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Public, Private Agencies Convene to Discuss Lava, Emergency Housing

More than 45 of Hawaii Island’s top officials in government, business, construction, academia and the non-profit sector gathered last week in Hilo to discuss the Puna lava situation and its effects on the island’s housing market.
Lava Housing

The emergency housing forum, hosted by HOPE Services Hawaii, Hawaii Island Realtors, the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and Day Lum Rentals & Management, included roundtable discussions that focused on short- and long-term housing planning, legislative policy and expanding community resources.

The November 24 forum was intended as the beginning of a larger conversation focused on building more affordable housing on Hawaii Island. An action plan that outlines next steps and leverages private and public partnerships is being created by the forum’s hosts and expected to be complete by first quarter 2015. The plan will identify short and long-term solutions, which will help inform possible legislative policies and provide the basis for maximizing community resources.

During the forum, agency heads discussed what organizations are experiencing as a result of the lava breakout, which started in late June and has travelled 13.5 miles since. Some presented ideas to alleviate the demand for housing outside of Puna, noting, however, that today’s quick fixes should complement the island’s long-term housing and development plans.

“No one is pretending to have all the answers,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “There’s no lava flow manual, so many policy decisions are being made with the best information available. What we’re facing as a community is significant, but the challenges are not insurmountable. The County has been and will continue to be all hands on deck, ready to collaborate, and to share information as it becomes available to lessen anxiety and uncertainty.”

Brandee Menino, chief executive officer for HOPE Services Hawaii, said that while HOPE primarily helps homeless and at-risk individuals and families transition off the streets and obtain stable housing, her office has been getting calls from families displaced by Tropical Storm Iselle and potentially isolated by the lava. She noted that even before this year’s natural disasters, the need for rental units had been identified.

“A 2011 Housing Planning Study prepared for the Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation revealed that Hawaii County would need 1,753 rental units by 2016 in order to meet the growing demand for housing,” said Menino. “This report was done in 2011, when lava was not a concern, so we must make a concerted effort to prioritize creating more affordable housing opportunities for Hawaii’s families.”

Paul Normann, executive director of the Neighborhood Place of Puna (NPP), a resource for distressed families, said Puna has the highest rate of child abuse and neglect in the State. “Because of the disruption caused by Iselle and the active lava flow, NPP has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families seeking assistance. In the first four months of the current fiscal year, July through October, NPP has already served 106 families. To put that in context, over the course of the entire 12 months of the previous fiscal year, NPP served a total of 130 families.

Nancy Cabral of Day-Lum said that some families wanted to get ahead of the lava and moved from the area. But Cabral is concerned with who haven’t. “There are a lot of residents who have not been preparing for what’s coming. It seems they are waiting for government to step in and rescue them, so we really need to take steps to ready the housing market.”

Cabral offered solutions to stave off a potential housing crisis including working with hotels to temporarily rent out rooms, helping families uproot and move homes to vacant lots and lobbying the State to relinquish control to the County of affordable units such as Lanakila Housing, which can move faster to make the units available to those looking to relocate from Puna.

Mark Kimura, an economic geography researcher at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who conducted an informal survey of Puna residents, said almost half reported they had no one to rely on or place to go if they needed to move. 14 percent said they have already left the area or are preparing to leave and 25 percent said they could move-in with family or friends on-island. He said many don’t want to give up their homes because they are still paying a mortgage, have farms, can’t afford to move and have difficulty finding places that are pet-friendly or retrofitted for people with disabilities.

Amanda Donaldson, President of NARPM’s East Hawaii chapter, which is made up of about 20 local residential property managers, said members get nearly a dozen additional calls a day from families looking for housing outside the lava zone. She said NARPM agents are willing to add addendums that allow individuals in the lava impact zone to break their lease once lava hits.

Kehau Costa of Hawaii Island Realtors championed a “one-stop-shop” rentals website where interested renters can view available units on the island, which would speed up house hunting. Costa also suggested a “new landlord resource fair” because of the increasing number of individuals asking how they can convert part of or their entire home into a rental.

Additional ideas that came out of the forum include exploring commuter housing, house sharing, prepping lands for modular housing, fast tracking County building permit processes as well as County take over, repair and rental of foreclosure homes.

Any individuals or organizations interested in taking part in future discussions may contact Brandee Menino at bmenino@hopeserviceshawaii.org or (808) 933-6013.

Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory Update – Kahaualeʻa 2 Flow Still Active in Forest Northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō

The Kahaualeʻa 2 flow remains active, and continues to slowly expand into the forest northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

 The photo shows the main area of vegetation fires, along the north margin of the flow. Mauna Loa can be seen in the distance in the upper right.  (Click to Enlarge)

The photo shows the main area of vegetation fires, along the north margin of the flow. Mauna Loa can be seen in the distance in the upper right. (Click to Enlarge)

The flow front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow has cut a narrow swath through forest northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. The narrow lobe at the front is now inactive, with the main area of surface flows about 2km (1.2 miles) behind the end of this lobe.

Some of these surface flows are slowly expanding northward into the forest, creating vegetation fires. Puʻu ʻŌʻō is in the upper left.

Some of these surface flows are slowly expanding northward into the forest, creating vegetation fires. Puʻu ʻŌʻō is in the upper left.  Click to Enlarge

An equivalent thermal image:

hvo39

This thermal image shows the front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. A narrow lobe at the very front is now inactive (evident by the slightly lower surface temperatures), while the main area of active surface flows (shown by white areas) are farther back from this leading edge. Click to Enlarge

This photo looks southwest, and shows Puʻu ʻŌʻō. The northeast spatter cone on the east rim of the crater is near the center of the photo, and is the vent area for the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow.

 The lava tube feeding the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow extends from the northeast spatter cone down the north flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, in a direct line towards the lower right corner of the photo.   Click to Enlarge

The lava tube feeding the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow extends from the northeast spatter cone down the north flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, in a direct line towards the lower right corner of the photo. Click to Enlarge

The thermal image below is an equivalent view, and highlights the lava tube well.

This thermal image shows Puʻu ʻŌʻō (see visual photograph at left for equivalent view). Recently, the southeast and northeast spatter cones have produced small overflows out of the crater, shown clearly here by their warm temperatures. The vent for the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow is at the northeast spatter cone, and the lava tube supplying the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow is obvious as the line of elevated temperatures extending to the lower right corner of the image.  Click to Enlarge

This thermal image shows Puʻu ʻŌʻō (see visual photograph at left for equivalent view). Recently, the southeast and northeast spatter cones have produced small overflows out of the crater, shown clearly here by their warm temperatures. The vent for the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow is at the northeast spatter cone, and the lava tube supplying the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow is obvious as the line of elevated temperatures extending to the lower right corner of the image. Click to Enlarge

It was remarkably clear during Wednesday’s overflight of Kīlauea’s east rift zone. This photo is taken from Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and looks northwest. Mauna Kea is at the right, and Mauna Loa is at the left.

 In front of the summit of Mauna Loa, the degassing plume from the lava lake at Kīlauea's summit is rising vertically.  Click to Enlarge

In front of the summit of Mauna Loa, the degassing plume from the lava lake at Kīlauea’s summit is rising vertically. Click to Enlarge

Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory Update

No activity was observed on the Peace Day flow on today’s overflight, meaning that the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow is now the sole active flow.

The Kahaualeʻa 2 flow today had reached 6.4 km (4.0 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and was burning vegetation around the forest boundary.

The Kahaualeʻa 2 flow today had reached 6.4 km (4.0 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and was burning vegetation around the forest boundary.

Much of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow has traveled over ʻaʻā from Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s early activity in the 1980s.

This photo shows a lobe of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow advancing over a section of this older ʻaʻā, burning moss and small trees that have grown on the ʻaʻā clinker.

This photo shows a lobe of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow advancing over a section of this older ʻaʻā, burning moss and small trees that have grown on the ʻaʻā clinker.

Active pāhoehoe breakouts are scattered across portions of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow.

This photo shows a nice example of ropy pāhoehoe active near the flow margin.

This photo shows a nice example of ropy pāhoehoe active near the flow margin.

Very few surface flows have been observed in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater over the past month, but the crater today was far from quiet.

The spatter cone shown here, in the northern portion of the crater, was producing a loud, continuous jetting sound resulting from gas being forced through a tiny opening at the peak.

The spatter cone shown here, in the northern portion of the crater, was producing a loud, continuous jetting sound resulting from gas being forced through a tiny opening at the peak.

 

Hawaii Volcano Observatory Report – Kupapaʻu Point Ocean Entry Weak, But Still Active

Using a telephoto camera lens, an HVO scientist captured this view of the Kupapaʻu Point ocean entry on the morning of August 7.

HVO12

Although no lava flow activity was observed on the coastal plain near the ocean entry, small streams of lava still poured into the sea.

Zooming his camera in even more…. An up-close view of the easternmost lava streams entering the ocean.

hvo13

Reminder to all lava observers: Peering through a telephoto lens is the safest way to view Kīlauea Volcano’s ocean entry.

 

 

Kahaualeʻa 2 Flow Still Expanding North of Puʻu ʻŌʻō – Ocean Entries Remain Active

Hawaii Volcano Observatory Report, 6/28/2013:

The Kahaualeʻa 2 flow remains active north of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and has expanded a very minor amount into the forest, burning trees.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The flow, which consists of slowly moving pāhoehoe, has widened but advanced little over the past two weeks.

A wider view of a portion of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow margin at the forest boundary.

A wider view of a portion of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow margin at the forest boundary.

The Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, which is active north of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, is fed from a vent at this cone on the northeast rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Small openings at the top of the cone contain sloshing lava, and two skylights at the very start of the Kahaualeʻa 2 lava tube provided views of a swiftly moving lava stream rushing downslope.

This thermal image shows the eastern ocean entry at Kupapaʻu Point.

Photos courtesy of Hawaii Volcano Observatory

Photos courtesy of Hawaii Volcano Observatory

Just inland from the entry point a patch of slightly warmer temperatures indicates an area of recent small breakouts. Inland from this warm patch you can see a narrow line of elevated temperatures that traces the path of the lava tube beneath the surface that is supplying lava to this ocean entry. Two plumes of high temperature water spread out from the entry point.

 

 

USGS Report – Lava Flows Near Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Ocean Entry Continues

Two ocean entry points remain active near Kupapaʻu Point, near the boundary of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

USGS Photo

USGS Photo

The eastern entry has produced a larger plume than that at the western entry, which tends to be weak and wispy. Today several small breakouts were active just inland of the eastern entry point, creating a narrow cascade of lava pouring down the sea cliff.

This photo looks south towards Puʻu ʻŌʻō, where a vent is supplying lava to the Kahaualeʻa II flow, north of the cone.

USGS Photo

USGS Photo

This slow-moving flow has reached the forest line, producing small scattered brush fires.

A close-up of the Kahaualeʻa II flow burning vegetation at the forest line, just north of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

USGS Photo

USGS Photo

The flow consists of numerous slow-moving pāhoehoe lobes.

The summit eruption in Halemaʻumaʻu crater remains active.

USGS Photo

USGS Photo

The lava lake is within the Overlook crater (the source of the gas plume), which is in the southeast portion of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

 

Update on Body Found in Ocean Near Lava Flow Entry

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating the discovery of a body in waters off Kalapana in the Puna district.

Photo courtesy of Lava Ocean Adventures

Photo courtesy of Lava Ocean Adventures

At 6:28 a.m. Tuesday (May 28), personnel from the Hawaiʻi Police Department and Hawaiʻi Fire Department responded to a report of a body caught in a fishing line from a nearby fishing boat in the ocean off one of the lava viewing areas. Another vessel in the area contacted authorities and remained with the body until divers from the Fire Department and their helicopter recovered the remains and met with police at a temporary landing zone.

Detectives from the Area 1 Criminal Investigations Section responded to the location and are continuing the investigation, which is classified as a coroners inquest.

The body is that of a Caucasian female possibly in her late 20s or early 30s, about 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-8 with a slim build, short brown hair and a tattoo of “Veritas” on her lower back. Detectives are reviewing recent missing persons records in an attempt to identify the female.

Police have not ruled out foul play. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday morning to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask that anyone who may know the female or have information on this case contact Detective Robert Almeida at 961-2386or ralmeda@co.hawaii.hi.us or Detective Fetuutuunai Amuimuia at 961-2278 or famuimuia@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Lava Flows Heading North of Puʻu ʻŌʻō – Continued Activity in Puʻu ʻŌʻō Crater

The Kahauale`a II flow began as a breakout on the east rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater on May 6, and has advanced northward towards the forest.

Photo: Hawaii Volcano Observatory

Photo: Hawaii Volcano Observatory

Friday, May 24th, slowly moving pāhoehoe lobes (light colored flows in this image) were burning moss and lichen on older Puʻu ʻŌʻō ʻaʻā flows and approaching the forest boundary. Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone is obscured by thick clouds in this photo.

HVO geologists use a laser rangefinder to measure the height of the shield and cone built up around the northeast lava lake, on the east rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater. The peak of the cone is now about 18 m (60 ft) above the former crater rim.

HVO geologists use a laser rangefinder to measure the height of the shield and cone built up around the northeast lava lake, on the east rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater. The peak of the cone is now about 18 m (60 ft) above the former crater rim.

The spatter cone near the north rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater continues to produce pulsating gas jetting sounds. Compare this photo to one taken of the same cone on May 2 to see how much taller the cone has grown.

 

Photo: Hawaii Volcano Observatory

Photo: Hawaii Volcano Observatory

The small lava lake on the northeast rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater has been built into a small cone, with only a few small openings at the top. One of these small openings had sloshing lava near the surface.

Photo: Hawaii Volcano Observatory

Photo: Hawaii Volcano Observatory

Why did the lava tube cross the road? This image shows the Peace Day lava tube coming down the pali in Royal Gardens subdivision. The lava tube parallels Ali`i avenue, shown by the straight line of warm temperatures that represent asphalt heated in the sun. At the intersection of Ali`i avenue and Paradise street, the lava tube makes a sharp turn west and crosses the intersection, and then turns sharply again downslope (towards the right side of the image).

 

This tube feeds lava to the ocean entry and breakouts on the coastal plain. There is no active lava on the surface in this image - the warm surface temperatures are due to heating by the underlying lava tube. Thermal images such as this help HVO geologists map the lava tube system.

This tube feeds lava to the ocean entry and breakouts on the coastal plain. There is no active lava on the surface in this image – the warm surface temperatures are due to heating by the underlying lava tube. Thermal images such as this help HVO geologists map the lava tube system.

 

 

Lava Continues to Enter the Ocean at Kupapa`u Point – Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Report

After a 12 km (7.5 mile) journey from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone through a lava tube, lava pours into the ocean in narrow streams at one of the eastern entry points.

HVO5

Another entry point has two larger lava streams entering the water. The lava fragments due to cooling and disruption by the battering surf, and some of these pieces float on the water’s surface in front of the entry point (see lower left portion of photo).

HVO6

Over the past week this spatter cone on the floor of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater has been the source of several large, but brief, lava flows on the crater floor. Today, the cone was producing pulsating gas jetting sounds.

HVO7

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Update – Kahaualeʻa Flow Front Stalls, New Overflow in Puʻu ʻŌʻō

Breakouts have diminished over the past few days on the Kahaualeʻa flow (heading northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō), and the flow front has not advanced significantly since April 8.

Compare Saturday’s thermal image with that from the April 8 overflight. 

Thermal Image

During Saturday’s flight, there were no active breakouts at the flow front.

Breakouts have diminished over the past few days on the Kahaualeʻa flow (heading northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō), and the flow front has not advanced significantly since April 8. Compare today’s thermal image with that from the April 8 overflight. During Saturday’s flight, there were no active breakouts at the flow front.

A vigorous flow was erupted on the floor of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater starting early this morning from a cone near the north rim, but a smaller flow was also erupted from a spatter cone near the south rim around noon. This photo captures a burst of spatter from the southern cone as the small flow was erupted.

Lava Flow 2

Lava erupted this morning from the cone near the north rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater, with a small portion of the flow emptying out onto the east spillway. This new flow brings the floor of the crater slightly closer to the north crater rim.

Lava Flow 3

This short Quicktime movie shows spattering from a cone near the south rim of Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater as a short lava flow is erupted.

 

 

Lava Enters Royal Gardens Subdivision…Jack’s Place in Danger

Paradise Helicopters has reported the following along with posting the following picture on their facebook page.

Sorry to report that lava has entered Royal Gardens subdivision and is within a few hundred yards of Jack’s Place.


After all the times his place has been spared, over all these years, this is the closest it has been. Prayers for Jack. This shot was taken this morning is looking down the remainder of Hoku Ave. Jack’s place is behind the tress on the right not far from the corner of Hoku and Plumeria.

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.

Maurella Meets Pele – Going on a Lava Tour with Kristina Anapau and Lava Ocean Adventure Tours

Local “True Blood” celebrity Kristina Anapau has been back on the Big Island during this holiday season and she has been getting a chance to do more stuff on the island now that she has more then a few days on the island.

Kristina Anapau at the County of Hawaii's Magic of Christmas Celebration

The other day she had the opportunity to go check out the Gemini Astronomy Center up on top of Mauna Kea and today she got invited to go on a lava tour with Lava Ocean Adventures.

Captain Shane and Kristina

We arrived at Isaac Hale park at 5:00 this morning and signed in with Captain Shane Turpin and then we were off for our adventure.

Getting ready for the tour at Isaac Hale Park (Pohoiki)

The newspaper was correct in their statement this morning:

…”Compared to the past two nights, the flow field and ocean entry plume seemed quite inactive yesterday afternoon and overnight,” geologists wrote in their daily activity update, posted Thursday morning. “The webcams picked up no surface activity on the pali, weak, sporadic surface flows near the coast, and a weak ocean entry plume generated by lava entering the ocean at the West Ka’ili’ili lava delta within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.”

The lava flow may be reached by foot from the national park side, by tour helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft, or by one of the tour boats that provide viewing opportunities along the coast

While the lava wasn’t pumping as much as the last time I visited… there were still at least three lava fingers entering the ocean while we were down there.

Pele meets the ocean

One thing about Pele is that you never really know how much lava is going to be flowing into the ocean until you actually get out to the site as the flows can stop and start at anytime.

Picture taken a couple of days ago from Lava Ocean Adventures Facebook page

Captain Shane mentioned that just a few days ago… there was much more lava visible then there was today.

Lava enters the ocean

Here is a video of the flow from last week:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/BvPSv9VjM0c]

Recorded on the south shores of the Island of Hawaii Saturday morning, December 17, 2011. Video shot from a boat without any stabilization can tend to roll around a bit … so I kept it short so you won’t get seasick :)

The volume of surface lava being sent from fissures at Pu`u O`o Crater through insulating tube systems seven miles south to the ocean changes daily, but yesterday I went by boat to witness this. For more information on how to see the lava by boat and to see some of the still images that I took there, go to my Hawaiian Lava Daily blogspot website.

I’d like to thank Captain Shane for taking us out there and providing us with a great seat at the back of the boat where we were allowed to stand up and get an even better view of things.  Mahalo Shane!

To learn more about Lava Ocean Adventure Tours or to book your own tour click here.

 

Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone Eruption: 29 Years and Counting

Jan. 3, 2012 marks the 29th anniversary of Kīlauea’s ongoing east rift zone eruption. This eruption, particularly events that occurred during the past year, will be the topic of an “After Dark in the Park” program in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Tues., Jan. 3.

On Mar. 6, 2011, a spectacular fissure eruption between Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō and Nāpau Crater on Kīlauea’s east rift zone produced lava flows that poured into a pre-existing ground crack and advanced through an ‘ōhi‘a forest. For scale, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists (lower right) can be seen walking toward the flow. USGS photo by Tim Orr

Tim Orr, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, will review the eruption, focusing on highlights from Kīlauea’s 2011 activity. The program begins at 7 p.m. at the park’s Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium. Park entrance fees apply.

The eruption began just after midnight on Jan. 3, 1983, with lava erupting to the surface along several fissures.  By June 1983, the eruption was focused at a single vent. Over the next three years, lava fountains up to 1,500 feet high roared from the vent 44 times, building a cinder-and-spatter cone named Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō.

In July 1986, the eruption shifted to Kupaianaha, a new vent farther down the east rift zone. Lava poured from this vent nearly continuously for almost six years, burning and burying Kīlauea’s south flank, including the communities of Kapa‘ahu and Kalapana, in 1986 and 1990, respectively.

Early in 1992, the eruption returned to vents on the flanks of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō. Over the next 18 years, lava flowed down the slopes of Kīlauea, inundating areas within and outside of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National park and often reaching the sea.

During the past year, Kīlauea’s ongoing east rift zone eruption has included two spectacular fissure eruptions, a dramatic outbreak of lava from the west flank of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, and, on Dec. 9, 2011, a new ocean entry USGS scientists named West Ka‘ili‘ili—the first ocean entry within the boundaries of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park since 2009.

Since the eruption began in 1983, lava flows have buried 48 square miles of public and private land, destroying vast tracts of native forest, nine miles of highway, and 213 structures, including homes, a church, and the Waha‘ula Visitor Center in the park.

While Kīlauea’s current east rift zone eruption has been its most destructive event in recent history, the eruption has also been constructive. Molten lava flowing into the sea has added about 500 acres of
new land to Hawai‘i Island.

This presentation is one of many talks, guided hikes, and other programs offered by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park as part of Hawai‘i Island’s third annual Volcano Awareness Month in January. For more information about this talk, please call 808-985-6011.

For a complete schedule of Volcano Awareness Month events, please visit the HVO Web site at www.hvo.wr.usgs.gov or call (808) 967-8844.

Researchers: “Magma Lies Much Closer to the Surface than Previously Thought”

Media Release:

Ohio State University researchers have found a new way to gauge the depth of the magma chamber that forms the Hawaiian Island volcanic chain, and determined that the magma lies much closer to the surface than previously thought.

The finding could help scientists predict when Hawaiian volcanoes are going to erupt. It also suggests that Hawaii holds great potential for thermal energy.

Julie Ditkof, an honors undergraduate student in earth sciences at Ohio State, described the study at the American Geophysical Union Meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday, December 14.

For her honors thesis, Ditkof took a technique that her advisor Michael Barton, professor of earth sciences, developed to study magma in Iceland, and applied it to Hawaii.


She discovered that magma lies an average of 3 to 4 kilometers (about 1.9 to 2.5 miles) beneath the surface of Hawaii.

“Hawaii was already unique among volcanic systems, because it has such an extensive plumbing system, and the magma that erupts has a unique and variable chemical composition,” Ditkof explained. “Now we know the chamber is at a shallow depth not seen anywhere else in the world.”

For example, Barton determined that magma chambers beneath Iceland lie at an average depth of 20 kilometers.

While that means the crust beneath Hawaii is much thinner than the crust beneath Iceland, Hawaiians have nothing to fear.


“The crust in Hawaii has been solidifying from eruptions for more than 300,000 years now. The crust doesn’t get consumed by the magma chamber. It floats on top,” Ditkof explained.

The results could help settle two scientific debates, however.

Researchers have wondered whether more than one magma chamber was responsible for the varying chemical compositions, even though seismological studies indicated only one chamber was present.

Meanwhile, those same seismological studies pegged the depth as shallow, while petrologic studies – studies of rock composition – pegged it deeper.

There has never been a way to prove who was right, until now.

“We suspected that the depth was actually shallow, but we wanted to confirm or deny all those other studies with hard data,” Barton said.


He and Ditkof determined that there is one large magma chamber just beneath the entire island chain that feeds the Hawaiian volcanoes through many different conduits.

They came to this conclusion after Ditkof analyzed the chemical composition of nearly 1,000 magma samples. From the ratio of some elements to others – aluminum to calcium, for example, or calcium to magnesium – she was able to calculate the pressure at which the magma had crystallized.


For his studies of Iceland, Barton created a methodology for converting those pressure calculations to depth. When Ditkof applied that methodology, she obtained an average depth of 3 to 4 kilometers.

Researchers could use this technique to regularly monitor pressures inside the chamber and make more precise estimates of when eruptions are going to occur.

Barton said that, ultimately, the finding might be more important in terms of energy.

“Hawaii has huge geothermal resources that haven’t been tapped fully,” he said, and quickly added that scientists would have to determine whether tapping that energy was practical – or safe.

“You’d have to drill some test bore holes. That’s dangerous on an active volcano, because then the lava could flow down and wipe out your drilling rig.”

Kalapana Lava Viewing Site Hours to Change

Media Release

The County of Hawaii is adjusting viewing hours at the Kalapana lava viewing site.

Beginning Sunday, February 1, the viewing site will be open daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Cost considerations resulted in the decision to cut three afternoon viewing hours that had the least number of visitors over the past nine months, said County Finance Director Nancy Crawford. Visitor arrivals at the viewing site are lowest until about 5 p.m., and they peak at around 7 p.m., Crawford said.

Visitors must enter the viewing area parking lot before 8 p.m. to allow time to hike to the viewing site and back before 10 p.m.

The lava viewing site was opened to the public on March 8, 2008. Through December, 241,806 people visited the site.

The County’s cost to operate the site, including salaries and wages, supplies, toilets, security, phones and other equipment, amounted to $362,006 for the period July through December 2008.

The viewing site is available at no charge to visitors. A voluntary donation box is located at the trailhead.

Visitors should be aware that conditions can change rapidly and that viewing will be closed should any changes occur that will threaten visitors’ safety. A Lava Hotline is updated daily and confirms whether the lava viewing site will be open that day. The telephone number for the Hotline is (808) 961-8093.