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New Lava Flow Map Released

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of February 24 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of March 16 is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow line is the trace of the active lava tube (dashed where uncertain).

The blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

Ground Crack at Kīlauea Ocean Entry is Cause for Concern

Due to the instability of the sea cliff above the ocean entry and other hazards created by molten lava flowing into the sea, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park has established a viewing area (noted by yellow arrow in photo) from which the ocean entry can be seen in relative safety.

A thermal image taken during HVO’s overflight of Kīlauea Volcano’s ocean entry on Jan. 25, 2017, revealed a hot ground crack in the sea cliff just above where lava is flowing into the sea.

Because the crack suggested an unstable sea cliff, HVO geologists briefly visited the site on foot for closer observations and measurements this past weekend.

Carefully approaching the site in protective gear on Jan. 28, HVO geologists determined that the eastern end of the hot crack was about 30 cm (11.8 in) wide and deeply cut into recent lava atop the older sea cliff.

The western end could not be accessed due to poor air quality, spatter fallout, and other safety concerns. This crack could be a precursor to collapse of an unstable section of the sea cliff, making the site extremely dangerous for anyone who ventures too closely to the ocean entry by land or by sea.

Using a thermal image of the crack above Kīlauea volcano’s ocean entry (steam from lava flowing into the sea is visible at the top of the left photo), HVO geologists determined that the temperature within the eastern end of the crack is up to about 220 degrees Celsius (428 degrees Fahrenheit).

At Kīlauea’s ocean entry on Jan. 28 and 29, the interaction of molten lava flowing into cool seawater caused pulsating littoral explosions that threw spatter (fragments of molten lava) high into the air.

During one exceptionally large burst, spatter was thrown about twice the height of the sea cliff. These ocean entry littoral explosions, both large and small, create hazardous conditions on land and at sea.

Some of these incandescent clasts fell on top of the sea cliff behind the ocean entry, forming a small spatter cone.

Update HVO Lava Map Shows Revised Coastline

This map updates the preliminary ocean entry map below, based on mapping conducted on January 3, 2017. The map of the coastline at the lava flow ocean entry at Kamokuna shows the areas of the lava delta and adjacent coastline that collapsed into the ocean on December 31, 2016.

The collapsed areas are shown with an ‘x’ pattern and a blue background and are now part of the ocean. The shape of the eastern Kamokuna lava delta was revised based on satellite imagery acquired on December 25, 2016. The remaining sections of the lava delta, including the inactive western Kamokuna delta, are shown as a stippled pattern with a pink background. The active lava tube is shown with a yellow line and is dashed where its location is uncertain.

This image is from a research camera positioned on Holei Pali, looking east towards Lava Flow 61G and Kalapana.

The current ocean entry point, where lava cascades into the water, is located where the lava tube intersects the sea cliff. The NPS ropeline is shown as a dashed black line. The western extent of the ropeline was not mapped and is therefore not show; the eastern extent of the ropeline was moved on January 3, and has been approximated on this map between the emergency road and the coast. The dotted black line inland from the coast marks the location of the sea cliff before the Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption began in 1983. The background is a Digital Globe satellite image acquired January 9, 2016; the episode 61g lava flow is the partly transparent area that overlies the background image.

Lava Flow Update: East Kamokuna Ocean Entry Still Active – West Entry Inactive

An aerial image of the east Kamokuna lava delta this morning shows lava entering the ocean at the front of the delta.

Photo by Rick Hazlett, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

Photo by Rick Hazlett, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

Looking down from the helicopter, cracks are visible on the surface of the east Kamokuna lava delta. These cracks are reminders that lava deltas are inherently unstable features that can collapse without warning.

hvo-1028a A lava delta collapse can send tons of hot rock into the sea, generating steam-driven explosions that can hurl fragments of molten lava and solid rock 100s of meters (yards) in all directions—inland and seaward.

The east Kamokuna ocean entry was still active on October 25, with multiple entry points spread along the eastern side of the lava delta.

Lava dribbling into the sea at the front of the delta creates a billowy white plume, which looks harmless, but is actually a mixture of superheated steam, hydrochloric acid, and tiny shards of volcanic glass.

The west Kamokuna lava delta was completely inactive, with no lava entering the ocean.

The west Kamokuna lava delta was completely inactive, with no lava entering the ocean.

New Lava Flow Map Shows Recent Changes to East Rift Zone

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field at the coast. The area of the active flow field as of September 12 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as mapped on September 20 is shown in red. The dashed blue line shows the pre-1983 coastline. The base is a Digital Globe image from January 2016.

hvo-map-92016Lava deltas – the new land accreted to the front of an older sea cliff – are prone to collapse because the loose underwater lava rubble on which they are built can sometimes become unstable and slide. The interaction of the hot rock composing the delta and cold seawater has led to violent explosions that blasted rocks in all directions, caused local tsunami, and produced billowing plumes of ash and hot, acidic steam.

The dotted line surrounding the Kamokuna lava delta indicates a distance of 300 m (790 ft), which is the maximum documented distance that rocks and spatter have been thrown inland from the older sea cliff by delta explosions that occurred during the Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption. It is possible that debris could be thrown even farther during exceptionally large explosions.

Lava Delta Collapses Into Ocean Triggering Small Explosion

Kīlauea Volcano continues to erupt at its summit and from its East Rift Zone. The lava lake at Kīlauea’s summit has risen substantially within the Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook vent over the past few days and is clearly visible from the Jaggar Museum. Summit tiltmeters have been registering inflationary tilt since Monday morning (9/5).

Kīlauea Volcano's lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater rose steadily over the past day in concert with summit inflation. This morning, with the lake level at just 19 m (62 ft) below the summit vent rim, vigorous spattering on the lake surface was visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

Kīlauea Volcano’s lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater rose steadily over the past day in concert with summit inflation. This morning, with the lake level at just 19 m (62 ft) below the summit vent rim, vigorous spattering on the lake surface was visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

The 61g lava flow, extending southeast from Puʻu ʻŌʻō on Kīlauea’s south flank, continues to supply lava to the ocean near Kamokuna. Last weekend, HVO observers found that persistent noxious volcanic fumes downwind from the ocean entry area necessitated the use of respirators. On Monday (5 September), a large section of the western ocean entry delta collapsed into the ocean, triggering a small explosion.

As a strong caution to visitors viewing the 61g flow ocean entry (where lava meets the sea), there are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water.

Also, the new land created is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf, causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea. In several instances, such collapses, once started, have also incorporated parts of the older sea cliff. Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates an acidic plume laden with fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.

“Kamokuna” Lava Ocean Entry Continues – Significant Hazards Persist

Lava from the 61g flow continues into the ocean along Kīlauea’s south coast.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Today’s field crew also noted active pāhoehoe breakouts a few hundred meters (yards) upslope from the coast and road.

Meanwhile, back at the summit of Kīlauea…

Perched on the rim of Kīlauea Volcano’s summit caldera, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and NPS Jaggar Museum (foreground) overlook the active lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The black lava flows to the left and right of the fuming vent spilled onto the crater floor in April-May 2015, when the lava lake briefly filled to overflowing.

The summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater continuously circulates, with lava upwelling on one side of the lake and downwelling on the opposite side, often resulting in vigorous spattering (bright spot on left side of lake).

The silhouette of Mauna Loa is visible in upper right.  Click to enlarge

The silhouette of Mauna Loa is visible in upper right. Click to enlarge

As it circulates, sections of the dark-colored, semi-solid lake surface pull apart, revealing the incandescent molten lava beneath and creating the appearance of a jigsaw puzzle. This evening, the lava lake surface was about 26 m (85 ft) below the vent rim.

As a strong caution to visitors viewing the new ocean entry (location where lava meets the sea) for Flow 61G, there are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water.

Also, the new land created is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea. Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates an acidic plume laden with fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.