Sunday, June 20, 2010

Surface lava now visible on pali edge

(Click on the image to open a larger view window)

The photo above was taken last night 600-feet further southwest up the road from the Hawaii County visitors parking area near the terminus of highway 130. Looking west-northwest, this image was taken at 10 PM with a 70mm lens and shows the surface lava reflecting into low clouds across the top edge of the pali above the old Royal Gardens subdivision as well as some bright orbs of A`a on the surface at about the 1800-foot elevation. No longer can we see any reflective glow from the Pu`u O`o because, according to USGS/HVO reports, the lava pond within the crater subsided during the recent DI deflation event.

After nightfall, visitors were able to see this pali glow as they walked southwest down the road from the parking lot to where the road is elevated a bit and clear of roadside trees. As is often the case, we had a few light rain showers waft through but most of the evening was a beautiful starry night along this part of the coast.

This surface lava is being fed by lava tubes from the TEB eruption site far above the edge of the pali where the lava is resurfacing as A`a and pahoehoe breakouts.

There are no active lava breakouts on coastal flats and no ocean entry lava at this time.

I will update these blog postings next when there are some significant changes or newsworthy reports to offer you :)

Active lava viewing prospects for the public:
1) The Halema’uma’u crater has been degassing sulfur dioxide fumes by day and glowing strongly at times after dark from lava deep within the craters pit vent. The broiling molten lava moves up and down inside this massive eruptive vent by hundreds of feet at times, in kind of a pistoning action. This raising and lowering of lava has the potential to breach the floor of the crater and likely will do so in the future. Great views of this impressive crater are from the Jaggar Museum balcony within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, depending on the weather; and the park is open to the public 24 hours a day with a nominal entrance fee by day.

2) Coastal viewing: A one mile walk to the very end of highway 130; this is the same location where lava came onto the highway there on May 5th, 2010 but the lava there has now cooled, though is still hot a short distance away. The lava fuming/degassing can be seen coming down the distant pali during the day. After dark lava glow can possibly be seen in two or three places high atop the mountain slopes.

Official viewing hours are from 2:00 PM until around 9/9:30 PM - everyday, with last car allowed in at 8:00 PM. On site are security personnel, a few port-o-potties at both the parking lot and at the end of the road, vendors occasionally have drinking water and flashlights but it is best to bring both these things with you and also some decent walking shoes. The road is open to all traffic on all other hours.


  1. Hello Leigh

    Great Blog !

    We were in the area last Wednesday and saw the glow in the mountains but no lava break outs nearby. Someone told us though that they went further into the area along the gravel road leading from the parking area and have seen some break outs whether this is true or not.

    By the way, all those houses near the viewing area...Have they been built on lava or the lava has appeared after they have been built ? If so, has there been any damage to the dwellings ? How do people still find courage to live in the area ?


    Sydney, Australia

  2. Along the coastal flats and shoreline there have been no active lava breakouts for a couple of weeks, perhaps the person telling you they saw some were referring to earlier breakouts or some hot spots cracks.

    The houses you saw along the end of highway 130 were built in recent years on top of long cooled lava. That area was last actively flowing with lava in 1992 when many homes were destroyed. The Quarry flow of surface lava we just had come through, which is still very hot in places, was the most recent threat to these same homes when the lava breached easterly down onto highway 130 on May 5th, 2010, but soon after stalled.

    I know many of the people living in that area and they all like the location and are well aware of the precarious proximity to the active flow fields. Most have solar and/or wind powered electrical systems, rain catchment water and nice little gardens.