Saturday, July 31, 2010

~ A very hot July in Kalapana ~

What a hot and destructive month this has been down on the Big Island’s coastal flats of the Kalapana region: largest thrust of surface lava since 1990 for that area; first loss of an occupied home there since 1990.
(See my July 29th posting for comparisons of the two).

Above, Aunty Minnie Kaawaloa’s son surveys the molten lava razing the hala forest not far from the family home on the Hakuma escarpment. Lava has burned out many square acres of vegetation and old mango patches in this area and continues to seriously threaten not only the Kaawaloa’s but the entire Kalapana Gardens 20+ homes near by.

One thing that I think is helping to slow the advancement of lava further into the residential Kalapana Gardens, at least for the moment, is the drop in magma pressure below Kilauea Volcano, which likely is manifesting as a drop in lava pressure and movement throughout the entire eruption zone and tubing system for the lava.

EDIT August 1st,for the following 'NOTE' - Thanks to those that have supplied links or solutions to the computer problem that I posted below. I have temporarily resolved the issue:

NOTE: I am having some serious computer crashes and may not be able to continue with my updates until it is resolved. I may, though, be able to access another computer for brief updates. So if no updates appear you will know why ;)
If there are any computer techies out there that can help me with "NTLDR is missing" load problem, please email me at - I can still get emails on another computer. (I have the recovery disks and stuff-- which is how I got on here, but it still crashes)

Friday, July 30, 2010

~ ** Fox’s Landing covered by lava ** ~

I describe the event below all the images, which tell a solid story themselves: as lava marched further down the beach, large south-swell waves pounded in over it, and darkness set in. Photos of Fox's Landing taken between 4:30 PM and 7:30 PM, July 29th, 2010:

Beginning on the west end pali walls above the beach, and at the waters edge, rivers of orange and yellow lava poured between the hala trees and coconut palms and onto the blacksand and smooth-stoned beach below: By early evening had affectively removed forever this beloved hidden jewel -- Pele has been on a serious rampage this month...

I was the only one witnessing this at first but over the following hour two University of Hilo Geology personnel arrived followed by a large contingent of the Kaawaloa family who have a home directly on the other side of the Hakuma rift fault from Fox’s Landing; and whose home is threatened right now by approaching surface lava and for-running brush fires. (More on their tense situation soon)

I do not know the cultural stories of the beach landing and I missed a good opportunity to find out while hanging out around the Kaawaloa’s… I was so locked-into taking pictures and digital video clips of the special event.

I mention Fox’s Landing in yesterday blog post, and if you have not read that one it gives good overview comparisons between the 1990 and our present Kalapana Gardens flow twenty years later. The aerial photos in that post show where Fox’s Landing is located in relationship to this huge and still growing July 2010 Quarry flow.

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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

~ Coastal plain lava field remains hot – molten breakouts in a few locations ~ Small ocean entries continue ~

Lava continues to dribble into the ocean at one location and may soon be followed by a second nearby entry today. This ocean entry is far from homes or roads and not easily accessed or seen from highway 130. Ron Boyle did make a strenuous hike out there yesterday and kindly sent me these two photos above and below of the ocean entry.

The very hot and newly formed lava plain that spreads out from the base Pulama Pali to the borders of Kalapana Gardens homes to the east and to the Hakuma horst fault paralleling the coast to the south & southeast, has not advanced much further over the past couple of days. There are three areas in which molten pahoehoe breakouts are occurring and one of these is nearing a home, but is not advancing enough to pose immediate threat to it.

That's for sure!

One of the factors keeping the surface flows from a more rapid advance is likely due to recent deflation of magma beneath the Kilauea caldera over the past couple of days. There was a brief inflationary surge yesterday but that has since returned to deflation, as recorded by USGS/HVO deformation monitor graphs. Click on the highlighted text to view the current monitor movements.

~Gary is doing fine and I'll pass on to him the well-wishes from all of you who have written to me and offered their concern for him since losing his home to the lava this past week.

Monday, July 26, 2010

~ Lava entering the ocean ~ Reprieve on the coastal plain ~

Pele finally decided to taste salt water yesterday afternoon around 2-PM.
The ocean entry is in a rough patch of the coastline between the old Waikupanaha lava-viewing area and Foxes Landing in Kalapana Gardens. Steam can be seen rising from the distant lava entry point today.

Expansion and inflation of the entire new flow plain has mostly paused; less brush fires, lava breakouts or threats to more homes. This could all change quickly and become re-energized, but for now the residents in the community of Kalapana Gardens are getting a much needed reprieve from Pele’s recent display awesome power and ability to change her palette at will; a palette known to us as The Big Island.

Deflationof the magma beneath Kilauea Volcano by the USGS/HVO recording monitors is yet another indication that our Volcano Goddess may be resting a bit after such an incredible outpouring.

Gentle rain showers are also cooling things down along the steaming coastal shores this morning; adding to the feeling of reprieve from this past week of intense heat and fires.

Witnessing Gary’s property and home being claimed by lava continues to affect me; it was such an extraordinary event in so many ways. So I will post just these two images for today:

Above: Gary and a neighbor friend watching the smoke and fumes broiling up behind his home as advancing lava speads steadily towards it on July 24th at 4:00 PM ~ Below, twelve hours later at 4:00 AM July 25th, Gary and another close friend watch as Gary's home goes up in lava-ignited flames:
[EDIT JULY 26TH, 2010: Hawaii News Now, our local Oahu TV News station has been covering this story, using portions of the movie clips of the event I sent them. They have linked the news story HERE. They also posted other news clips and raw viseo of the event in their Video section on the linked site above.]

Sunday, July 25, 2010

~ Pele Takes Gary’s Home ~

July 25th, 2010

~ Pele Takes Gary’s Home ~

Pele ever so slowly moved through the forest bordering Gary’s beautiful home in Kalapana Gardens for three days before finally encroaching it on three sides yesterday afternoon. By late afternoon it was very evident that She would take the house on two fronts: At 3:19 AM this morning Pele kissed wood on Gary’s house for the 1st time – By 5:16 AM Gary’s home became Pele’s completely.

The following images speak for themselves: two of them are of the gazebo that was out on the woods near the house, which Pele claimed hours before she took over residence in the home. The last image is of Gary’s wonderful arbored garden; its handcrafted fencing illuminated by the large heap of burned building before it, and molten spreading lava – And, the Full setting moon…. Gary told me days earlier, when surface lava was truly heading his way fast, that he hoped She would take the house on this full moon, but he didn’t think she would wait that long … but she sure did…

… It was a very powerful and moving experience to witness by all of us who joined to share with Gary this most sacred of Hawaiian moments ~

EDIT: You can watch my video of this event by opening the following KLYV-7 News page link and then clicking on either of the two featured Video Gallery links on the page.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Very broad and strong lava flow is expanding and very near to Kalapana homes

This is only one tiny piece of this massive lava flow now moving into Kalapana Gardens and highways 130 and 137

I have been in the active lava fields for 24-hours straight documenting what is looking to be the largest lava flow since the 1990/1 Kalapana event. Kalapana Gardens subdivision is being squeezed on two sides by a very broad area of molten lava that is also inflating as it goes; meaning it rises horizontally as it also advances across terrain.

One home was nearly taken out by lava yesterday when pahoehoe advanced into Gary’s backyard and stopped within forty feet of his house. A separate flow came onto his property and burned his outhouse last night. And as I type there are two much larger surface flows heading towards his home and are now only 110-feet away. It s quite likely his home will be taken by this lava sometime today.

Pictures from yesterday are posted below. I am heading back out to the lava fields now and will report back when I return.

USGS D/I monitors are recording continued inflation. This usually reflects in an active lava flow as contined or elevated pressure; feeding the surface flow from mountain to coastal flats, where the lava front currently is.

Grass fire ignited by lava in Gary's yard yesterday but put out-- and then that lava stopped advancing.

Gary's outhouse burns from lava overtaking it.

Lava in the forest across the road from Gary's home.

Lava burned through forest all night near Gary's property and is now only 100-feet from his home...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Coastal flow plain inflation continues – not to the sea yet ~ Foxes Landing trail lava-covered

Sun setting through burning forest

For those familiar with the blacksand beach surrounded by high and sheer rock on both ends, and known as Foxes Landing, will have walked there over a long-used trail leading there from inland. The advancing lava covered this trail by late afternoon yesterday. The photo above was taken while standing on a portion of that path.

Above: Locals gathered there at dusk to witness this event or to see if the expanding and spreading lava was also going to pour into the ocean at Foxes Landing itself, which seems unlikely in the short term due to a long high rock escarpment between the flowing lava and the sea.

Below: Gary’s house under a nearly full moon late last night and lava sparked fires just beyond.

Above: A bright setting Venuse hangs over a spectacular and expansive lavascape. These two chairs set on older lava near Gary’s home; it is where he sits and has the finest view of lava flows coming down the Pulama Pali on all of Hawaii Island. The lava glow on the lower right is only 130-feet away, and advancing slowly.

Last night Gary & I sat in those chairs and gazed out over a surreal moonlit lavascape and talked story until late. We watched trees flare up in huge torch-like flares as they each succumbed to the molten lavas intense heat moving beneath; we talked of where he might find homes for his two dogs when the lava takes his house; Gary will only have his van to live in when that happens...

Much closer; we watched glowing lava only a couple hundred feet to the north side of his property, west side of his house, and in the ironwood trees to our east: essentially surrounding Gary’s home and the lava-watching chairs.

Gary said that he hasn’t been able to sleep well at night, not from worry over whether Pele will take out his home, but from all the curious people that walk through his property at every hour of the day & night talking loud and/or waking his two dogs.

To Karen & Chas and his other friends: today is the day.