, which can now be said to be completely destroyed (one abandoned structure remains). Our thoughts are with Jack today, a day which he knew was inevitable.
Our time-lapse video of lava on March 2, 2012
Leigh Hilbert's account of Jack Thompson's evacuation
Kīlauea volcano (Hawai`i): lava flows descending onto coastal plain
Update Thu 01 Mar 01:34
Image USGS-HVO (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov). A visible/thermal overlay of the active lava flow front moving through Royal Gardens subdivision on February 24, 2012.
The flow-front is just about ready to come down the steepest part of the hillside, or "pali", and should make for spectacular views in the next few days, if the rainy island weather lets up! Private Tours with our LAVA PRIORITY are available again to see this activity, but still require an 8mi/13km round-trip hike over the uneven, barren ground of the volcano's recent lava flows and is thus rated "challenging". We will post pictures of these new flows in the next few days, which we expect will look something like our video & time-lapse footage from December 4, 2011!
Meanwhile, the lava lake at Kīlauea's summit within Halema`uma`u continues to produce a bright orange glow which is easily visible on most nights from within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, and included in most of our tours! See this spectacular time-lapse movie of the summit glow produced by one of our tour clients!
HVO Image Update
Daily Kilauea Status text update