Thursday, July 29, 2010

~ 2010 Kalapana Gardens lava flow has classic historic signature of 1990 flow – A comparison overlook ~

(Click on images for the larger view size)

Beginning with the two images above, I think it is time to take a look back in recent history for the Kalapana Gardens area; specifically the last time lava flowed through there. By doing so we may see some remarkable similarities to the present April 2010 through July 2010 Quarry flow, which continues right now — and comparing it’s advancement to the devastating 1990 Kalapana Gardens flow, which also made it first appearance virtually at the exact same location: the old Quarry along highway 130; the original Quarry flow of February 1990 (USGS aerial photo with my notes below)

(Above)These USGS aerials with my notes, posted in my blog May 7th show us the location of the lava near the junction of Kaimu-Chain of Craters Road (erroneously called 130, which begins further east in Kaimu, and now referred to as the Kalapana (Gardens) access road), and old Kalapana-Kapoho Beach Road (137 or more locally known as the Red Road; named so because of its red color (the road crews at the time were short on asphalt or something and used mostly red lava cinder as a filler, repaved black in 1998-2000 but still called the Red Road… But I sidetrack …)

Although surrounding coastal communities other than Kalapana Gardens were also affected by lava flows during the same period, and for the previous three years, for this historical comparison I will focus on only this one community: Kalapana Gardens:

The first loss of occupied land and homes was brief and hard on December 19th, 1986 (14 homes burned in one day) and lava sporadically returned to adjacent slopes, communities and shorelines until Pele’s final massive thrust through the beautiful community in the first six months of 1990 – decimating Kalapana Gardens.

As these 1990 USGS aerial images above clearly show, the south-southeast edge of the 1990 flow followed the inland contours of the Hakuma horst fault; the high cliffs along the fault blocked the advancing lava from entering the sea… Exactly as we are witnessing now with the present lava flow that has backed up behind the escarpment, forcing the molten lava to swell vertically as it also spreads out in all directions. It was this combination that pushed the lava, helped also by major inflation, further east towards the western borders of the present day Kalapana Gardens, destroying one home (Gary Sleik’s) July 25th this past week, and threatening two others today. Some lava is now spilling over the Hakuma horst fault in three places (one next to Fox’s Landing right now), but this spilling is not the same as the draining of, or the releasing of lava that remains contained super-heated and under thick insulating layers backed up behind it.
So… are we in for a repeat of 1990-like events? Presently we are. No one can predict what Pele’s moods may dictate, but so far this present lava flow nudging once again into Kalapana Gardens has all the signatures of 1990. One large inflationary episode in the next week (inflating as I type )could easily push the entire superheated coastal plain both higher up and out in all directions – or completely stagnate and never flow there again for a hundred years or more—such are the ways of Pele it seems…
BUT… Brush fires and molten lava are at this moment advancing very close to one of the only long-standing Hawaiian family homes to have survived that 1990 flow; a home right there in the lush and forested Hakuma horst fault; more on that story in the days ahead …
Resource Materials: For further information on the historical timelines, descriptions and photographs of the very destructive series of lava flows to slowly decimate Kalapana Gardens, as well as the earlier and later flows, check out this comprehensive USGS Pu‘u ‘O‘o–Kupaianaha Eruption, 1983–1997 Album

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much Leigh for taking the time to explain it so wonderfully well!