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Public Invited to Learn More About VOG and Volcanic Gases

The public is invited to learn about Kīlauea’s volcanic gases and vog (volcanic air pollution) in an “After Dark in the Park” program at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Tues., Jan. 31, at 7 p.m.

Sulfur dioxide gas emissions from the crater of Pu‘u ‘Ō ‘ō on Kīlauea’s east rift zone (above) and the vent within Halema‘uma‘u Crater at Kīlauea’s summit create volcanic pollution that affects the air quality of downwind communities.  Here, an HVO gas geochemist measures Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō gas emissions using an instrument that detects gas compositions on the basis of absorbed infrared light

U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists Jeff Sutton and Tamar Elias will update information on Kīlauea Volcano’s gas emissions and associated environmental impacts.  Their presentation will be at the park’s Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium. Park entrance fees apply.

Sutton and Elias will discuss how vog forms from sulfur dioxide gas emitted from Kīlauea’s east rift and summit vents.  They will also provide an overview of existing resources that residents can consult to better deal with this notable aspect of the volcano’s ongoing eruptions. After their talk, an optional “gas tasting” session will be offered, during which attendees can safely learn to recognize individual volcanic gases by smell.

Kīlauea has been releasing large amounts of potentially hazardous volcanic gases for nearly three decades—since the beginning of the volcano’s east rift zone eruption in 1983.  In March 2008, Kīlauea gas emissions increased further when a new vent opened in Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of the volcano.

Average sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas emissions from Kīlauea’s east rift zone vent declined significantly in 2010 but jumped briefly during the Kamoamoa eruption in March 2011.  Kīlauea summit SO2 emissions, overall, have remained high since the opening of the Halema‘uma‘u Overlook Vent in 2008.

At of the end of 2011, the combined emission rate for these two sources was about half of what it was during 2008-2009. This lower combined rate has been comparatively good news for downwind residents and visitors of Hawai‘i Island.

This presentation is one of many programs offered by HVO during Hawai‘i Island’s Volcano Awareness Month in January 2012.  For details about this After Dark in the Park program, please call 808-985-6011.  More information about Volcano Awareness Month is posted on the HVO website at hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

NASA’s G-III Finishes Hawaii Volcano Radar Study

NASA’s Gulfstream III environmental research aircraft returned to the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., Jan. 14 following an eight-day deployment to Hawaii. Five science flights totaling more than 31 hours allowed scientists to collect radar imaging data about volcanoes intended to help scientists better understand processes occurring under Earth’s surface.

This ground-level photo of the Halema’uma’u Crater of the Kilauea volcano was taken by a member of the NASA JPL / Dryden research team during a day off from the radar imaging missions. Although lava is not flowing from this crater, smoke and steam continue to rise into the air above the caldera. Lava continues to flow from Kilauea's east rift zone, the most active part of Kilauea, as it has since 1983. (NASA / Troy Asher)

The airborne study was conducted from an altitude of 40,000 feet using the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar, or UAVSAR, developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory mounted in a pod under the aircraft. The study focused on the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, the state’s most active volcano, although science data flight lines were flown over nearby volcanoes including Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, Hualalai and Kohala.

NASA research pilot Troy Asher reported that good weather and the reliability of the aircraft and the radar equipment enabled the research team to accomplish virtually all of their planned science data collection flight lines.

“We had one day off, and used that time to do a little touring on the island to see firsthand some of what we were observing from 40,000 feet,” he added.

The UAVSAR uses a technique called interferometry that sends pulses of microwave energy from the sensor on the aircraft to the ground to detect and measure very subtle deformations in Earth’s surface. The radar data collected during the mission will be analyzed over the next few weeks to determine if significant ground movement or deformation is occurring in the active volcanic areas.

The UAVSAR’s first data acquisition over this region took place in January 2010. Assisted by a Platform Precision Autopilot designed by engineers at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, flights over the volcano were repeated in May 2011. Those two sets of observations successfully imaged the surface deformation caused by the March 2011 fissure eruption in Kilauea’s east rift zone.

NASA Plane Returns to the Big Island to Help Study Voclanoes

NASA’s G-III research aircraft returned to the Hawaii Islands Jan. 7 to continue a study of volcanoes intended to help scientists better understand processes occurring under Earth’s surface.

NASA's Gulfstream-III research testbed lifts off from the Edwards Air Force Base runway with the UAV synthetic aperture radar pod under its belly. (NASA / Tom Tschida)

Mounted in a pod under the aircraft is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory-developed Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar. UAVSAR uses a technique called interferometry that sends pulses of microwave energy from the sensor on the aircraft to the ground to detect and measure very subtle deformations in Earth’s surface.

This color-enhanced interferogram image taken between January 2010 and May 2011 show the east rift zone of Kilauea volcano, about six miles from the summit caldera. Lava has been flowing from the east rift zone since 1983, and is the most active part of Kilauea. (JPL / UAVSAR image)

The radar will collect data over the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii from an altitude of about 41,000 feet. The UAVSAR’s first data acquisition over this region took place in January 2010. Assisted by a Platform Precision Autopilot designed by engineers at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, flights over the volcano were repeated in May 2011. Those two sets of observations successfully imaged the surface deformation caused by the March 2011 fissure eruption in Kilauea’s east rift zone.

Flights this month will trace the same path as the two previous years to measure deformation of the volcano since the March 2011 eruption and as part of future studies of the volcano’s changing deformation patterns due to volcanic activity.

The aircraft departed NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., Jan. 7 and is scheduled to return Jan. 15. It will be based at Kona International Airport while in Hawaii.

Volcano Scientist Presents Two Talks About Kilauea’s Ongoing Eruptions

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s 1912–2012 Centennial—100 Years of Tracking Eruptions and Earthquakes

Matt Patrick, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will present two talks about Kīlauea Volcano in East Hawai‘i in the coming week.   The presentations are part of a series of HVO talks being held during Hawai`i Island’s 3rd annual Volcano Awareness Month in January 2012, and in celebration of HVO’s 100th anniversary.

An update on the active volcanic vent within Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of Kīlauea will be the topic of Patrick’s talk on Tuesday, January 10.  This “After Dark in the Park” presentation will be held in the Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at 7:00 p.m.  The talk is free, but Park entrance fees apply.

The vent in Halema‘uma‘u Crater opened in March 2008.  Since then, the eruption has consisted of constant degassing, occasional explosive events, continuing ash emissions, and fluctuating lava lake activity within an open vent that has now grown to more than 430 feet wide.  Patrick will present an overview of this ongoing summit eruption and its current status.

Tracking Kīlauea’s ongoing eruptions will be the topic of Patrick’s second presentation, which will be at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo on Thursday, January 12, at 7:00 p.m.  This talk is free and open to the public.  It will be held in the University Classroom Building, Room 100, on the UH–Hilo main campus, 200 W. Kawili Street, in Hilo. A map of the campus is available online.

In addition to the summit eruption that began in March 2008, Kīlauea has been erupting essentially nonstop for the past 29 years at vents along the volcano’s east rift zone.  During those years, the volcanic activity has included erupting fissures, spectacular lava fountains, and numerous flows of ‘a‘ā and pāhoehoe lava.  Patrick will review these significant events and will describe how USGS scientists track Hawai‘i’s volcanic activity.

For more information about Patrick’s presentations, other Volcano Awareness Month programs, and HVO Centennial events, please visit the HVO website or call (808) 967-8844.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park January 2012 Hawaiian Cultural & After Dark in the Park Programs

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture and After Dark in the Park programs with the community and visitors throughout January – which is also Volcano Awareness Month. These programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Courtesy USGS)

Kīlauea Volcano’s East Rift Eruption: 29 Years and Counting. Jan. 3, 2012 marks the 29th anniversary of Kīlauea’s ongoing east rift zone eruption. During its first three years, spectacular lava fountains spewed episodically from the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent. Since then, nearly continuous lava effusion has built a vast plain that stretches from the east rift to the sea. This past year has seen many changes, including fissure eruptions and the collapse and refilling of the vent’s lava lake. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Geologist Tim Orr will review highlights from the past 29 years and discuss recent developments on Kīlauea’s east rift zone. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

When: Tues., Jan. 3 at 7 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Courtesy USGS)

What’s Happening in Halema‘uma‘u Crater? In March 2008, a new volcanic vent opened in Halema‘uma‘u, at the summit of Kīlauea. Since then, the eruption has consisted of continuous degassing, occasional explosive events, ongoing ash emissions, and fluctuating lava pond activity in an open vent that has grown to more than 430 feet wide. While the eruption enthralls visitors, it also provides an abundance of data and insights for scientists. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Matt Patrick will present an overview of Kīlauea’s summit eruption. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

When: Tues., Jan. 10 at 7 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Courtesy USGS)

Story of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s First 100 Years. In 2012, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) reaches its centennial milestone – 100 years of continuous volcano monitoring in Hawai‘i. Join HVO Scientist-in-Charge Jim Kauahikaua as he talks about Thomas Jaggar’s vision for the observatory, how Frank Perret began the work of monitoring Kīlauea Volcano, and HVO’s accomplishments during the past century. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

When: Tues., Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

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Construction Begins on Crater Rim Drive in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

A series of projects to reconstruct park roads will begin on Mon., July 11 at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Work will start on Crater Rim Drive at Jaggar Museum and work back to the park entrance at Highway 11. Parking lots at Jaggar Museum, Steam Vents, Kīlauea Visitor Center and Volcano House are also targeted to receive improved surfaces. One lane of traffic will remain open with 15-minute delays anticipated Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Simultaneously, pavement reconstruction will also occur on the first two miles of Mauna Loa Road, including roadways within Tree Molds and Kipukapuaulu picnic area. The construction project was awarded to Jas. W Glover, Ltd. of Hilo.

Crater Rim

Superintendent Cindy Orlando stated her appreciation for driver patience adding, “A lot of noise from heavy equipment is expected yet we wanted to be sure to time these projects to avoid interfering with the nesting schedule of the endangered Nēnē. Visitors are advised to be mindful of slow-moving equipment on the roads and to use caution. Safety is of the highest priority to us.”

Roads included in pavement preservation projects include Mauna Loa Road above Kipukapuaulu, extending about two miles up to the first cattle guard as well as the section of Crater Rim Drive that extends from the park entrance to Thurston Lava Tube (Nāhuku) and all of Chain of Craters Road extending from the Devastation Trail parking area to the coast as well as Hilina Pali Road. These projects are being funded by the Federal Highways Administration and are expected to last 10 months.

Kilauea’s Latest Eruption Has All Eyes on Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Media Release:

Kīlauea volcano’s new eruption site, which suddenly cracked open on Sat., Mar., 5, continues to spew lava through fissures on its east rift zone, following the dramatic collapse of Pu’u ō’ō crater’s floor.

Image Courtesy of Hawaii Volcano Observatory http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov (Click Picture for larger view)

Fiery curtains of orange lava some as high as 80 feet have been captured on video and in photographs the last few days, shooting up from fissures that extend more than a mile between Nāpau and Pu’u ō’ō craters. The eruption is in a remote area of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and is not accessible to the public.

Image Courtesy of Hawaii Volcano Observatory http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov (Click Picture for larger view)

While the park and most of its popular overlooks remain open, HVNP has closed Chain of Craters Road, all east rift and coastal trails, and Kulanaokuaiki Campground for public safety. Park rangers are sharing the latest real-time videos, photos and information at Kīlauea Visitors Center and Jaggar Museum, much to the delight of visitors to Hawai’i’s largest national park.

Image Courtesy of Hawaii Volcano Observatory http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov (Click Picture for larger view)

The Federal Aviation Administration reduced the temporary flight restriction (TFR) above the newly active fissure area on Mon., Mar. 7, making it easier for flight-seeing passengers to get a bird’s eye view of the molten lava from 1,500 feet above.

Residents in neighboring towns like Mountain View reported seeing a reflective red glow from the lava in the clouds on Sunday night.

Image Courtesy of Hawaii Volcano Observatory http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov (Click Picture for larger view)

“It’s definitely an exciting time to visit Hawai’i Island and our World Heritage Site. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park has always been a must-see experience for visitors,” said George Applegate, Executive Director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau. “It’s a perfectly safe experience to enjoy our changing volcanic action if visitors heed Park and Civil Defense officials,” he said.

Image Courtesy of Hawaii Volcano Observatory http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov (Click Picture for larger view)

Pu’u ō’ō is not the only crater on Kīlauea to “bottom out” recently. At Halema’uma’u crater, the previously rising lava lake within the vent suddenly dropped over the weekend. A brilliant red glow is sometimes visible after dark, and rocks continue to cascade down crater walls, creating occasional-to-frequent loud rumblings audible from the overlook at Jaggar Museum.

“Park visitors are very happy,” said HVNP Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “There’s a steady stream of cars coming in, and they absolutely love the real-time action our rangers are sharing with them.”

Image Courtesy of Hawaii Volcano Observatory http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov (Click Picture for larger view)

Orlando said that park visitation is up, but that it’s difficult to attribute the increase to one specific source, such as the recent volcanic events, an improving economy, or the start of a vigorous Spring Break season.

Outside of HVNP boundaries and down near sea level at the County of Hawai’i’s Kalapana Lava Viewing Area, the flow has temporarily halted its march across the surface towards the ocean. On the evening of Sat., Mar. 5, molten lava was very visible on the pali (cliffs) and coastal plain, tantalizing onlookers as it disappeared and reappeared through an underground network of lava tubes. County officials reported there was very little if any molten lava visible from Kalapana on Sunday and Monday. However, a significant red glow from the new fissure activity was illuminating the clouds after dark.

Image Courtesy of Hawaii Volcano Observatory http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov (Click Picture for larger view)

Conditions near the viewing area can change at any time depending on the direction and volume of the lava flows. That’s part of the thrill – this isn’t Disneyland. The area will be closed if visitors’ safety is ever in doubt. When conditions are right, the popular Kalapana viewing area boasts not only stunning vistas of the planet birthing, but also convenient parking and port-a-potties. And admission is free.

Currently, viewing and parking hours at the Kalapana overlook are 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Visitors must be parked by 8 p.m.

Image Courtesy of Hawaii Volcano Observatory http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov (Click Picture for larger view)

For the latest conditions at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, visit www.nps.gov/havo or call (808) 985-6000. The latest information for the County of Hawai’i Kalapana viewing area is available on the Lava Hotline: (808) 961-8093. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s Kīlauea status updates can be found at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/activity/kilaueastatus.php and live webcams at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/cams/.

Mainland Media Folks Experience Rare Occurrence at the Volcano

For the next few days a group of mainland journalists and bloggers are having the opportunity to do a few FREE or cheap things on the Big Island.

Today started off with a scavenger hunt at the Hilo’s Farmer’s Market where each of them were given $10.00 and were sent off to find food for lunch for everyone to make a picnic out of.

The highlight of today was being able to see the volcano here on the Big Island from both the top where the Halema’uma’u Crater is… to the bottom of the flow in Kalapana.

What they didn’t know was that they were going to be treated to a rare occurrence where the entire floor of Pu’u O’o collapsed into the crater.  Andrew Cooper, author  of the blog A Darker View,  wrote in his post today “Kilauea is up to Something“:

This afternoon the entire floor of Pu’u O’o has collapsed into incadescent rubble. For the last few months the crater at Pu’u O’o has hosted a lava floor that occasionally floods. This had formed a solid crust hundreds of meters across with spatter cones and small fresh lava flows across the floor. This has now completely collapsed. At the same time the rift has experienced a large number of small, mostly magnitude 2 earthquakes. At he same time there was rapid deflation at the summit caldera and at Pu’u O’o. Where has the lava gone?…

Well when I talked to Jessica Ferracane of Irondog Communications, she stated that the folks did in fact hear something happening at the time and it was quite spectacular!  Ferracane posted on her facebook account the following account:

Is listening to Halemaumau Crater boom and gasp as rocks fall into Pele’s home.  Amazing!

I met up with the mainland media folks in Pahoa and then we cruised down to Kalapana to see what was going on down there.

They were fortunate in that they got to go to a house down there on the lava flow and were treated to a spectacular view of the flow from there while remaining in a safe atmosphere.

As the sun went down… we could begin to see the orange glow of the lava making it’s way down the hillside.

Once the sun was completely down… you could see a nice flow from the top of the mountain down to the bottom of the hill.

It was a great day and evening for the mainland folks and they were treated to the award winning Kaleo’s Restaurant in Pahoa for dinner.

The media folks will be heading over to the other side of the island in the next few days to see some of the cheap and free things to do on that side of the island… it was great to meet them and I look forward to reading their media write ups on the Big Island when they return home.

Media Release:

Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater floor collapse followed by middle east rift zone eruption

USGS Image of Pu'u 'O'o Floor Collapse

At 1:42 p.m. HST this afternoon, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) monitoring network detected the onset of rapid deflation at Pu‘u ‘O‘o and increased tremor along Kilauea Volcano’s middle east rift zone.  At 2:00 p.m., Kilauea’s summit also began to deflate.

Between 2:16 and 2:21 p.m., the floor of the Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater began to collapse, and within 10 minutes, incandescent ring fractures opened on the crater floor a few tens of meters away from the crater wall. As the floor continued to drop, lava appeared in the center of the crater floor, the northeast spatter cone within Pu‘u ‘O‘o collapsed, and an obvious scarp developed on the west side of the crater floor, with lava cascading over the scarp toward the center of the crater.

At 2:41 p.m., the scarp on the west side of the crater floor appeared to disintegrate, exposing incandescent rubble.  Five minutes later, the collapse of a large block along the east crater wall produced a dust plume.

Webcam images showed that the Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater floor continued to drop through 4:26 p.m., when fume obscured the camera view.  HVO Webcam images can be accessed at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/cams/.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hl6bI5JOLBA]

Coincident with the collapse in Pu‘u ‘O‘o, an earthquake swarm began along Kilauea’s middle east rift zone in the area of Maka`opuhi and Napau Craters.  Tiltmeters showed east rift zone deflation, which continues as of this writing.

At 5:15 p.m., an HVO geologist flying over Kilauea’s middle east zone reported “an eruption in Napau Crater.”  The eruption is now known to be located between Napau Crater and Pu‘u ‘O‘o.

Updates on the status of this eruption will be posted on HVO’s Web site at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/activity/kilaueastatus.php.

According to Jim Kauahikaua, HVO’s Scientist-in-Charge, “This event is remarkably similar to a 1997 eruption in and near Napau Crater, which lasted less than 24 hours.”

Kilauea’s summit also continues to deflate, and the lava lake level within the Halema‘uma‘u Crater vent continues to drop, facilitating rockfalls from the vent wall.

In response to the current volcanic conditions, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has closed the Chain of Craters Road and all east rift zone and coastal trails, along with the Kulanaokuaiki campground, until further notice.

Daily updates about Kilauea’s ongoing eruptions, recent images and videos of summit and east rift zone volcanic activity, and data about recent earthquakes are posted on the HVO Web site at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

The USGS provides science for a changing world. For more information, visit www.usgs.gov.

Swimming Next to Molten Lava on the Big Island

Well it looks like someone decided to go for a swim with Pele!  What a crazy person!

While watching Hawaiian lava pour into the Pacific, a dispute erupted with regards to whether the water around the lavafall would be hot. M decided to find out.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l7Iwp861O0]

3.5 Earthquake Hits Kilauea Summit

This report supersedes any earlier reports of this event.
This is a computer-generated message. This event has not yet been reviewed by a seismologist.

A minor earthquake occurred at 3:55:27 PM (HST) on Saturday, May 30, 2009 .
The magnitude 3.5 event occurred 9 km (5 miles) SW of Kilauea Summit.
The hypocentral depth is 26 km (16 miles).


Magnitude 3.5 – duration magnitude (Md)
Time Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 3:55:27 PM (HST)
Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 1:55:27 (UTC)
Distance from Kilauea Summit – 9 km (5 miles) SW (215 degrees)
Volcano – 12 km (8 miles) SW (226 degrees)
Ka`ena Point – 21 km (13 miles) WNW (293 degrees)
Hilo – 48 km (30 miles) SSW (210 degrees)
Coordinates 19 deg. 21.2 min. N (19.353N), 155 deg. 19.4 min. W (155.323W)
Depth 25.5 km (15.8 miles)
Quality Excellent
Location Quality Parameters Nst=053, Nph=053, Dmin=4 km, Rmss=0.13 sec, Erho=0.6 km, Erzz=0.8 km, Gp=46.8 degrees
Event ID# hv00034187

National Geographic – On Kilauea’s Violent Side

Hawaii’s tourist-friendly Kilauea volcano is famous for its lazy rivers of lava (Kilauea volcano lava pictures).

But a new report says the volcano, known as the world’s most active, has a violent alter ego.

The coastal volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii is capable of much stronger eruptions than previously thought, according to the study.

“It turns out that the volcano—known for being this nice, gentle volcano [where] you can walk up to lava flows just wearing flip-flops—has a very dangerous side,” said study co-author Tim Rose, a volcanologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Kilauea’s violent side was revealed by a layer of tephra—volcanic ash and rocks—extending many miles from the volcano.

The tephra, the scientists determined, erupted some time between 1,000 and 1,600 years ago, when it apparently was blasted high enough into the air that today it would be a hazard to passenger jets.

“It threw golf ball-size rocks out to a distance of about 16 or 17 kilometers [10 to 11 miles],” said Donald Swanson, a volcanologist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, who was also involved in the study, published in the May/June issue of the Geological Society of America Bulletin.