Volcanoes National Park to Increase Entrance and Camping Fees

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will incrementally increase entrance and camping fees over the next three years in order to fund deferred maintenance and improvement projects within the park, and to meet national standards for parks with similar visitor amenities. Entrance fees for recreational use have not increased since 1997.

Kilauea Iki with Rainbow.  Photo Carol Johnson

Kilauea Iki with Rainbow. Photo Carol Johnson

Beginning June 1, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will increase its per-vehicle entrance fee in $5 increments from the current price of $10 per vehicle to $15 per-vehicle this year, $20 in 2016, and $25 in 2017. The vehicle pass is valid for seven days. The per-person entrance fee (the rate bicyclists and pedestrians pay) will increase from the current rate of $5 to $8 on June 1, $10 in 2016, and to $12 in 2017. The motorcycle fee will go up from $5 to $10 on June 1, $15 in 2016, and to $20 in 2017.

One significant modification to the new fee structure was based on public input. The annual Tri-Park Pass, considered by many as the kama‘āina, or residents pass, will remain at the current rate of $25 for 2015 and 2016, and will increase to $30 in 2017. Based on public input, the park proposed a $30 fee for the Tri-Park Pass, instead of the national standard of $50. The annual Tri-Park Pass is available to all visitors and allows unlimited entry for one year to three national parks: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and Haleakalā National Park.

New fees are also slated for all backcountry and front-country campsites, including Kulanaokuaiki Campground, and will be $10 per site per night. Backcountry campsites will have a stay limit of three consecutive nights, while the front-country campsites will have a stay limit of seven consecutive nights. Currently, camping is free, except at Nāmakanipaio Campground, which is managed by Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC. The new camping permit fees are similar to other public camping fees statewide.

In addition, entrance fees will increase for commercial tour companies. Currently, road-based tour vans carrying one to six passengers pay a $25 base fee and $5 per person to enter the park. The commercial per-person entrance rates will increase to $8 in 2015; $10 in 2016; and $12 in 2017 and will remain at $12 through 2021. The base fee will not change. Non-road-based tour companies, i.e. hiking tour companies that are on trails more than they are touring the park by vehicle, don’t pay a base rate but their per-person entrance fees would increase under the proposed schedule.

“The increases over the next few years will enable us to continue to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors, while upgrading some basic services like our campgrounds,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We reached out to our community for their feedback on the new fees, and many comments were supportive of the increase as long as the Tri-Park Pass continued to be offered,” she said.

Recreational entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years old, or holders of the Tri-Park, America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Senior, Access, or Military passes. These passes may be obtained at the park, or online.

The current National Park Service (NPS) fee program began in 1997 and allows parks to retain 80 percent of monies collected. Projects funded by entrance fees at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park include ongoing trail maintenance, cabin repairs, hike pamphlets, restrooms, picnic tables, and more. The transformation of the 1932 Administration Building (‘Ōhi‘a Wing) into a cultural museum that visitors will soon enjoy is also a fee-funded project. Entrance fees also protect the Hawaiian ecosystem by funding fencing projects that prevent non-native ungulates like pigs and goats from devouring rare native plants.

An NPS report shows that 1,693,005 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2014 spent $136,838,700 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,672 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $170,878,000.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz Results

After two intensive days of exploration and documentation, the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Parks BioBlitz held on May 15 and 16, 2015, captured a vivid snapshot of the unique plant and animal biodiversity in park.

Kilauea Iki with Rainbow.  Photo Carol Johnson

Kilauea Iki with Rainbow. Photo Carol Johnson

The event brought together more than 170 leading scientists and traditional Hawaiian cultural practitioners, more than 850 students and thousands from the general public. Together they conducted a comprehensive inventory of the plants, insects, mammals, birds and other species that inhabit the 333,086-acre island park. Under the theme of I ka nānā no a ‘ike (“By observing, one learns), alakai‘i were integrated into the survey teams for a more holistic approach to the research and exploration endeavor.

Highlights:

  • More than 6,000 people, including more than 850 schoolchildren, participated in the BioBlitz and the concurrent Biodiversity & Cultural Festival.
  • With a scientist to student ratio of 1 to 5, students were able to truly work side-by-side with top scientists.
  • 22 new species were added to the park’s species list, and sightings of 73 threatened species, including the nēnē and Kamehameha butterfly, were documented.
  • The BioBlitz survey more than doubled the number of fungi species on the park’s list with 17 new fungi documented at the close of the event. Many more will be added in coming days and weeks.
  • The initial scientific species count as of the afternoon BioBlitz closing ceremony on Saturday, May 16, was 416, with 1,535 observations recorded over the course of the two-day event. Organizers expect this number to increase significantly over the next several months as cutting-edge testing of the collected samples continues.
  • The 35th annual Cultural Festival was moved from July to this weekend and expanded to include biodiversity booths and activities. The festival showcased how Hawaiians are true ecological experts and I ka nānā no a ‘ike principles continue today. The Biodiversity & Cultural Festival included hands-on science and cultural exhibits, food, art and top Hawaiian music and dance performances.

The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz is part scientific endeavor, part outdoor classroom excursion and part celebration of biodiversity and culture.

Participants combed the park, observing and recording as many plant and animal species as possible in 24 hours. Activities included catching insects, spotting birds, observing plants and fungi, and using technology to better understand the diverse ecosystems across the park.

Continue reading

Lava Lake at Halemaumau Crater Continues to Drop

Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake continued to drop today (May 15, 2015).

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Measurements of the lake surface late this afternoon showed that it was 62 m (203 ft) below the top of the newly-created vent rim, a ridge (or levee) of solidified lava about 8 m (26 ft) thick that accumulated on top of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater floor from multiple overflows of the vent during the past two weeks.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Webcam Captures “Bathtub Ring” Falling Into Lava Lake

This sequence of HVO webcam images of Kīlauea Volcano’s summit vent, recorded between 1:28 and 1:32 p.m., HST, on May 12, 2015, captures the moment a section of the dark-colored “bathtub ring” (a veneer of fresh lava that coats the vent wall as the lava lake level drops) fell into the lava lake (center).

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The lava veneer collapse, which produced a visible cloud of rock and lava fragments, agitated the lava lake surface and exposed lighter-colored layers of older rock in the vent wall (right).

Hawaiian Monk Seal Prowling Honokohau Harbor

He’s known as B-18 and for the past week this endangered Hawaiian monk seal has been spotted repeatedly swimming in and around boats at Honokohau Small Boat Harbor on Hawaii Island. He’s feeding on fish scraps that have been thrown overboard. This has prompted the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) to remind people that it is against the law to dispose of fish scraps in state waters.

Ikaika, a male Hawaiian monk seal pup, was one of the first four patients at The Marine Mammal Center's Ke Kai Ola Hawaiian Monk Seal Hospital in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Credit -- Koa Matsuoka, NMFS

Ikaika, a male Hawaiian monk seal pup, was one of the first four patients at The Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola Hawaiian Monk Seal Hospital in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Credit — Koa Matsuoka, NMFS

DLNR Chairperson Suzanne Case said, “It would be a tragedy for this seal to be struck by a boat or propeller or to get caught up in netting or marine debris. We don’t want seals to become habituated or conditioned to people. Seals that are fed, even unintentionally by discarded fish scraps, can quickly become “problem seals” that associate people with food and seek out human interactions that are dangerous for seals and people. They are wild creatures and we want to keep them wild.”

All small boat harbors around the state have receptacles for the proper disposal of scraps and all other rubbish.” DOBOR staff at Honokohau is in the process of posting reminder signs around the harbor and in the harbormaster’s office to remind people to properly take care of fish scraps. They are also including reminders in monthly billing statements sent to boat owners who have moorings at the harbor. Case concluded, “This is not the only place where this has happened and it is not the first time it’s happened. With fewer than 1100 Hawaiian monk seals left in the wild, it’s critical that everyone does their part to protect these creatures and show them our kokua.”

 

Environmental Protection Agency Settles with Honolulu – County to Pay Nearly $17 Million

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with the City and County of Honolulu to resolve air violations at its closed Kapaa Landfill in Kailua, Oahu by agreeing to pay nearly $17 million—$16.1 million solar power system and a penalty of $875,000.

EPA LOGOThis environmental project involves the installation of photovoltaic arrays on more than 250,000 square feet of buildings and open space area at the city’s waste-to-energy H-POWER facility by 2020.

Because decomposing refuse in a large landfill generates methane and hazardous air pollutants, EPA, under the authority of the federal Clean Air Act, requires a system to collect and control the gases. The city failed to install and operate the gas collection and control system by its deadline in 2002. The gas collection and control system at the landfill was not in place until April 2013, and is currently operational.

“Air emissions from a closed landfill are toxic, and can contribute to global warming,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “If the proper systems had been in place at the landfill, over 343,000 tons of methane, and 6,800 tons of hazardous air pollutants and volatile organics would not have escaped to the atmosphere.”

Honolulu is the owner/operator of the 215-acre landfill, which also includes the smaller adjacent Kalaheo Landfill. The landfill first received solid waste in 1969 and closed in May 1997. From 1990 to 2002, Gas Recovery Systems, Inc. installed and operated a gas collection system and turbine on behalf of the city for the generation of electric energy. GRS ceased operation of the gas turbine due to its failure in 2002.

Effective gas controls at a landfill reduce the release of hazardous gases such as benzene, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, ethylene dichloride, perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride and vinylidene chloride. Many air pollutants identified in landfill gas are either known or suspected carcinogens. Air emissions of methane from landfills can also contribute to global methane levels, a greenhouse gas with about 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

“This settlement holds Honolulu accountable for past failures to collect and control toxic gases and greenhouse gas emissions from the Kapaa Landfill, but it also lays the foundation for better environmental stewardship in the future,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Residents who call Oahu home will realize the benefits of this agreement – which includes clean solar power production and reduced reliance on fossil fuels – for many years to come.”

The solar panels will be installed at the City’s H-POWER (Honolulu Program of Waste Energy Recovery) facility in Campbell Industrial Park. The new solar panels will have a capacity of 3.1 megawatts and will generate over 5.0 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power 800 Oahu households on average. This action will lead to less reliance on fossil fuels on Oahu.

Today’s proposed Clean Air Act consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court in Hawaii, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval, and is now available for review at: www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html

For more information about Clean Air Act landfill regulations, please visit the EPA’s web site at:
http://www.epa.gov/outreach/lmop/faq/landfill-gas.html.

Lava Lake in Halemaumau Crater Drops

The summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater has dropped significantly over the past two days, as Kīlauea’s summit has deflated.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The dropping lava level has allowed lava veneer on the walls of the Overlook crater to fall away, clearly exposing the contact between the original rim of the Overlook crater (which is the original, pre-overflow floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater) and the stack of recent lava overflows. These overflows are roughly 8 meters (26 feet) thick in total.

New Satellite Image Shows Lava Flow Activity and Progress

This satellite image was captured on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 by the Landsat 8 satellite. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see.

The lava flow field is partly obscured by clouds, but the image shows much of the activity on the June 27th flow.

Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.   (Click to enlarge)

Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds. (Click to enlarge)

There have been three areas of breakouts active on the June 27th flow recently. The Feb 21 breakout has slowly migrated north over the past couple months. The breakout north of Kahaualeʻa has been active recently at the forest boundary, triggering small brush fires. The farthest breakout is 6-8 km (4-5 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and consists of scattered activity near the forest boundary.

VIDEO – Lava Lake Remains High

The lava lake in the Overlook crater, within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at Kīlauea’s summit, remains at a high level and close to the Overlook crater rim. Overflows onto the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater floor have built up the rim of the Overlook crater several meters, and recent overflows are visible in the right side of the photograph.

Spattering was vigorous today in the southern portion of the lake. From this view, the spattering was hidden behind a portion of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater wall, but airborne spatter can be seen in the bottom left portion of the photo. The summit of Mauna Loa can be seen in the upper right.  (Click to enlarge)

Spattering was vigorous today in the southern portion of the lake. From this view, the spattering was hidden behind a portion of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater wall, but airborne spatter can be seen in the bottom left portion of the photo. The summit of Mauna Loa can be seen in the upper right. (Click to enlarge)

The lake level this afternoon was about 7 meters (yards) above the original (pre-overflow) floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

VIDEO:

This Quicktime movie shows spattering at the margin of the summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

Click to view the Quick Time Movie

Click to view the Quick Time Movie

Spattering has been common at the lake, and when it occurs is easily visible from the public viewing area at Jaggar Museum. This video shows a closer view from the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu, which is closed to the public due to volcanic hazards.

Electric Company Responds to Recent Power Interruptions

Hawaii Electric Light reports that customers in various areas around the island experienced brief power interruptions this week.

Hawaiian Electric Company Logo

The interruptions occurred on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday evening when a unit at the company’s Keahole Power Plant tripped offline. An estimated 12,000 customers were without power for about five minutes each time until backup generators were started.

“We understand that power outages are disruptive, and we sincerely apologize to our customers who were inconvenienced by these interruptions,” said spokeswoman Kristen Okinaka.

Managing an electric utility grid is a challenging and intricate process. It requires carefully balancing generation with load. Most utility grids occasionally experience a sudden loss of generation. This could occur when a generator unexpectedly trips offline or when weather conditions significantly reduce the amount of energy produced from renewable resources.

Hawaii Electric Light’s system operators work hard to maintain the reliability of the grid. However, when generation changes very quickly, protective devices automatically disconnect loads to help maintain service for the majority of customers. This is called Under Frequency Load Shedding. Some customers will experience a temporary, short power interruption while backup generators are started.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience during the past week,” Okinaka said. “We want to assure our customers that we have sufficient generation to continue to serve our community.” Updates on power outages and restoration efforts can be found on Hawaii Electric Light’s Twitter account: @HIElectricLight. To report a power outage, please call (808) 969-6666.

Lava Breakouts Remain Active – Lava Lake Remains High

The June 27th lava flow remains active, with breakouts focused in several areas northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The farthest downslope activity observed on today’s overflight was roughly 8 km (5 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

This photograph shows one of the active breakouts closer to Puʻu ʻŌʻō.  (Click to enlarge)

This photograph shows one of the active breakouts closer to Puʻu ʻŌʻō. (Click to enlarge)

One of several lobes on the June 27th flow that was at the forest boundary today, burning vegetation northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

Summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater remains at high level

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Over the past week, the summit lava lake in the Overlook crater rose and spilled out onto the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, creating the dark flows in the south part of Halemaʻumaʻu (left side of crater from this direction). The extent of the lake itself, set within the Overlook crater, is slightly difficult to distinguish from this view but the spattering at the lake margin is visible. The overflows onto the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater floor, not counting the area of the lake itself, total about 11 hectares (28 acres).

A closer look at the lava lake and overflows on the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

hvo147The outline of the Overlook crater, and the active lake, is easier to distinguish in this view.

From this angle, the extent of the lava lake within the Overlook crater is much easier to distinguish from the surrounding overflows.

hvo148

The closed Halemaʻumaʻu parking lot is in the right side of the photograph.

Video of Another Explosion at Lava Lake – Tourists Don’t Know What to Think!

A portion of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater wall collapsed at 1:20 pm today, impacting the lava lake and triggering a small explosion of spatter and a robust particle-laden plume.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Fist-size clasts were deposited around the closed Halemaʻumaʻu visitor overlook.

A sequence of still images taken from the webcam positioned at the closed Halemaʻumaʻu overlook, spanning about six seconds.

explosion seriesThe collapse originated from a portion of the wall directly below the webcam, but just out of view. Large pieces of molten spatter can be seen flying through the air and being deposited on the crater walls below the camera.

This Quicktime movie shows a small explosive event that occurred at 1:20pm today at the summit lava lake. A collapse of a portion of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater wall impacted the lake and triggered an explosion of spatter. Fist-size clasts were found scattered along the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater near the  closed visitor overlook.  (Click to view Video)

This Quicktime movie shows a small explosive event that occurred at 1:20pm today at the summit lava lake. A collapse of a portion of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater wall impacted the lake and triggered an explosion of spatter. Fist-size clasts were found scattered along the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater near the closed visitor overlook. (Click to view Video)

Commentary – TMT Has Bent Over Backwards to Address Concerns

I’ve followed the Thirty Meter Telescope public vetting process over the past seven years. The unprecedented public protests against this project caused me to write this commentary.

The public had equal opportunity to give comments about this telescope project. It underwent an extended contested case hearing process before the Board of Land and Natural Resources granted the conservation district use permit in 2013. In addition, Governor Lingle accepted the FEIS in 2010. There was a 60 day window to contest the FEIS after acceptance. No one stepped forward to do this during that window.

The hearing officer determined the Thirty Meter Telescope met all eight criteria to develop their project in the conservation district.

Click to view

Click to view

In addition, he noted the Hawaii Administrative Rules #13-5-24c permits the construction of astronomy facilities in the conservation district, as long there is a management plan in place.

In short, the Thirty Meter Telescope Corporation has bent over backwards to address all concerns about their project over the last seven years.

This is why it would be huge mistake to revoke their vested permits after they’ve been granted. The TMT relied on these permits to start construction on their telescope.

The possible revocation of their legally obtained permits would bring up eerie parallels to the Hokuli’a project in South Kona. Judge Ibarra invalidated their permits after four years of construction and after Oceanside spent 350 million dollars on their project. However, the big difference between these two project is the fact TMT followed the law when obtaining their entitlements, Oceanside (Hokuli’a) did not.

Judge Ibarra placed an injunction on Hokulia project for 2.5 years until a settlement agreement allowed construction to resume in 2006. I foresee a similar scenario happening with the TMT project. The Mauna Kea stakeholders need to reach a global settlement that would allow construction to resume on this telescope.

The Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan contains an excellent framework to get this process started. For example, the TMT will be last new telescope on Mauna Kea. All new telescope projects after the TMT will recycle existing sites.

However, I believe any global settlement needs to go further.

The University Hawaii and the other owners of the Mauna Kea telescopes should reevaluate the telescope decommissioning plan for the science reserve area. The Hawaii Tribune Herald reported the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, James Maxwell Clerk Telescope and Very Low Baseline Array are facing possible decommissioning before the Mauna Kea science reserve master lease expires in 2033.

This is on top of the scheduled decommissioning of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory slated to begin 2016.

The University of Hawaii also needs to indefinitely delay any attempts to extend the master lease for the science reserve area. The current lease expires in 2033, which means all telescopes on Mauna Kea face decommissioning between 2025 and 2033.

The university naturally wants the lease extended another 65 years.I believe more discussion between all Mauna Kea stakeholders is necessary before this proposal moves forward. If this doesn’t happen, the University of Hawaii risks turning an ugly situation uglier.

Mauna Kea’s telescopes have contributed 92 million dollars of direct economic impact in Hawaii County per year. This figure cannot be understated. If all the Mauna Kea telescopes were removed, it would be a huge economic hit to this island.

This is another reason why all the Mauna Kea stakeholders need to come to together and discuss a mutually agreeable plan for Mauna Kea’s future. These discussion need to occur in a face to face environment and not through social media. The latter has poisoned all civil discussion regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope project and future of Mauna Kea.

Aaron Stene,
Kailua-Kona

Hawaii Volcano Observatory Statement on Current Volcanic Activities and What We Can Expect to Happen

Hawaii Volcano Observatory  Statement on current activities:

After a week of elevated activity, HVO would like to review recent observations and thoughts on what we may expect next at Kīlauea Volcano.
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LAVA FLOWS ON THE FLOOR OF HALEMAʻUMAʻU

Beginning at about 9:40 p.m., HST, last night and continuing into this morning, the Overlook crater lava lake overflowed its rim on several occasions, sending short, lobate sheets of pāhoehoe as far as 130 m (142 yds) across the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. These overflows were captured on USGS-HVO’s web cameras. Thus far, the flows have been brief and their forward motion ceased as the lava lake level fell and lava subsided into the Overlook crater. As yet, no change in lava spattering or surface circulation patterns on the lake in response to these overflows has been noted.

Given the sustained high, and slowly rising, levels of lava within the vent during the past week, these overflows were expected and they are likely to continue intermittently. During similar lava lake activity at Halemaʻumaʻu in the 1800s and early 1900s, lava lakes frequently produced overflows. Over time, overflows and intermittent spattering can build a collar of solidified lava that then contains the rising and circulating lava lake. This phenomenon is known as a ‘perched lava lake.’

ROCKFALLS, EXPLOSIONS, AND SPATTER ON THE HALEMA‘UMA‘U CRATER RIM;
ASHFALL AT JAGGAR OVERLOOK AND BEYOND

Yesterday morning at about 10:20 a.m., HST, a rockfall from the southeast wall of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater above the lava lake initiated an explosion from the lake surface. Large clots of molten spatter up to 2 meters (2 yards) across showered the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu in the vicinity of the closed visitor overlook fence. The hot spatter formed a nearly continuous blanket for about 100 m (110 yards) along the crater rim and extended back from the rim about 50 m (55 yards). Small bits of crater-wall rock were embedded in the spatter clots. Additional explosions and showers of rock and spatter can be expected. They can occur suddenly and without warning and underscore the exceedingly hazardous nature of the Halema‘uma‘u Crater rim, an area that has been closed to the public since late 2007.

Visitors to the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Jaggar Museum Overlook and other Park areas should also note that under southerly wind conditions, similar rockfalls and explosions can result in a dusting of powdery to gritty ash composed of volcanic glass and rock fragments. Several such ashfalls occurred last weekend and, although they represent a very minor hazard at this time, people should be aware that additional dustings of ash are likely at Jaggar Museum and other areas around the Kīlauea summit. For more information about volcanic ash hazards and precautions at Kīlauea, please see: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/hazards/FAQ_SO2-Vog-Ash/main.html

CONTINUED INFLATION AND EARTHQUAKE ACTIVITY IN THE KĪLAUEA SUMMIT AND UPPER EAST RIFT ZONE

For the past week or so, HVO monitoring networks have recorded steady inflation of the Kīlauea Volcano summit area. Shallow earthquake activity has also been elevated beneath the summit caldera, upper East Rift Zone, and upper Southwest Rift Zone. Of the hundreds of earthquakes that have occurred in the past week, most have been small, less than magnitude-2 (M2).However, this morning (April 29) a M3.0 earthquake occurred at the easternmost caldera boundary. It is the second M3+ earthquake in this region during this sequence.

During this period of elevated summit activity, there has been no obvious change in the eruption rate of lava from Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Rates of gas emission from both the summit and Puʻu ʻŌʻō remain largely unchanged. Short-lived increases in sulfur dioxide from the summit lava lake have been noted during rockfall-triggered explosive events, such as the one that occurred yesterday morning.

Video by Mick Kalber:

WHAT WE CAN EXPECT

The current activity is best explained by an increase in magma supply to the Kīlauea Volcano magma reservoir or storage system, something that has occurred many times during the ongoing East Rift Zone eruption. Increased supply and shallow storage can explain the higher magma column in the Overlook crater, as well as the continuing inflation and elevated earthquake activity in the summit region. Higher volumes of magma moving throughout the summit and upper East Rift Zone pressurizes the reservoir and magma transport system and causes small earthquakes and inflationary tilt.

As long as magma supply is elevated, we expect continued high lava lake levels accompanied by additional overflows. Lava from these overflows could cover more of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater floor, form a perched lake, or result in some combination of these two processes. Spattering or lava fountaining sources can migrate across the surface of the lava lake, as recently observed. We expect continued rockfalls, intermittent explosions and ash fall, and continued high levels of gas release.

The evolution of unrest in the upper East Rift Zone is less certain. It is possible that a surge of lava will reach Puʻu ʻŌʻō and lava flow output will increase, both on the flanks and within the crater of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. It is also possible that lava will form a new vent at the surface. If this happens, it will most likely occur along a portion of the East Rift Zone between Pauahi Crater and Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Other outbreaks in the summit area or along either rift zone on Kīlauea cannot be ruled out. If a new outbreak or surge in lava to Puʻu ʻŌʻō occurs, we will expect a drop in the summit lava lake.

HVO continues to closely monitor Kīlauea Volcano. We are especially watching for any sign of unrest that may precede a new outbreak of lava or a change in output at either Puʻu ʻŌʻō or the summit Overlook crater vent. We will continue to post daily eruption updates on the HVO web site, along with photos, videos, and maps as they are available at: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php

An annotated photograph showing summit features named in this statement, such as Overlook crater and Halemaʻumaʻu, is posted at: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/archive/summit-labels.jpg

HVO Contact Information: askHVO@usgs.gov

Lava Lake Overflows Vent Rim

Photo from the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu showing the lava lake in the completely filled Overlook crater. Repeated overflows are beginning to construct levees around the lake, such that the level of the lake is now perched about 2 m (7 ft) above the original floor of Halemaʻumaʻu.

Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake, which was about 12 m (40 ft) below the vent rim on April 25 (left), overflowed the vent rim for the first time at about 9:40 p.m., HST, on April 28. As of noon on April 29 (right), the lava lake had overflowed the vent rim several more times. These Webcam images capture the summit vent before and after the overflows. (Click to enlarge)

Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake, which was about 12 m (40 ft) below the vent rim on April 25, overflowed the vent rim for the first time at about 9:40 p.m., HST, on April 28. As of noon on April 29, the lava lake had overflowed the vent rim several more times. (Click to enlarge)

DLNR Closes Maui Beach After Fatal Shark Attack

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has closed Makena State Park and ocean waters from Big Beach to La Perouse light house to swimmers, divers, and other ocean users.

Makena State Park Beach is closed after a fatal shark attack.

Makena State Park Beach is closed after a fatal shark attack.

This is in response to a fatal shark bite this morning in the Kanahena Cove area of Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve.  DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers, Division of Aquatic Resources staff, and County lifeguards are on scene to investigate and warn the public. Shark warning signs are being posted. Further details about the incident are pending.

The area will be closed at least until noon tomorrow, at which time officials on the scene will assess the area for reopening.

Details about other recent shark incidents in Hawaii can be found at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/sharks/shark-incidents/incidents-list/

Lava Lake at Volcano Explodes Scaring the Crap Out of Tourists

A rockfall from the wall of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater impacted the lava lake around 10:20 am, triggering an explosion of spatter and smaller particles.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

HVO geologists working on the far side of the crater captured the initial moments of the plume rising. The explosion deposited a large amount of spatter around the closed Halemaʻumaʻu visitor overlook.

Rocks falling into the summit lava lake generated an explosion that threw large fragments of molten lava onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, 85 m (280 ft) above the lake.

ExplosionThese fragments pose a significant hazard, and are one reason this area remains closed.

Spatter from the explosion also landed on the Halemaʻumaʻu webcam, melting some of the wire insulation but not enough to interrupt its operation.

tephra from 10:20 collapse and explosive eventGas in the lava lake was rapidly released during the 10:20 am explosive event, causing the lava lake surface to drop a few meters (yards).

This photo was taken moments after the explosive event, and shows the overhanging ledge of lava along the rim that was exposed as the lava level dropped.

This photo was taken moments after the explosive event, and shows the overhanging ledge of lava along the rim that was exposed as the lava level dropped.

Early this morning, prior to the explosive event at 10:20 am, the lake was close to the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, with spattering along the lake margin.

428 lava lake

Rise in Lava Lake Creates Surge in Visitation at Volcanoes National Park

Thousands of additional visitors are flocking to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to witness the large lava lake steadily rise at the summit of Kīlauea volcano. lava Lake 427

Over the last several days, visitors waited up to 30 minutes or longer to park. To ease traffic once the Jaggar Museum and Kīlauea Overlook parking lots fill up, rangers are currently redirecting vehicles during peak visitation hours to park at the Kīlauea Military Camp ball field. From there, visitors can hike one mile to the Jaggar Museum observation deck, the closest and best vantage point to view the spectacular lava lake.

“Visitors should come prepared to ensure a safe and enjoyable park experience,” said Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We encourage people to avoid peak hours, and arrive after 10 p.m. and before 4 a.m. if possible, or they will likely wait in line for parking. The park remains open 24 hours a day,” she said.

Tips for an optimal viewing experience:

  • Be prepared to hike one mile each way between Kīlauea Military Camp ball field and the Jaggar Museum observation deck on Crater Rim Trail. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes, bring rain gear, water, binoculars, a flashlight, and extra batteries.  ​
  • Carpool if possible to reduce the number of vehicles in the parking areas.
  • As a courtesy to other visitors, no “tailgating” in the Jaggar Museum or Kīlauea Overlook parking lots. Choose another picnic location so others have a chance to view the eruption.
  • To observe viewing and weather conditions, monitor the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webcams. The KI camera provides a panoramic view of Halema‘uma‘u Crater from HVO.
  • High levels of dangerous sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas and volcanic ash can be blown over Jaggar Museum by southerly winds. These gases are a danger to everyone, particularly to people with heart or respiratory problems, young children and pregnant women. Kīlauea Visitor Center offers updates on air quality 24 hours a day, and visitors can monitor the Hawaii SO2 network website.

In addition, the public is reminded that park entrance fees apply and that the use of unmanned aircraft (drones) is prohibited in all national parks.

 

Lava Lake Within 10 Feet of Floor of Halema’uma’u Crater

This photo shows the lava lake in the Overlook crater this morning, when it reached to within 3 m (10 ft) of the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu. This is the highest the lava lake has reached during the current summit eruption.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This is a view of spattering at the east corner of the lava lake this morning.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Lava Lake Rises Close to Surface

This photo, taken yesterday mid-day, shows the lava lake as seen from the west side of Halemaʻumaʻu, which offers a different perspective.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The lava lake was about 10 m (33 ft) below the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu at this time.

This grainy evening photo shows the lake at 6:30 PM, when it was a mere 7 m (23 ft) below the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater floor.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge