Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Molten lava continues breaking out south of Kalapana Gardens ~ Rains slowed brush fires ~ Gary’s house still stands

Thankfully, Gary’s home remained untouched by lava as of 10:30 AM this morning; creeping lava had come as close to twenty feet of his gardens, which are not far from his house.

Just southwest of Kalapana Gardens, in an area known as Foxes Landing, a large patch of ironwood trees burned along their bases yesterday as molten lava ignited the tinder-dry masses of needles beneath them. By late afternoon the Kalapana Gardens area had heavy rain come in and this continued well into the evening; dousing the fires in the forest and along Gary’s property.

Currently, lava continues advancing slowly along the surface flows most southeasterly front. This advancement is in the form of about six separate lobes of breakout lava. These breakouts have now turned from their previous southeasterly direction to a more southerly direction, which, if it continues, will take the flow straight to the ocean about ¼ mile away. (This field report courtesy of my friend Bo who has a home very near to this lava flow)

Other open flowing lava is on the Pulama Pali and also various locations between there and the flow front. Any of these breakouts could become larger at any time; the photo below is one of those.
(The home in the photo is not Gary's, but another close by.

I will add updates to this report later today if significant events take place with this ongoing surface flow.

Below I have added the previous five days of blog postings so those of you just catching up with this new lava action can scroll down to see how it has been unfolding this week (You can also open any postings from the list on the right side of any blog page):

July 20th lava report:
~ Pele pauses her molten advance - stops just short of threatened home ~

Hot lava and burning trees only 600-feet from Gary's house-- his situation is reported further down here.

Yesterday I hiked the entire perimeter of this lava flow – the flow has stopped advancing and is nowhere near the sea, and will not be unless, or until, it re-energizes from the eruption site near Pu`u O`o. Inflation pressures have returned under the Kilauea Caldera; this started about midday yesterday and continues as of this posting time. If the increased magma pressures remain rising then this will likely re-energize the Pulama Pali and coastal flats surface flows. Where the now stalled flow-front will begin to burst out with lava is an unknown so far but later today, or by tonight, we may see signs of where that might be.

The only home presently threatened by this lava flow: My friend Gary's house in Kalapana Gardens: (Click on any image for a larger view size)
Gary’s home was still spared from advancing lava as of 8:30 AM this morning–…
These photos tell the story of his situation yesterday…

Tonight at the viewing area, which is going to be a barricaded section at the burning end of highway 130, there should continue to be some great views of the forest burning and some areas of lava breakouts, especially visible after dark.
July 19th: ~ Lava close but not to sea ~ Deflation slows advance ~
(Click on any image to view a larger size)

Visitors walk down highway 130 past houses that are very near to the lava flow in Kalapana Gardens on their way to see molten lava and burning forests.

Viewing area along the end of highway 130

USGS D/I-Deflation/Inflation monitors on the caldera are recording deflation for the second straight day. This usually equates on the surface as a loss in pressure, reducing the volume and speed of surface flows. I expect this is why the coastal flats lava flow has slowed way down. In the previous three days this flow was advancing across the coastal plain at a rate of about 1000-feet per day, but currently 1/3 of that rate or less.
The area where the lava may enter the sea later today or tonight is fairly remote and well southwest of any roads or homes. There continues to be a threat of lava coming closer to Kalapana Gardens homes from two sources: from a possible easterly expansion of the present flow, which is currently just west of them now, or from high on the pali where lava continues breaking out along the eastern flow line.

July 18th, 2010 report:
~ Lava flow skirting Kalapana Gardens – One resident lost his access road ~

Real hot land deals in Kalapana Gardens!! ( I don’t mean to diminish the very real threat to these homes or their owners) (4:30 AM this morning looking southwest from highway 130)-- (No this is not Gary’s house that I talk about below - his home is actually much closer to the lava you see burning through the forest in the distance)

My friend Gary did lose the only road to his house early yesterday morning. He moved all his vehicles and possessions out yesterday ahead of the lava. He hikes across a third mile of older lava to get to his house now and is continuing to stay there for now even though lava is advancing toward there. The lava may stay just below and west of his house.

Lava crossing a section of old highway 130 at noon yesterday.

Below are a couple shots from last night at the viewing area:
(click on images for larger size)

This surface flow of lava has been moving fairly fast across the coastal flats; perhaps 1000-feet per day lately. It has gone overtop of a ¼-mile section of the highway 130 and also down a fork in the road towards the sea. The front edge of the lava is plowing through forest just west and below the Kalapana homes that set on slightly higher land nearby.

Above -- Under a moonlit blanket of clouds: looking down the last paved section of highway 130 at 9:00 PM last night, showing a broader view of the entire leading front of this lava flow.

This morning I hiked around the entire lava flow (not easy) and the lava is spread out in several places as it proceeds southeast toward the ocean. There are many brush and tree fires running I all directions ahead of the molten pahoehoe.

Lava could be entering the sea as soon as late tonight or sometime tomorrow.

Well over a thousand people lined the roads end last night to get a rare close up look at an active lava flow. In these photos we see the areas of forest burning as the lava passes through beneath, and where it is crossing the end of the highway.

Tonight at the viewing area, which is going to be a barricaded section at the burning end of highway 130, there should continue to be some great views of the forest burning and some areas of lava breakouts, especially visible after dark.
July 17th, 2010 Report:
~ No binoculars needed: molten lava pours onto county viewing area highway 130 ~
(Click on any image for a larger view size window)

Molten pahoehoe reached the very last paved portion of highway 130 at 10:00 PM last night at the exact location of where the May 5th lava had stopped.

The timing of this event was not favorable for the hundreds of visitors who patiently waited for hours at the Civil Defense viewing area at roads end in hopes of seeing the lava reach the road; the viewing area was closed just before 10:00 Pm to give people time to Walk the mile back to their vehicles. They did, however, get to witness large areas of vegetation burning all along the road and across the adjacent lands; fires started by the advancing lava flow.

Local residents did gather at roads end in the hours to follow. One resident, a friend of mine whose access road leading to his home is right at the end current end of 130, was there last night watching the lava advance up the highway. He told me he had removed what he could from the home but would stay in it for the night. But early this morning that access road, which is actually the original loop of highway 137, was severed by lava. I do not yet have photos of that, just these images from last night as shown above and below here.

I am not sure how close the public viewing will be this afternoon, but I would expect that visitors will be allowed to walk up the closed end of highway 130 and get fairly close views of the lava crossing the highway and burning the vegetation.

July 16th lava report:
~ Surface lava heading towards highway 130, within 900-feet at 6:30 AM ~

4:30 AM: Leading edge of lava flow within 900-feet of highway 130 terminus. (Click on any of these images for a larger view size)

Above photo: This section of the road looked to me to be the location where the leading front of this most easterly portion of our present lava will be flowing within the next 24-hours; closing in on the very end of highway 130, which is currently the Civil Defense Hawaii County public lava-viewing site. If the flowing lava does cover this end of the road it will also be entering a large kipuka forest, as well as possibly cut off all access to a side road that leads to one local residence and a State road branch often used by local fishermen.

We should know what this lava will do there at the road by tonight and tomorrow morning. Inflation has just now begun after a couple days of deflation- and if it continues pressurizing we could see a surge of more lava within the entire coastal lava flow by late tonight. Click on the linked word above for more information on the monitors.

Below are some more of the photos I took between 4:00 AM and 6:30 AM today showing the overall situation with the leading edge of surface lava near Kalapana Gardens.

Read the July 15th posting, which tells the story of the advancing lava for a complete update of this July lava flow

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