Lava front stalls, breakouts widen to the north
Update Thu 25 Sep 05:26
In the past few days, the front of the lava flow heading towards Pahoa has stalled its forward progress. There is still lava activity at a decreased level, but this is only widening the lava field instead of advancing further.
NASA satellite image of the flow area provided by USGS-HVO, showing "hot" areas widening the lava flow field on September 22, 2014.
USGS-HVO tilt plot on September 24, 2014 showing decrease in summit tilt during the same period as decrease in surface activity, but a puzzling lack of decrease in tilt at Pu'u 'O'o cone.
There is an interesting, perhaps coincidental correlation between the drop in surface activity and a decrease in summit tilt (presumably tied to pressure). Unusually, there is no corresponding decrease on Pu'u 'O'o's tilt signal, and the public is not in a position to decipher whether this is due to an unusual eruption geometry in relation to the instrument position, or whether there is no real correlation. If surface activity increases within a day or two of the next summit tilt increase, that would suggest some correlation, but for now certainly Pahoa and its infrastructure have been granted a little extra time.
Lava flow narrows, quickens towards Pahoa
Update Fri 19 Sep 10:22
Official releases from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory over the past 48 hours indicate the lava flow is now advancing at a rate of 290m (960 ft) per day and has narrowed once again, after spreading out and slowing down for several days.
Latest USGS-HVO flow map.
Latest USGS-HVO image of advancing front below Kaohe Homesteads on September 17, 2014.
Flow projection on satellite overlay from USGS-HVO.
Accordingly, estimates of first impact have been revised, for Apa`a Rd around September 26 and for Pāhoa Village Road around September 30, but these are educated guesses and likely subject to further revisions. The main highway will likely be affected within 1-2 days of the main village road.
Work continues on alternate bypasses at a steady pace, with most residents of previously quiet neighborhoods graciously accepting the need to sacrifice their isolation to these new routes for the greater good. Locals are beginning to absorb the future impact of this lava flow on the island and making longer-term plans, describing "a disaster in slow-motion" which may produce refugees for the first time in modern Hawai`i.
Lava flow continues slow advance past closest homes
Update Wed 17 Sep 19:54
Pu'u 'O'o's "June 27th flow" continues to advance at a rate around 215m (705ft) per day through vacant forest, but has crossed the Forest Reserve boundary as it continues to skirt downhill of the nearest homes.
Latest HVO image of advancing front near Kaohe Homesteads, September 15, 2014.
Latest lava flow map.
Yesterday the flow front was 3.3 km (2.1 miles) upslope from Apa`a Road, which hosts the densest cluster of homes in the flow's likely path. HVO's latest estimate projects "that lava could flow from its current location to Apa`a Rd in 15 days and to the Pāhoa Village Road (government road) in Pāhoa within 20 days" based on current advancement rate.
Lava slows, misses first homes for now
Update Sat 13 Sep 08:37
HVO issued the 4th warning status update tonight:
Aerial photo by HVO of lava flow within 170m of Kaohe Homesteads.
Latest flow map and projection on September 12, 2014
Aerial photo looking downslope towards Pahoa (top center).
"Between September 10 and 12, the June 27th flow advanced north-northeastward at an average rate of 250 m/day (820 ft/day). By the afternoon of September 12, the flow had advanced approximately 14.9 km (9.3 miles) straight-line distance from the vent, or to within 170 m (560 ft) of the boundary between the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve and the northwest corner of Kaohe Homesteads. At the average rate of advancement of 250 m/day (820 ft/day) since September 10, we project that lava could flow from its current location into the northwest part of Kaohe Homesteads within a day, and to the Pāhoa Village Road (government road) in Pāhoa within 20 days" if there are no major changes.
HVO thermal image show areas of greatest activity on the lava flow.
As seen in the photograph and maps accompanying HVO's newest release, the lava flow is now at the same elevation as the corner of Kaohe Homesteads, missing it by 170 m (560 ft) and expected to move away downhill. These uphill homes seem to have been spared for now, but as the flow travels further downhill it's likely to come closer to other houses, with the district of Puna's biggest village and highway looming 3.1mi (5.0km) below. For now, it's a tempered bit of good news.
The slowing of the flow's advance has led to an adjustment in the official estimate for an impact on Pahoa village within 20 days. This could also be helpful, since the longer it takes, the bigger the chance the flow will be disrupted somehow. The June 27 flow hasn't shown an inclination to stop so far, if lava flows can be said to have personality... and it seems likely that the flow will speed up again within a few days in a natural cycle. Just as the village residents, we have no choice but to anxiously watch & wait.
How lava flow projections are refined
Update Fri 12 Sep 23:33HVO's latest update:
"The flow front [yesterday at 12:30pm] was 14.8 km (9.2 miles) from the vent, measured in a straight line, and 0.3 km (0.2 miles) from the Forest Reserve/Kaohe Homesteads boundary. The actual length of the flow, measured along the lava tube axis (so that bends in the flow are considered) is 16.9 km (10.5 miles). Between September 6 and 10, the flow front advanced at approximately 400 meters (460 yards) per day. Between September 10 and 11 the advance rate dropped slightly to approximately 300 meters (330 yards) per day. The flow front is still in thick forest, creating smoke plumes as it engulfs trees and other vegetation, but fires are not spreading away from the flow."
The lava flow's turn to the northeast this week surprised many online observers, but was not as big a surprise to the scientists at HVO. The blue lines on HVO's flow update maps indicate the steepest downhill direction calculated from a digital elevation model obtained previously by satellite, but the satellite can't see the ground beneath the trees. These smaller hidden variations play a significant part in determining a lava flow's path, and in order to address that HVO scientists run simulations which introduce random variations of about 6 ft (2m) to the DEM surface. Then they compile a probability map based on those simulations. This technique was proven successful during a recent eruption of Mt. Etna, and is now collaboratively being used in Hawai'i. In fact, HVO's simulations earlier this week showed the current flow path as a good possibility given those random variations, but those maps have not been published online, only presented at the public community meetings. The latest projections leave no doubt to the path of the flow about 3/4mi (1.2km) into Pahoa village from its northern boundary.
The flow's speed has only decreased slightly as well, reflecting the steeper topographic slope of the area and giving the flow a long and narrow geometry. At present the flow width is reportedly 200-300m, which could restrict the lateral damage caused by the lava, at least in the short term. Looking ahead, the longer a lava tube system remains active, the more likely it will produce flows laterally, but for now there's no reason to believe the lava flow won't remain narrow as it builds downhill momentum towards the ocean. Along the same lines, there's no indication that the lava flow will slow down anytime soon and scientists now project it will cross the northern half of Pahoa and the highway around September 24-26.
In this iterative manner, HVO will continue to update its projections -- first mapping the new flow boundaries, then running new simulations based on that data. This is currently happening more or less every 2 days, and we will continue to report on any changes.
Pahoa prepares for lava flow
Update Fri 12 Sep 22:48
At the public meeting held at Pahoa High & Intermediate School last night, officials presented the latest lava flow maps and projections following the flow's unexpected turn towards Pahoa town two days ago. HVO scientists reported that the steep slope has allowed to flow to continue moving quickly and that the new path puts it directly through the town of Pahoa in the range of 13-15 days.
Residents crowd the public lava flow meeting in Pahoa on September 11, 2014.
Residents were offered the latest science, logistics concerning evacuation and possible disruption of services, and a prayer reminding that people's greatest resource is each other. Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi drew the loudest applause when announcing that construction has already started on two alternate access roads into the area, but the mayor reminded residents that once the flow crosses the first highway it will continue downhill and eventually cut off these other, under construction routes as well. The mayor then announced plans to repave the Chain of Craters Road from within the National Park to Kalapana despite the great expense and lack of county funds, with the hope that assistance will come from the state or federal level. The county is going as far as scrapping construction on a children's playground in Pahoa in order to relocate those contracted workers to road construction.
The mayor also stated that lessons learned from Tropical Storm Iselle will be put to use, prioritizing uninterrupted power service, telecommunication and road access as the key components for all other concerns, including health care, postal service and bus service. The county is establishing a crisis center at the Pahoa Community Center within 72 hours and discontinuing public meetings, although an information fair is being held tomorrow to connect residents to service providers including banks, insurance, police, fire, water, power, moving & storage, health care, legal advice and transportation.
Mayor Kenoi, speaking in the local Pidgin and making jokes with residents to lighten the mood, said "If it was my home I'd be like you guys, I'm from Kalapana, I've seen it, you don't want to move until it's in your yard. But your house should be packed." Kalapana is the Hawaiian village 12 mi (19 km) south of Pahoa which lost 180 homes by 1990 to lava from the same vent, Pu'u 'O'o, and another 34 homes (many abandoned by then) between 2008-2011.
Lava flows turns, threat increases for Pahoa
Update Fri 12 Sep 03:32HVO's latest warning status update issued yesterday:
"Between September 6 and 10, the June 27th flow advanced north then northeastward at an average rate of 400 m/d (0.25 mi/d). In this way, the flow had advanced approximately 14.5 km (9.0 miles straight-line distance) from the vent, or to within 0.6 km (0.4 miles) of the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, by the afternoon of September 10. At the average rate of advancement of 400 m/day (0.25 mi/day) since September 6, we project that lava could flow from its current location to the northwest edge of Kaohe Homesteads in 1.5 days and to the Pāhoa Village road (government road) in Pāhoa within 14-16 days if lava is not further confined within the cracks and down-dropped blocks within the East Rift Zone of Kīlauea volcano. These estimates will be continually refined as we track this lava flow."
Further statements made to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald by HVO today:
"Given the current trajectory of the flow as of today, the downhill path would put it more in the center of Pahoa. Where the lava flow goes tomorrow could change things.”
An evacuation announcement for Kaohe Homesteads is expected in the next few hours.
The main highway to Pahoa is not only a vehicle access, but also a backbone for electrical & water transmission, and concerns are mounting that these services will be disrupted for the many thousands of residents who would be cut off by the lava flow. Businesses are worried about big losses and local schools and government are making contingency plans should the community be divided. Emergency repairs to wells and road construction to create alternate access are also under discussion. This area was the hardest hit during Tropical Storm Iselle just one month ago, and many residents are still on edge. We will report again after the public information meeting to be held tonight.
Updated flow map from September 10, 2014.
HVO warning update
Update Tue 09 Sep 05:09HVO released this statement as part of their warning status update today, based on the fast flow rate of the past 2 days and the soonest possible impact:
"Between September 6 and 8, the flow advanced northward at a rate of 400 m/d (1,300 ft/d). In this way, the flow had advanced approximately 13.7 km (8.5 miles straight-line distance) from the vent, or to within 1.2 km (0.7 miles) of the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, by the afternoon of September 8. At the average rate of advancement of 400 m/day (1,300 ft/day) since September 6, we project that lava could flow from its current location either through the north part of Kaohe Homesteads, or to the north of Kaohe Homesteads, and reach the government road in Pāhoa within 16-18 days if lava is not further confined within the cracks and down-dropped blocks within the East Rift Zone of Kīlauea volcano. These estimates will be continually refined as we track this lava flow."
For full statement see hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php
Lava threat to homes lessens, for now
Update Tue 09 Sep 04:17
The latest updates from authorities show no significant change in the path of the lava flow, only advancement through the jungle away from houses, for now.
September 8, 2014 eruption map by USGS-HVO.
The flow has advanced relatively quickly covering roughly 1/2 mile (3/4 km) in the past 2 days, but typically that rate is hard to sustain for long. Between the six days of Aug 6-12, the map shows the flow made about 1 mi forward progress, but during the next six days the flow advanced only half that distance, totaling 1.5 mi (2 km) in 12 days.
If the flow follows the easiest downhill path (marked by the blue line crossing the red flow tip on the map), it has more or less 4.5 mi (6 km) to cover until it would reach Highway 130, fortunately with no houses on the way. If it follows a similar rate of advance as Aug 6-18, we can expect that will take about 1 month to threaten the closest infrastructure, or by early to middle of October.
The big "if" remains that nothing changes with the lava pipeline upstream. The presence of big ground cracks in the area would seem to make such changes more likely and there's a chance this flow never reaches the highway, but we remain vigilant and respectful of the volcano's power.
Lava advances parallel to farms
Update Sat 06 Sep 05:54
Lava flows continue to advance downhill through the jungle on a path that will miss Kaohe Homesteads, having first entered and overtopped several large ground cracks on Kilauea volcano's east rift zone. The farthest lava front is now 13.3 km (8.3 miles) from the vent and 1.2 km (0.7 miles) from the east boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, and moving northeast parallel to the boundary.
Most recent flow map; blue lines are predicted flow directions from topography.
The latest map issued shows 3 large flows moving away from the cracks, whose path will take them downhill parallel to the Forest Reserve boundary and the threatened community of Kaohe Homesteads. Issued maps for the first time have blue lines indicating probably flow direction based on topography, showing that without any major changes the current flow will advance around Kaohe and if it continues long enough, cross the highway just north of Pahoa.
The question still remains whether these spill-overs can take the whole volume of lava erupted by the volcano, or whether lava finds its way into other large cracks which can funnel it closer to the inhabited zone. After that, the major question is how long the pipeline feeding the flow can remain stable. Will it be just one more month like the Kahaualea 1 flow ending in April 2013, or a full year like the Kahaualea 2 flow which ended in June 2014? For now, the closest communities are still safe but the highway appears under threat and there are other communities beyond.
Within the last 24 hours, the Volcano Observatory has upgraded Kilauea's status from a watch to a warning, Civil Defense has closed the threatened neighborhood to non-residents, the Mayor has declared a state of emergency, and most recently the Governor has issued an emergency proclamation, setting the stage for possible evacuations and construction of an alternate route into the district should the highway be cut off by lava. The warnings indicate that authorities believe lava may enter the community within 5 to 7 days, but that will be a conservative guess and for now the lava flow continues to flow parallel, but away from the community through undeveloped land.
There has been media coverage over the lava diversion debate: can and should the authorities divert the lava flow? In today's world of liability, it'll never happen. But if you're a resident downhill from the lava, you might be inclined to ask anyways... and you would be reprimanded by other locals who see the lava as an extension of the goddess Pele. Perhaps the real story there is that Hawaiian culture is alive and well!
We continue to keep our thoughts with the 30-40 residences under threat as we report on further developments.
Lava advances within 1km of farms
Update Thu 04 Sep 03:50
According to officials, the June 27th lava flow has reemerged for the second time from a huge ground crack along Kilauea's east rift zone, this time approximately 13.2 km (8.2 miles) from the vent and 1.3 km (0.8 miles) from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, but still continues moving through the ground crack to within 1.1 km (0.7 miles) from the boundary.
Updated lava flow map from evening of September 3, 2014.
USGS-HVO photo of lava flowing back into a large crack near Kaohe Homesteads on September 1, 2014.
The inhabited area under immediate threat, Kaohe Homesteads, consists mainly of farms who are already relocating cows, horses, goats & sheep due to increased emissions and smoke from burning forest. The Civil Defense plans to issue an evacuation notice 5 days before lava is expected to hit the community, but with natural variability there will be some guesswork involved. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory may increase the alert level from a "watch" to "warning" status within the next day or so, which will trigger Civil Defense to close the area to all non-residents. Looking ahead, the main highway into the lower Puna district and the outskirts of Pahoa town could be under threat next, and authorities are considering alternate access routes should this develop.
Will lava advance through Kaohe and/or Pahoa? In the short term, probably not. Once the lava establishes a good downhill path out of the cracks, it will advance to the northeast because of the slope, and if it can establish that path from the current spillover point it will miss Kaohe. However, in the longer term (however long Pu`u `O`o continues to feed lava in this direction, which could be weeks to years), the big cracks will continue to funnel lava closer to Kaohe and Pahoa and likely create multiple spillover points. The longer the eruption continues without a plumbing change, the more likely lava will fill in a significant area. The past 2 plumbing changes lasted 3 months and 13 months (Kahauale'a 1 & 2 flows), while the last plumbing change 2 months ago initiated the June 27th flow.
We will issue updates as frequently as necessary, reporting directly from Kilauea on the developing situation with specialized coverage.
Lava flow only 2 km from inhabited area
Update Tue 02 Sep 08:01
The June 27 lava flow remains active and is now only approx. 2 km from the nearest inhabited area. Its farthest front had been spreading in the forest over the past few days and was seen to be spilling into yet another ground crack about 12.6 km (~7.8 miles) from the vent and about 1.9 km (~1.2 miles) from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve.
Map of the recent lava flows on Kilauea (HVO)
The June 27 lava flow seen from the east from helicopter (HVO)
Activity at 'June 27' flow front appears to stall - surface flows remain active behind flow front
Update Thu 28 Aug 20:13
The June 27th flow remains active, but surface flows at the very farthest reaches of the flow appear to have stalled today. The lava flow front consisted of an isolated pad of lava that emerged from a deep ground crack several days ago. Today, this pad of lava appeared inactive at the surface, with no sign obvious activity in the adjacent crack.
A comparison of the normal photograph (see above) of the south lobe of the June 27th flow with an equivalent view from the thermal camera. The thermal camera clearly shows the extent of the farthest active breakout, which was relatively small.
On today's overflight, the farthest active surface flows were on the main body of the June 27th flow, and were 8.5km (5.3mi) from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, or about 6km (3.7mi) from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna forest reserve.
Lava resurfaces along crack, continues advancing through thick forest
Update Wed 27 Aug 17:10
The lava flow branch that entered and followed a deep ground crack on Kīlauea's East Rift Zone last week has resurfaced and is now forming a small lava island inside the forest. Its farthest point is 11.4 km (7.1 miles) from the the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and 3.1 km (1.9 miles) from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna forest reserve.
View of the pad of lava with the equivalent view from a thermal camera. (HVO)
Map of the lava flows from Kilauea (25 Aug, HVO)
June 27 flow continues to advance NE of Puʻu ʻŌʻō
Update Fri 15 Aug 20:06
A skylight reveals the fluid lava stream within the main tube on the June 27 lava flow. The recently active perched lava pond is in the upper left portion of the photograph.
The June 27 flow remains active on Kilaueas East Rift Zone, and has advanced further into the forest over the past week. The flow front is 8.5km (5.3mi) NE of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. The flow's continued brisk advance rate is likely related, in part, to its continued confinement by local topography. In this USGS photo, the narrow flow front was within one of the many linear depressions (grabens) on the East Rift Zone.
Portions of the June 27 lava flow continue to expand and cover older flows from Puʻu ʻŌʻō.
New map showing current 'June 27' flow progress on the East Rift Zone of Kilauea
Update Mon 04 Aug 22:10
This map (USGS) shows the June 27th flow at Puʻu ʻŌʻō in Kilauea’s East Rift Zone. The area of the flow as mapped on July 18 is shown in pink, while widening of the flow as of July 29 is shown in red.
These flows continue to progress slowly in a NE direction roughly 5km (3mi)from Puʻu ʻŌʻō, mostly on top of older flow fronts. There was no significant change in ground tilt at Puʻu ʻŌʻō over the past few days, and two small lava ponds remained active on the south side of Puʻu ʻŌʻō's crater.
The most recent sulfur-dioxide emission-rate measurement was 600 tonnes per day (from all East Rift Zone sources) on July 31, 2014.
'June 27' flow advances on Kilaueas East Rift Zone
Update Wed 30 Jul 21:29
The June 27 flow front has advanced more rapidly over the past four days, and is now 4.2km (2.6mi) from the vent (Seen in first photo below). This recent increased advance rate is due to the confinement of the flow against the slopes of an older perched lava channel, from 2007. The advance rate will likely drop in the coming days as the flow passes the confines of the perched channel and spreads out on flatter topography.
Left: Another view of the front of the June 27 flow, looking northeast. The flow front has narrowed as it has been confined against the slopes of the 2007 perched lava channel, and this is associated with a higher advance rate of the flow front over the past four days. Right: View, looking southwest, of Puʻu ʻŌʻō and the new perched lava pond. Puʻu ʻŌʻō is the fume-filled crater in the top half of the image. The circular feature in the lower portion of the photograph is the perched lava pond active earlier this month, which was fed by the June 27 lava flow. This perched lava pond is now inactive, but the June 27 flows continue to advance towards the northeast.
A time-lapse camera on the rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater captured this image at dawn. The view is towards the southeast, and shows two glowing pits in the southern portion of the crater floor.
Rockfall trigger explosive eruption of lava lake on 23 July
A piece of the crater walls of the Halema'uma'u lava lake collapsed on 23 July and triggered a small explosive eruption. Liquid spatter was ejected to the outer perimeter of the pit crater (including webcam position and the closed observation area) and an ash plume was generated.
Explosive eruption at Halema'uma'u lava lake on 23 July
Strong bubbling in the lava lake following the explosion
The reason for the event was a sudden disturbance of the gas influx and release equilibrium of the lava lake induced by the rockfall, triggering a spontaneous and very strong degassing phase.
Kilauea Eruption Update - Week of July 21st, 2014
Update Mon 21 Jul 20:42
Kīlauea continued to erupt at its summit and within the East Rift Zone, and gas emissions in both areas remained elevated. There was no significant change in tilt recorded at the summit, and the lava lake level was relatively steady over the past week leveling at ~30m (98ft).
Perhaps the most interesting feature in the new crater at Puʻu ʻŌʻō is the pit formed on the southern side of the crater floor. There, a small lava pond roughly 10 m (~30 ft) across has been sporadically overflowing and sending lava toward the deeper central part of the crater. View is to the south.
Since the onset of the "June 27 breakout" flow, the central part of Puʻu ʻŌʻō's crater has been collapsing slowly. Thick fume and steam prevented good views, but this photo shows the edge of the ring fracture that bounds the collapse. The heavy fume comes from pits that formed where spatter cones used to be.
At the middle East Rift Zone, lava flows continued to erupt from the northeast flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone, spreading to the northeast. The June 27th breakout continued to spread toward the northeast in two main lobes, reaching about 2km (1.2m) from the vent on the northeast flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Small lava ponds were present within the two southeastern pits in the crater floor, and glow above the other two pits indicated lava was at least close to the surface there as well.
The most recent sulfur-dioxide emission-rate measurement was 500 tonnes per day (from all East Rift Zone sources) on July 3, 2014; emission rates have typically ranged between 150 and 450 t/d since July 2012.
Kilauea Eruption Update - Week of July 14th, 2014
Update Mon 14 Jul 21:32
The summit of Kilauea began to slowly inflate over the past 48 hrs, and the lava lake within Halemaumau crater rose slightly, its level fluctuating in response to changes in spattering. The lava lake remains around 45m (147ft) below the crater rim. Seismic tremor was low but rose and fell over hours-long periods in response to variations in the intensity of spattering on the lava lake surface.
Electronic tilt on Kilauea from July 8th to July 14th. Note that signal was almost certainly influenced by heavy rainfall on July 13th.
At the middle East Rift Zone, lava flows continued to erupt from the northeast flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone, spreading to the north. These new flows, which began June 27th, are stalled out in a flat area but are slowly making progress downhill and towards the ocean. Gas emissions remained elevated all along the East Rift Zone.
A new lava shield is being built on Puʻu ʻŌʻō
Update Wed 09 Jul 22:12
The June 27 breakout has remained active over the past week, emitting short lava flows from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō's northeast flank. These flows have stacked upon one another creating a lava shield, which now hosts a lava pond.
This before and after comparison from the USGS webcam east of Puʻu ʻŌʻō shows the dramatic change to the skyline that this new lava shield has created.
Kilauea Eruption Update - Week of July 7th, 2014
Update Mon 07 Jul 22:46
This comparison of the normal photograph with a thermal image shows the extent of the lava shield clearly. The lava shield is visible as the area of high temperatures (hot colors) in the thermal image. Corresponding spots are marked with small arrows for reference.
Another look at the lava shield formed from lava erupting from the June 27 vent. The shield consists of a broad, and relatively flat, top with multiple narrow streams of lava flowing down the sides.
Electronic tilt data for the last week.
Elevated eruption activity continues on the East Rift Zone of Kilauea - a low shield, topped by a perched lava pond, is growing over the active breakout point of the June 27 breakout, on the northeast flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Overflows from the lava pond are spreading mostly toward the north and northeast, but are too short-lived to advance much beyond the shield's base. Sulfur-dioxide emission-rates have been elevated since this June 27th flow.
Photo of summit eruption at Halemaumau, taken July 6th 2014.
At this summit of Kilauea, the eruption within Halemaumau crater continues and the summit lava lake has stabilized at ~34m (110ft). This large lava lake, now 160m (520ft) by 210m (690ft) wide, continues to produce intense glow at both sunset and sunrise in turn making for some excellent photo opportunities!
Seismic tremor levels have been low however, with an average of 15 to 20 earthquakes per week.
Continuing lava flows from new vents at Pu'u 'O'o
Update Tue 01 Jul 16:31
The new June 27 lava flows continue to be very active, at expense of the previously active Kahaualeʻa 2 flow which seems to have stopped being active.
The new lava flow NE of Pu'u 'O'o seen from the North Rim webcam (HVO) today
The lava flows expanded in area and extended approx.1.6 km (1 mi) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone yesterday, HVO reports. It is believed that only the lowest-elevation fissure on the NE flank continued to erupt lava on Saturday.
New lava flows from new vent at Pu'u 'O'o crater's north flank
Update Sun 29 Jun 09:45
The new lava flow seen yesterday (USGS)
A new lava breakout occurred Friday early morning (local time) from a new vent on the outer northern flank of Pu'u 'O'o crater. It feeds a new lava flow with several branches headed to the north and northeast. The most advanced of the them traveled to the NW and had quickly reached a length of approx 1 km yesterday, but has not advanced much since. The event was marked by a sudden deflation of the cone, indicating that magma drained from underneath the Pu'u 'O'o crater terrace and moved to the new vent. This rapid drop in magma level under the crater terrace resulted in the collapse of several of the spatter cones. Until yesterday, these had been the site of frequent overflows and were feeding the Kahaual'a2 flow field. Overall, activity at the volcano has been relatively stable over the past months, with good magma supply to both the summit lava lake in Halema'uma'u and the Pu'u 'O'o vents on the eastern rift zone in 10 km distance. The new vent at Pu'u 'O'o is simply a change in the surface configuration of vents for Kilauea's continued magma supply.
Map of the lava flows at Kilauea (USGS)
Update Sun 29 Jun 10:11
The new lava flow seen from the HVO webcam on the east rim of Pu'u 'O'o
View of the Pu'u 'O'o crater during the morning-noon of 27 June: several of the spatter cones collapse as result of the magma under them draining to the new vent
Tilt at Pu'u 'O'o showing the rapid deflation associated with the draining of magma
The same view in the morning
Week of June 2nd, 2014
Update Mon 02 Jun 23:46
This past week we have seen Kilauea tiltmeter networks record slowing DI inflationary tilt (7 microradians since May 24, see photo) while the lava lake within Halemaumau crater continued to rise sporadically and was at an estimated 34-35 m (112-115 ft) this morning. Gas emissions continued to be elevated at the summit.
Over 100 earthquakes have been recorded over the past week around various areas of Kilauea! Along the east rift zone of Kilauea, glow was observed from the north, south, southeast and northeast spatter cones within Pu'u 'O'o crater. This suggests that activity is building at this location, which has been erupting consistently since January 1983.
With the lava lake at such a high point, right now is an excellent time to view the summit eruption. When the weather is right the bright orange glow produced by this lava lake within Halemaumau crater is the brightest we have seen yet! Stay tuned for more information as eruption conditions change here on Kilauea-
Week of May 19th, 2014
Update Tue 20 May 03:31After a week of many changes here on Kilauea, summit tilemeters recorded slowing inflationary tilt. The summit tiltmeters recorded the start of inflationary tilt at 6:30pm on Saturday May 17th - this suggests that the unusual deflationary tilt recorded since May 10 may have been a DI tilt event that totaled almost 8 microradians before the tilt switched.
Because of this deflationary tilt the lava lake dropped around 20m (65ft) is has stabilized at 58m (191ft) below the floor of Halema'uma'u crater. There were 3 days last week that over 100 earthquakes were recorded at the summit of Kilauea each day!
Along the East Rift Zone at Pu'u 'O'o minimal activity was recorded. Most of the flows on the crater floor stopped or slowed, however over the past 48 hours the activity to the Northeast and South of the cinder cone gained momentum.
Stay tuned for more updates as eruption activity develops here on Kilauea!
Week of May 12th, 2014
Update Mon 12 May 20:36Some big changes in eruption activity here on Kilauea over the past few days. In the past 24 hours alone, 65 earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea Volcano! Gas emissions continued to be elevated at the summit over the past week as well.
Perhaps the biggest change in eruption activity was that the summit tiltmeters recorded almost 4 microradians of (possibly DI) deflationary tilt. The lava-lake level dropped slightly but is still at a measured 51m (167ft) below the floor of Halema'uma'u crater.
On the east rift zone at Pu'u 'O'o cinder cone, the USGS recorded about -2.3 microradians of deflationary tilt over the past 2 days. Via webcams glow is persistent from the north, south, and northeast spatter cones on the Pu'u 'O'o crater floor. From our observations, it looks as though the lava that spilled over the edge of the cinder cone last week to the south is forming a channel and, possibly a lava tube in turn, pointing towards the ocean. We are excited about this new activity on the east rift zone, which may allow us to safely and legally access surface flows once again here on Kilauea!
Week of May 5th, 2014
Update Tue 06 May 01:04
Eruption activity remains high on Kilauea, both at the summit and east rift zone. The lava lake within Halemaumau crater at the summit of Kilauea has fluctuated around an estimated 35m (115ft) below the crater floor. The glow produced at night from this lava lake is as bright as ever!
At Pu'u 'O'o cinder cone on the east rift zone, we have seen several new flows including some spilling over to the south. These flows got so close to the webcams that the USGS had to move some of them (seen in this photo). Flows also continue north east of Pu'u 'O'o although they seem to be weakening.
Earthquake activity and gas emissions continue to be elevated at the summit, as well as along the east rift zones. These are very exciting times for Kilaueas current eruption - stay tuned for the latest conditions!
Week of April 28th, 2014
Update Mon 28 Apr 22:30Kilauea continues to erupt in two locations, at the summit within Halemaumau crater and along the East Rift Zone at Pu'u 'O'o. Over the past week the lava lake at the summit has risen and fallen several times and is currently stabilized at 34m (112ft). Volcanic gases levels at the summit continue to be elevated.
Along the East Rift Zone, we have seen some new activity within Pu'u 'O'o cinder cone - The lava flow that began late on April 22 on the floor of Pu'u 'O'o crater slowly continued to drain. The flow on the upper north flank continued to be active as well as to the southeast of the cone suggesting another overflow of lava from the crater floor in that direction.
Update Tue 22 Apr 21:26
The lava lake at the summit of Kilauea rises to 33m (108ft) below the surface of the crater floor - only around 14m (46ft) before the lava lake becomes visible from the Jaggar Museum area! Thermal image courtesy of USGS.
Week of April 21st, 2014
Update Mon 21 Apr 23:39Here on Kilauea over the past week we have seen the lava lake at the summit rise and drop several times! This is due to the several DI tilt events that have occured. Gas emissions continued to be elevated at the summit as well. On the East Rift Zone, near Pu'u 'O'o we have seen no major changes - Spatter cones on the floor of Pu'u 'O'o crater displayed strong glow and the lava level of the circulating lava pond was elevated within the collapsed northeast spatter cone. USGS Webcams recorded continued activity from the small tube breakout that started Saturday morning and at the flow front.
Week of April 14th, 2014
Update Wed 16 Apr 21:31Kilauea summit tiltmeters record continued DI inflationary tilt (+3 microradians over the past 36 hrs) and the lava lake is now at an estimated 48m (157ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u crater. Gas emissions continued to be elevated at the summit eruption. The Pu`u `O`o eruption, on the East Rift Zone of Kilauea, continued to be sluggish with no significant changes.
Week of April 7th, 2014
Update Wed 09 Apr 21:39
Kilauea eruption continued at the summit and within the East Rift Zone with no major changes over the past week. At the summit, the lava-lake level remained at about 43m (141ft) below the floor of the crater. On the East Rift Zone the NE spatter-cone complex continued to feed the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow at Pu`u `O`o, which continues to burn forests in the area (see photo, USGS). The rainy weather has cleared on Kilauea, making for excellent sunset viewings of the summit eruption!
Week of March 31st, 2014
Update Mon 31 Mar 22:28No significant changes in Kilaueas eruption activity over the past week - although the lava lake rose slightly to about 46m (151ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u crater.
The northeast spatter cone complex continued to feed the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow, though this flow is still not legally or safely accessible. Smoke plumes from forest fires during the day and glowing spots at night confirm that the flow remains active on the East Rift Zone of Kilauea.
Week of March 24th, 2014
Update Tue 25 Mar 20:43No major changes in eruption activity on Kilauea over the past week - lava lake at summit remains 45 m (148 ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u crater. All surface flows on the east rift zone remain slow in progress, but continue to burn tree lines in the closed Kahauale`a reserve.
Week of March 17th, 2014
Update Mon 17 Mar 21:42Lava lake at Kilauea summit remains stable at a high point of 37m (124ft) and despite rainy and windy conditions over the weekend, the summit glow viewing is still clear and as bright as ever from the Jaggar Museum.
Update Fri 14 Mar 23:49
Spatter cones on the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater displayed persistent glow with an open lava pond within the collapsed northeast spatter cone!
Update Fri 14 Mar 01:28Kilauea summit lava-lake level stabilizes at 40m (131ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u crater - will the lava lake rise or fall next?
Update Wed 12 Mar 22:31Eighteen earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea Volcano in the past 24 hours - about average for the past couple weeks
Update Tue 11 Mar 21:50Kilauea summit tiltmeters recorded minor fluctuations and the lava-lake rose to a measured 40m (131ft)- 20m (65ft) more until visible from the summit!
Update Mon 10 Mar 22:36
The NE spatter cone complex continued to feed the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow 8km (5mi) NE of Pu`u `O`o, the farthest advance since January 2014!
Update Fri 07 Mar 19:50Nineteen earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea Volcano in the past 24 hours - just below average for one day!
Update Thu 06 Mar 23:28The summit tiltmeter at Kilauea recorded a switch to DI inflationary tilt and the summit lava-lake rose several meters last night!
Update Wed 05 Mar 22:35Kilauea summit tiltmeters recorded continuing DI deflationary tilt, 2 microradians in the past 24 hrs - a fairly large deflation!
Update Tue 04 Mar 21:47Kilauea summit tiltmeters recorded the start of another DI deflationary tilt at 3:30 am this morning - lava lake at summit drops 3m (6ft)
Update Mon 03 Mar 19:21Summit tiltmeters record weak inflationary tilt, the lava-lake level dropped slightly to around 39m (128ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u
Update Wed 26 Feb 21:58Last night a swarm of very deep earthquakes occurred in the area of Punalu`u on the SW flank of Kilauea in the Ka`u district of the Big Island!
Update Wed 26 Feb 00:07Seismic tremor levels were low w/ dropouts starting 12:30pm yesterday-32 earthquakes recorded earthquakes at Kilauea Volcano the past 24hrs
Update Mon 24 Feb 20:52The Kahauale`a 2 lava flow reached 7.8 km (4.8 mi) northeast of Pu`u `O`o by mid-January before stalling. Recent surface flows have been active as small scattered breakouts behind the flow front.
Update Mon 24 Feb 02:42The south spatter cone at Pu'u 'O'o erupted lava across the crater floor from about 6 pm yesterday and about 2 am this morning.
Update Thu 20 Feb 20:07Summit tiltmeters record inflationary tilt & the lava-lake level rises again to an estimated 35 m (115 ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u.
Update Wed 19 Feb 21:4243 earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea Volcano in the past 24 hours - 9 of them were on the south flank faults!
Update Tue 18 Feb 20:48
The tiltmeter at Pu`u `O`o recorded the start of DI deflation tilt at 9 pm yesterday - around 14.5 hours after the summit DI deflation tilt!
Update Mon 17 Feb 19:52The tiltmeters at the summit of Kilauea and at Pu`u `O`o cinder cone both recorded continued DI inflationary tilt over the past 24HRS!
Update Fri 14 Feb 20:32
Per HVO, Kilauea's summit lava lake continues to rise. Measured at 35m/115ft below the floor of Halema'uma'u. Pictured here, the lava spills slightly over inside the crater onto it's shelf earlier this morning.
Update Mon 10 Feb 21:44
32 earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea Volcano in the past 24 hours, including 21 scattered broadly beneath the summit caldera.
Update Sat 08 Feb 03:46
Per HVO, Kilauea's summit lava lake rose by 20m/66ft in the past week, just another 15m/49ft until it's visible from the Jaggar Overlook!
Halemaumau Thermal Image of Lava Lake on Feb 7, 2014
Small lava pond in Pu'u 'O'o crater
Update Sun 02 Feb 13:04
The eruption continues essentially unchanged. Since 2 days, the inflation-deflation cycle has turned to deflation and the Halema'uma'u lava-lake level dropped several meters.
View of the lava pond in the NE spatter cone of Pu'u 'O'o
At the middle east rift zone, the Pu`u `O`o vent continued to feed the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow which was active to the northeast.
Spatter cones on the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater displayed persistent glow with the northeast spatter cone hosting an active lava pond of about 15 m diameter.
Update Fri 24 Jan 04:32Lava levels are rising again in Kilauea's Overlook Crater - 10 m recovered from the 20 m drop in the last week, so far.
Update Fri 24 Jan 04:29Kilauea's summit stretched 1.5cm in the previous month then shrank 2cm over the past week! That's a lot of rock wiggling above the magma!
Update Mon 20 Jan 22:53Booming sounds from Kilauea summit this week, heat from high lava lake cracks the crater walls! Levels dropping again now in natural cycle.
Update Fri 17 Jan 22:22
So much rain fell on Kilauea's eastern slope on Jan 12-13, it registered on the Pu'u 'O'o tilt signal before sinking deeper underground.
Update Tue 07 Jan 01:51
Over past 31 yrs, lava has buried 48 sq mi of land, 214 structures, 9 mi of highway & vast tracts of native forest. -USGS-HVO
31 years of lava on this map
Update Tue 07 Jan 01:31It's Volcano Awareness Month in Hawai'i! 10 informational events island-wide by HVO over the next 30 days: hvo.wr.usgs.gov
Update Sat 04 Jan 01:17
Today (3 Jan) we celebrate the 31st anniversary of Kilaueas eruption!
Update Fri 03 Jan 17:24
No significant changes have occurred over the past weeks. The level of the lava lake at the summit fluctuated slightly and remained around 45 m (148 ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u crater.
The Halema'uma'u lava lake at Kilauea volcano today
At the middle east rift zone, the Pu`u `O`o vent continued to feed the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow, which was active as small scattered breakouts burning forest to the northeast. Gas emissions remained elevated. (USGS)
Update Thu 19 Dec 09:22
The lava lake in Halema'uma'u today:
Update Thu 19 Dec 08:50The following video shows the activity at Pu'u 'O'o in a time-lapse over the past 2 weeks; images from the USGS thermal webcam placed on the northern rim of Pu'u 'O'o. 3 active vents with occasional small lava overflows are visible:
Update Wed 18 Dec 23:45Activity at Kilauea volcano has not changed significantly lately. No lava is currently active at or near the ocean. The lava lake in Halema'uma'u at the summit continues to rise and fall with inflation / deflation patterns; the vents at Pu'u 'O'o cone on the eastern rift zone continued to feed the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow that was active as small scattered breakouts burning forest to the northeast. Gas emissions remained elevated. (Source: HVO / USGS)
Update Sat 30 Nov 10:11
Lava lake inside Halema'uma'u this morning
Eruptive activity has remained essentially unchanged over the past weeks. The summit lava lake in Halema'uma'u continues to rise and fall with the ongoing cycles of inflation and deflation. No lava flows currently reach the ocean as the Peace Day flow is probably no longer active. At the middle east rift zone, the Pu`u `O`o vent continued to feed the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow that was active as small scattered breakouts burning forest to the northeast.
Map of lava flows (27 Nov 2013, HVO/USGS)
Update Tue 24 Sep 19:31Lava effusion through the tube system of the Peace Day flow continues. Due to blocking of the former tube, new breakouts of surface flows are currently found and accessible on the upper pali in the Royal Gardens area at about 16000 ft elevation (about 3-4 hours one way hike).
Lava returns to Peace Day tube above Kalapana
Update Thu 19 Sep 02:20
Halema`uma`u glow at first sunset. (Photo: Erik Storm)
Aloha potential lava viewers, with an eruption & access update,
Halema`uma`u glow after dark. (Photo: Neil Brauer)
There are signs of life on the Peace Day lava tube downhill of Pu`u `O`o, with scouts reporting lava flows at the surface around the 1600 foot elevation within but near the top of the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision. This flow appears to be moving downhill and access will get closer & easier with coming days, but reportedly is already on private land belonging to one of the Kalapana ohana.
There are certainly safety, logistic & legal issues to work out given the need for new hiking routes and different hazards presented by a different volcanic terrain, but in this particular case it's not unreasonable to be hopeful that there will be a legal but more difficult access to lava flows in a matter of days instead of weeks. Similar flows in the past have taken days to weeks to make it to the flats where there is easier access. At any point, there's never any guarantee of a viewing on any particular day as the volcano is subject to change with little notice, and we must really consider it a blessing that lava flows have been accessible safely and relatively easily, and most remarkably, continuously for the previous year and a half.
Meanwhile elsewhere on the volcano, glow from Kīlauea's summit is as bright as ever, visible on recent clear nights by many residents through the forest in nearby Volcano Village. The best viewing point remains the Jaggar Museum within the National Park, and lava lake levels in the Overlook Vent in Halema`uma`u crater remain near record highs for this phase of the eruption, surely a sign of things yet to come at the volcano's summit. The lava itself is not directly visible from the overlook, at least not yet at the time of this writing... but the orange glow in the evening, and especially at sunset and sunrise, just gets better and better.
There are still lava flows active within the Kahauale`a Forest Reserve, burning a little of the forest but also flowing in the interior of the thickening flow field to the north of Pu`u `O`o. This area remains out of legal access based on the multiple hazards associated with that part of the volcano -- quickly moving lava flows, unstable ground, methane explosions, forest fires, volcanic gases & smoke not least among them -- but it can be viewed legally from the air, dependent on occasional rain in the area.
Reports are that there are some nice lava flows visible from the air in this area, but that perhaps there is not enough volume flowing there to account for the disruption of the Kalapana lava flows. Thus it's not surprising to hear of renewed activity along the Peace Day tube, the pipeline to recent lava flows near Kalapana, to account for some of the missing volume. The final piece to understanding what's happening with the volcano right now is observing a contraction of its summit in the GPS signal, which may account for the rest of missing volume of lava compared to what we have seen in recent months.
In any case, these are still glory days on Kīlauea, regardless of how close we can get on a day-to-day basis, as we get to witness and be a part of Pele's continual changes! I urge everyone to appreciate what you CAN see today and how special that is in the grand scheme of things. Good luck to all of us on our upcoming viewings!
Kalapana activity pauses; lava focus inland
Update Mon 09 Sep 03:25
Kalapana coastal plain during a pause on Sep 8, 2013.
The lava tube system uphill shows a few signs of recent flows only at its uppermost reaches.
A recent lava flow spat out by a spatter cone on Pu`u `O`o, showing lava there is still pressurized.
For most of 2013, lava flows have been active on the coastal plain west of Kalapana and entering the ocean in two places near the National Park boundary, providing great opportunities for visitors to Kīlauea volcano. However, in the past few weeks this activity has gradually diminished, with first one then the other ocean entry coming to a halt, and just within the last day all lava activity on the coastal plain of the volcano has come to a pause. In the past, these pauses have lasted from several days to several months, and occasionally signal a bigger change in the character of the volcano's eruption. Also immediately important is a large lava flow-field developing north of Pu`u `O`o which has increased in activity over the past few weeks. On our overflight this morning, this area hosted at least a dozen of breakouts within the thickening flow-field, which apparently has diverted most or all of the flow from Kalapana. At the summit, the overlook vent lava lake remains persistently high with no significant changes so far this year, with fantastic glow still visible for volcano visitors. As only time will tell when this balance will shift again, we will continue to watch and enjoy the changes of Kīlauea! A hui hou!
The more active northern flow-field steams after a wet night
Update Wed 18 Dec 23:36Activity at Kilauea volcano has not changed significantly. No lava is currently active at or near the ocean. The lava lake in Halema'uma'u at the summit continues to rise and fall with inflation / deflation patterns; the vents at Pu'u 'O'o cone on the eastern rift zone continued to feed the Kahauale`a 2 lava flow that was active as small scattered breakouts burning forest to the northeast. Gas emissions remained elevated. (Source: HVO / USGS)