Saturday, July 10, 2010

Molten lava front nears coastal-flats

(Click on any image for a larger view size)

I documented the Pulama Pali lava flow yesterday afternoon and evening by hiking from the coastal flats all the way to the rootless-shield zone - (I am very experienced hiking lava flows; hiking lava is full of real hazards and should definitely not be undertaken by other than those qualified to do so – especially after dark). The big lava surge that ploughed down the mountain the 6th to the 8th has now slowed but continues advancing. Deflation of magma pressure likely caused the slowing, as well as draining of the stored lava within the upper shields.

Below are a few more of the photos I took up on the slopes. This current lava flow is well east of the old Royal Gardens subdivision area and is flowing across the 1986 to 1992 Kalapana Gardens flow fields and within 300-yards of the eastern border of upper kipuka forest.

Much of the molten lava is rough & jumbly pahoehoe/A`a mix, with some swaths of pahoehoe breakout rivers and toes, as shown below.

This lava was flowing as open rivers a couple days ago, and was a part of what was seen from highway 130 so spectacularly on July 7th & 8th.

This flow appears to be headed toward the sill warm April-May Quarry flow field on the coastal flats; where it will cross over it. It may then take out the last of the Quarry kipuka and possibly take out some more of the pavement at the end of highway 130, or not… we will know in a few days. This flow is close to pouring onto the coastal flats, and will do so in a day or two, depending on inflation and deflation lava pressures from the eruption site at ‘D’ vent near Kupaianaha, which USGS/HVO monitors currently show the past two days of deflation is now leveling.This is the leading edge of this lava flow, near the 300-foot elevation.

Active lava viewing prospects for the public:

1) Coastal viewing: Three to four hundred visitors seeking to witness lava activity have been arriving daily at the Hawaii County Kalapana viewing area: The viewing area is essentially the last mile of paved road on highway 130; the end of which is the same location where lava came onto the highway on May 5th, 2010. A 1/2- mile walk down the road gives views of the lava fuming/degassing where it is coming down the distant pali during the day. After dark, lava glow can easily be seen advancing down the slopes nearby. In a few days, the leading edge of this active flow may be more difficult to see from the highway-viewing road as it reaches the coastal flats.

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 and 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. This end of highway 130 is open to all traffic on all other hours.

2) 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 a hundred 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 might 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.

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