Sunday, December 11, 2011

Royal Gardens lava flow reaches the ocean 2-miles south

Image- Royal Gardens lava fires in the distance as molten lava reaches the shoreline.

At 6:15 in the afternoon of December 9th, lava from Pu`u O`o craters ongoing eruption began flowing into the ocean about two miles south of the old Royal Gardens subdivision. This is our first ocean entry since last February (2011), and also this time it is within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - although very inaccessible to the public.

I spent an afternoon out there and snapped these pictures (above and more further down) and also took some video of the pahoehoe doing all it's neat surface flow tricks. Here is a 2 1/2 minute collection of those clips:VIDEO

I was tempted to stay and watch it pour into the sea, but chose to leave and hike back with the last daylight. Two other photographers, Philip and Michael, stayed behind and got some great photos & vids too. It was Phil that later notified me of the official ocean entry time. You can view his great video of when the lava first dripped off the cliffs into the sea (we had been trying to guess) - Here is Philip Ong's video

He also had sneakily snapped a shot of me all splayed out on the lava taking videos, as seen below: Yeah-- I dress pretty covered up for getting close to a volcano goddess at work…
But I also snuck a shot of Philip guessing how long the lava would take to reach the sea...

I love all the endlessly crazy shapes this stuff can create! - Pele's handiwork as they say around here.>

In the days ahead we will find out if this flow will establish itself thru insulating tube systems, or be severed of lava by a plumbing system collapse, or possibly stop flowing due to a large, or sustained drop in magma pressures beneath Kilauea Volcano and the Pu`u O`o crater a little over seven miles uphill to the north. (You can always follow their daily updates here)

A few hardy souls made it to the leading edge of the lava streams. (CLICK ON ANY IMAGE HERE TO OPEN THEM ALL LARGE)

Below: Royal Gardens as seen from the coastal flats -- Jack Thompson's house, the reddish square near the middle of the forest and left of the dense smoke, has survived this flow so far-- as it should be! This is also the exact location of where I filmed those wild lava rivers!

**** So this will be my last report on the new flow for awhile. I do not plan to make regular trips across many miles of old, raw & wild lava fields just to check on this newly established ocean entry. But I will report any substantial changes to it.
>>> I am also working an a serious feature lava flow movie -- The story is nearly formed-- tons of hynotizing molten lava footage, edited and ready to go! -- Hey, if any of you know of a movie producer, or someone willing to finance this movie, please email me. I am also hoping to get certain well known composer (already picked) to lay the soundtrack -- but need help to do that too. Thanks for any suggestions! ****

Public lava viewing options:
The Kalapana Gardens Civil Defense Lava Viewing Area is still operating daily from 2PM to about 9PM at the very end of Highway 130. As of this writing: by day the distant Royal Gardens lava fumes and smoke from burning brush and trees can still be seen, and by night some red-orange lava glow is visible there too. But unless there are new breakouts on that pali, this view of the active eruption may fade from sight in the days ahead. Even the ocean entry steam plume will be too far away to be seen on most days, assuming it continues being feed by lava there.

There may also be views of the lava on the coastal plains from the lower section of the Chain of Craters Road, in the national park, some 4 1/2 miles away from the active lava.

Also, I believe there are one or two die-hard lava tour outfits still offering to take fit individuals the nearly seven-mile roundtrip lavascape hike the new ocean entry. Ask around in Kalapana


  1. Do you have any suggstions on how to get to the lava flow from Kalapana? Or is something like walk strait to the fumes on hardened lava fields?
    Thanks! Vincenzo

  2. Hey Vincenzo,
    I will not give any specific directions to this or any lava flow, but there are tour guides available in the Kalapana area. Drive to the end of the highway 130 after 2:00PM and ask those who are there --OR-- drive to the kava bar/store/Verna's cafe just up the road at Kaimu-- ask about directions/guides, there.

  3. Hey, just wanted to say Thank You SO Much for this blog, the photos, videos, and all the work you do. It made me so happy to see the updates over the last few days. I lived on the Big Island for a year, and now that Im away I feel like your blog lets me keep in touch with the beating heart of the island. I know Im not the only one either. I wish you had a PayPal donation button or something so I could show my appreciation in a more tangible way.

  4. To Vika O:

    You could purchase one of Leigh's amazing lava photos - I did!