Hawaii Volcanoes Lava Flow Update – Flow Remains Active

Kahaualeʻa 2 flow remains active northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō

The Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, which began just over a year ago, remains active northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Activity on the flow seems to have diminished slightly over the past two weeks, following deflation at the summit. Today, the flow front (in the foreground) was at 8.8 km (5.5 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, but the front had stalled with active breakouts present a short distance behind the flow front. The farthest active breakouts, at about 8.4 km (5.2 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, can be spotted by the small smoke plume just behind the flow front. Puʻu ʻŌʻō can be seen in the distance in the left portion of the photograph.

On the left, a normal photograph shows the front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. On the right, a thermal image shows a similar angle but in the infrared. Warm, but inactive, portions of the flow are shown by the purple and red colors, while the white and yellow areas shows active breakouts. As the thermal image shows, the flow front was inactive today, with the farthest active breakouts (also visible by the smoke plume) present several hundred meters (yards) behind the flow front.
A closer view of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow front. The leading tip of the flow, inactive today, is in the upper right portion of the photograph. The small smoke plume is caused by active breakouts on the flow margin.

Top: Another look at the margin of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. Small vegetation fires triggered by the active lava spread a short distance out from the flow margin. Bottom: A near-vertical look at the margin of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. Numerous trees surrounded by the slowly moving pāhoehoe lava were burned through at their base, causing them to eventually fall over onto the flow itself. In many cases, by the time the tree falls over, the lava crust is no longer hot enough to ignite the wood, leaving a relatively intact tree resting on the flow surface. These fallen trees can make mapping the flow margin on foot very difficult.

A lone time-lapse camera, perched on a mound of solidified lava spatter, withstands thick volcanic fume and brutal weather to provide a record of lava pond activity in the northeast portion of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater. This spot is also the vent area for the Kahaualeʻa 2 lava flow.

Lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater remains active

The lava lake remains active in the Overlook crater, which is nested within the larger Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. The Overlook crater today was filled with thick fume, making visual observations of the lava lake difficult.

Another view of the Overlook crater, comparing the visual photograph with a thermal image taken from a similar position. The thermal camera can “see” through thick fume, providing an unobstructed view of the crater and lava lake. The thermal image clearly shows the inner ledge along the south wall of the Overlook crater, with the active lake surface well below the level of the ledge.

One Response

  1. Thanks, Damon, for keeping us current on the lava flow.

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