Hawaii Volcano Observatory – Breakouts Persist Northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō

Breakouts remain active in three general areas near Puʻu ʻŌʻō: 1) at the northern base of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, 2) just north of Kahaualeʻa, and 3) the most distal breakout, about 6 km (4 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

This photograph shows much of the most distal breakout, a portion of which was burning forest. Puʻu ʻŌʻō can be seen near the top of the photograph.  (Click to enlarge)

This photograph shows much of the most distal breakout, a portion of which was burning forest. Puʻu ʻŌʻō can be seen near the top of the photograph. (Click to enlarge)

A closer look at the lava flow field near Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Puʻu ʻŌʻō is in the upper left portion of the photograph.

The small forested cone of Kahaualeʻa is just to the left of the center of the photograph. (Click to enlarge)

The small forested cone of Kahaualeʻa is just to the left of the center of the photograph. (Click to enlarge)

Slightly above and to the right of the center of the photograph, the light colored area of lava is the active breakout (which started on February 21) on the north flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

The breakout north of Kahaualeʻa has one lobe that has traveled along the west side of the perched lava channel that was active in late 2007. This breakout consists of blue glassy pāhoehoe, which is easily visible in the photograph on the left.

breakout6

The white box shows the rough extent of the thermal image on the right. Active (flowing) portions of the breakout are shown by yellow and white colors, while the red and purple areas show hot, but solidified, portions of the surface crust.

In the time since our last overflight (March 24), a new collapse pit has formed in the western portion of Puʻu ʻŌʻō Crater.

Numerous hot cracks were observed in this general area during previous visits on foot. (Click to enlarge)

Numerous hot cracks were observed in this general area during previous visits on foot. (Click to enlarge)

This circular pit can be seen in the lower left portion of the photograph, and measures about 27 m (roughly 90 ft) in diameter.

A closer look at the new pit in the western portion of Puʻu ʻŌʻō Crater.

Measurements using the thermal camera images indicated that the lava pond surface was roughly 24 m (about 80 ft) below the rim of the pit.

Measurements using the thermal camera images indicated that the lava pond surface was roughly 24 m (about 80 ft) below the rim of the pit.

Views inside the crater with the naked eye were obscured by thick fume, but the thermal images (right) revealed two areas of ponded lava, separated by a pile of collapse rubble, deep within the pit.

ZipMobile Repairs Successful – What Went Wrong

The Hawaii Department of Transportation’s (HDOT) two ZipMobiles used for the H-1 Freeway ZipperLane are both in operational condition after breaking down on Tuesday, Mar. 31, due to electrical malfunctions.

Zipmobile

The original ZipMobile breakdown on Tuesday morning was caused by an intermittent electrical problem with its computer battery pack unit.  As a result, the on-board CPU card was corrupted.  A replacement was attempted using the computer battery pack unit and CPU card from the backup ZipMobile, but it suffered the same electrical problem.

A technician from ZipMobile vendor, Lindsay Corporation, was flown from California to Hawaii and was able to diagnose the problem, replace the battery pack units and reprogram the CPU cards on Wednesday.  All other mechanical components of the vehicles were unaffected.

Both ZipMobiles were restored to full operational condition on Wednesday with the first at approximately 1 p.m. This ZipMobile closed the deployed ZipperLane between 2 and 4 p.m.  The second ZipMobile was fully restored at approximately 5 p.m. and opened and closed the ZipperLane overnight for normal rush-hour operation this morning.

HDOT will be examining all aspects of the vehicle maintenance plan and its public outreach plans to better inform motorists of large-scale traffic incidents.  These will include such items as:

  • Backup units for the computer battery pack that failed will now be held in reserve in the event of future problems. Previously, this unit was not held in reserve due to its limited, one-year shelf life in storage.  HDOT and Lindsay Corp. are also preparing a list of additional electronic backup parts that are practical to keep on hand.
  • Lindsay Corp. will allow HDOT use of its proprietary software and train local staff on reinstallation procedures.
  • HDOT is submitting a budget proposal to the State Legislature this week for the long-term rehabilitation or replacement for one or both ZipMobiles.
  • Highway operational improvements are being considered to formalize use of freeway shoulder lanes during afternoon rush-hour traffic in various locations, such as the H-1 right shoulders from Pearl Harbor to Salt Lake and from Aiea to Pearl City, that were used in the Tuesday and Wednesday traffic backups.
  • HDOT will be working with the City & County of Honolulu to improve public outreach for future traffic incidents. This will include regular media updates to television, radio and social media outlets.
  • HDOT will be working will all counties and other state departments for major event coordination.

All H-1 ZipperLane operations next week will proceed as normal. HDOT again sincerely thanks Oahu’s motorists for their patience and kokua this week.

Increased Vigilance for Bird Flu Encouraged for Hawaii Poultry and Bird Owners

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is encouraging Hawaii commercial and backyard poultry and bird owners to be vigilant due to outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 along the Pacific flyway (migratory bird path). Hawaii bird and poultry owners are encouraged to institute and maintain good biosecurity measures, which include good sanitation practices and making sure that their birds do not come in contact with other wild and migratory birds.

Flyways

“Hawaii may be geographically far from other land masses, but some migratory birds do fly to Hawaii,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “Bird owners, particularly those who keep their birds outdoors should take precautions, be vigilant and report any symptoms of diseased or dead birds in their flocks.”

Since December 2014, there have been several confirmed outbreaks of HPAI H5 in the Pacific flyway (California, Utah, Nevada and Idaho). In March, new infected premises were also detected along the Central and Mississippi flyways (Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas). The strain that is circulating is a mix of the highly pathogenic Asian and low pathogenic North American strains and has been found in wild birds, as well as in a few backyard and commercial poultry flocks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk to people from the current strains of HPAI to be low. No human cases of these strains have been detected in the United State, Canada, or internationally.

Fortunately, HDOA already has established strict bird import laws that require permits, inspections, health certificates, and in some cases, isolation periods prior to arrival and physical identification. There is also an embargo on importing birds through the mail.

The HDOA veterinarians have been closely monitoring the outbreaks and have implemented pre-entry avian influenza test requirements on imported poultry and birds. In addition, import restrictions have been placed on all poultry, other birds, hatching eggs and day-old chicks from affected zones within states to prevent the importation of infected birds. HDOA also conducts continuous surveillance on poultry within the state for avian influenza.

In Canada and affected states in the U.S., the outbreaks have occurred in domestic turkey farms and some back yard poultry farms that have association with wild waterfowl. There have been no farm-to-farm transmissions and no human illnesses associated with this disease outbreak. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the departments of agriculture in the affected states have quickly quarantined, disposed of infected flocks and set up quarantine and surveillance zones to help insure the disease does not spread.

Poultry and bird owners in Hawaii who notice high mortality in their poultry or birds should contact the HDOA, Division of Animal Industry at (808) 483-7106 to report their losses.

For more information on avian influenza, go to the HDOA website at: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/ldc/adconcerns/aiinfo/

Or, USDA website: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=avian_influenza.html

Or, CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/h5/index.htm

Critically Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals Returned to Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Two critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals (Neomonachus schauinslandi) were successfully returned to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument after being rehabilitated at The Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola Hawaiian Monk Seal Hospital in Kona, March 25, 2015. The seals were rescued last year in an emaciated state, one on Kure Atoll and another on Laysan Island, during NOAA Fisheries Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program’s field camp season.

Lt. Andrew Kauffman, an HC-130 Hercules airplane pilot from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, observes the onload of a Hawaiian Monk Seal in Kona, Hawaii, March 18, 2015. Coast Guard crew members, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Land and Natural Resources partnered together to transport two rehabilitated Hawaiian Monk Seals to Midway Atoll where they would be transferred via ship to Kure Atoll State Wildlife Sanctuary. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle)

Lt. Andrew Kauffman, an HC-130 Hercules airplane pilot from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, observes the onload of a Hawaiian Monk Seal in Kona, Hawaii, March 18, 2015. Coast Guard crew members, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Land and Natural Resources partnered together to transport two rehabilitated Hawaiian Monk Seals to Midway Atoll where they would be transferred via ship to Kure Atoll State Wildlife Sanctuary. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle)

“The successful rehabilitation and release of these young seals demonstrates the collaboration and innovation that will be necessary to save Hawaiian monk seals from extinction,” said Dr. Rachel Sprague, NOAA Fisheries’ Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Coordinator. “The dedicated efforts displayed by NOAA, The Marine Mammal Center, U.S. Coast Guard, State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show how it will take every one of us to help protect these extraordinary animals. As a result of our intervention, two young female monk seals are now returning home to a bright future where they can contribute to the recovery of their species.”

The two juvenile females, Pua ‘Ena O Ke Kai (“fiery child of the sea”) and Meleana (“continuous song”), or Pua and Mele for short, were transported last September aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette to the Ke Kai Ola hospital in Kona, established by the Center in mid-2014. Once at Ke Kai Ola, staff and volunteers with the Center spent five months nursing the animals from their malnourished state to the fat healthy seals they are now. Now these females have a better chance of surviving their first two years of life and will hopefully grow to have their own pups.

Shortly after the hospital opened last year, Ke Kai Ola staff and volunteers also rehabilitated four other young seals, which were returned to French Frigate Shoals and Laysan Island within the Monument last September. In less than a year of the new hospital’s opening, it has made a significant difference in the future of these young seals, who would almost certainly have died without rehabilitation.

“With 40 years of experience caring for seals and sea lions, The Marine Mammal Center is a primary authority on preventing the extinction of the Hawaiian monk seal,” says Dr. Shawn Johnson, Director of Veterinary Science at The Marine Mammal Center. “After providing Mele and Pua with life-saving medical care, we’re proud to partner with NOAA Fisheries, the Coast Guard, the state of Hawaii and the Monument to release these healthy seals back to their ocean home.”

A U.S. Coast Guard HC-130 aircraft crew from Air Station Barbers Point on Oʻahu picked up the seals in Kona and flew them to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge on March 18.

On the evening of March 20, 2015 the seals were loaded onto the offshore supply ship Kahana and departed for Kure Atoll State Wildlife Sanctuary, located at the northernmost point in the Hawaiian archipelago, about 1,350 miles northwest of Honolulu. From the pickup in Kona until their release, the seals were monitored around the clock. Scientists from NOAA Fisheries and The Marine Mammal Center cared for the seals during transport and at Midway Atoll. After arrival at Kure Atoll on March 21, 2015, they were watched over by biologists from NOAA Fisheries and Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) until their release on the 25th.

“The Coast Guard works closely with NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect marine mammals and endangered species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act,” said Lt. Lauren Gillikin, an HC-130 Hercules airplane pilot at Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point. “By promoting the conservation of these mammals the Coast Guard helps to preserve the existing ecosystem.”

The Hawaiian monk seal is critically endangered, with fewer than 1,100 individuals in the wild, including about 900 in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Fewer than one in five Hawaiian monk seal pups in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands survive their first year due to threats like starvation, entanglement in marine debris, male aggression due to abnormally small population size, and more. NOAA Fisheries implements numerous strategies to combat these threats; their monk seal recovery program is the most proactive marine mammal conservation initiative in the world. At least 30 percent of the Hawaiian monk seal population is alive today because of the collaborative efforts to help save them.

Hawaiian monk seals transported from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to the Kona facility for rehabilitation may only be released back to the NWHI. Release at Kure Atoll is favorable given its recent good survival rates for young seals and opportunities for weekly visual surveys by DLNR staff stationed there. Seal movements will also be tracked via satellite for post-release monitoring.

Lava Flow Map and Video Shows Flow Far From Pahoa

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s active East Rift Zone lava flow field.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The area of the flow on March 10, before shutting down near Pāhoa, is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow based on satellite imagery from April 1 is shown in red. Some recent changes north of Puʻu ʻŌʻō are not shown, as that part of the flow field was hidden from satellite view by clouds.

Video from Mick Kalber: