Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pele takes New Years Eve off ~ Blue Full Moon Night

A major drop in magma pressure underneath Kilauea Volcano has nearly stopped all visible lava activity within the plumbing system from the eruption sites from Pu`u O`o to the Waikupanaha ocean entry. Last night the ocean entry plume slowly became smaller but was still looking impressive at 10:00 PM highlighted by the full moon; but overnight the plume dissipated to a wisp of its former self.

Inflation of the magma pressures will eventually bring the lava back to the shoreline but this has not occurred yet and even when it does inflate it will take about 12 hours for the lava to appear; and its return intensity will be determined by how strong and how fast the inflationary period is. This present deflation has the largest amplitude for 2009.

Kilauea Caldera Sulfur dioxide map updates
If you are considering a trip out to the County Viewing area located off the end of highway 130, phone the lava hotline at 961-8093 in the afternoon to find out whether it is open. Volcanic haze is currently moving in all directions this morning and that may cause a shutdown.

Blue Moon Tonight

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vog - Sulfur Dioxide and Wind direction

This is a photo-splice from this morning view of Halema’uma’u’s crater cam showing the sulfur dioxide fumes moving to the northeast as opposed to the usual southwesterly direction; sending vog more towards Hilo and vicinity than Kona.

Emissions of sulfur dioxide directly into our clean tropical Hawaiian air currents have been a serious concern and detriment to the health of people and the aina (land) for many years. Farmers down stream from the Big Island’s prevailing wind stream have had crops destroyed by this mix of toxic gases and the sulfuric acids. The State of Hawaii last year compensated some hard hit protea flower farmers in Kau and also helped relocate some of them to healthier patches of land.

On March 19th of 2008 a new sulfur dioxide emitting vent blew out of the floor of the Halema’uma’u crater and has since spewed an average of ten-times the crater’s previous volume of sulfur dioxide, glass particles and ash; exaggerating the vog problems everywhere the wind blows from there, including the Hawaii Volcanoes Park visitors center and Jaggar museum and all communities downwind.

These intense Halemau’uma’u fumes are only half of the source of the Big Islands volcanic, Vog, haze; The massive Pu`u O`o active eruption vent also contributes a daily average of 9000 tones of sulfur dioxide into the Hawaiian Island airstreams. Both of these volcanic vents are degassing magma on large scale, and the combination of the two has created some serious health issues. There have been a number of recent studies on the affects of our vog on humans breathing it and recommendations to persons with compromised respiratory problems to avoid it, but otherwise we keep on breathing it daily in many communities throughout the Hawaiian Island chain.

Such massive volumes of these volcanic gasses are ejected that they have been recorded from space, as shown in this NASA image here and written about in this article
(Click on the images for a larger view size)

Volcanic haze is what closed the County of Hawaii lava viewing area down yesterday and may do so again today. So if planning a visit to view the active lava flow phone the Civil Defense lava hotline at 961-8093 in the afternoon before heading out there. You can also see updated sulfur dioxide direction map here

Deflation is also full-on right now, which may subdue the robust ocean entry and surface flows of lava we have enjoyed this past week.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ocean entry lava plume dusk-til-dark photos ~ Variable winds messin with the vog

The following set of photos I took of last night’s ocean entry lava plume as seen from the County of Hawaii trailhead next to the parking lot: From sunset to dusk and into the night – (click on images for a larger size)

Lava glowing in plume:

Variable morning winds send Halema’uma’u crater fumes to the east as seen on the crater cam

Current sulfur dioxide conditions this morning reflect the same light wind conditions spreading toxic fumes in an easterly direction. Forecasters are calling for southerly winds today for the Hawaiian Islands as a northwest approaching cold front draws our warm air up towards it. Light & variable winds will likely create ongoing vog conditions throughout the island chain in the next few days.

Because of these switching winds it would be a good idea to phone the lava viewing hotline at 961-8093 in the later afternoon before heading out to watch the active lava off the end of highway 130.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bright surface flow ~ Lava entry lava ~ Strong magma pressures

(Surface lava reflects off low clouds - click on any image for a larger size)

To the delight of over 1200 visitors to the active coastal lava zone last night, not only was there a strong ocean entry lava plume like yesterday with some explosive moments, they also witnessed this long line of molten surface lava glowing bright orange & red after dark as shown in these images I took last night. A closer look below:

This surface lava is only a mile and a half away from the Hawaii County viewing area trailhead at the end of highway 130. Perhaps we will get another dramatically close look at the flowing lava like we did two-months earlier.

Hawaii National Park field ranger Ron Boyle documented this dramatic and very hot ocean entry lava on the less explosive side of Waikupanaha yesterday morning.

The inflation of magma pressures beneath Kilauea Volcano continue strong but have leveled off, as the deformation graph below reveals. A strong pressure like this may contribute to this new activity on the surface and ocean entry.

Current sulfur dioxide conditions within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are showing the toxic fumes being blown by onshore winds inland. This will send the volcanic Vog haze across the Big Island and maybe on down the island chain.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dusk plume photos from the trailhead ~ New surface flow ~ Halema’uma’u Crater vent glowing brightly

(click on any of the images to open a larger size)

Twelve hundred people came out to watch molten lava make the Big Island bigger last night. I took this set of photos of some of them heading out the trail on their walk to the coastal viewing area ¾’s of a mile away as dusk came on.

After dark, further up the mountain, we could see some new molten lava breaking out in a broken line. This breakout is springing from the lava tube formed a few months ago; the more easterly tube of the two coming down through that area. Last time that we saw this kind of surface flow it eventually arrived next to the viewing area trailhead and put on a spectacular show as it burned out the remnant forests and covered a section of highway 130 as I reported here & here.

For the third night in a row the 460-foot wide fuming vent within the Halema’uma’u crater was glowing brightly after dark. Deep within this vent is a broiling caldron of molten lava. When not crusted over its glow puts on a nice show for visitors to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The park is open all night at no charge and the best viewing is from the decks of the Jaggar Museum. Check out this QuickTime movie clip of this action as seen by the close-up infrared crater vent cam.

Weather: After three absolutely perfect Hawaiian skies over Christmas, a weak cold front has brought some scattered showers to portions of the Big Island and also disturbed the NE Trade Winds. This interruption to our island airflow has created variable winds this morning have spread the volcanic haze, or vog, as shown on this sulfur dioxide map for Kilauea Volcano fumes.
Winds may keep the toxic ocean entry plume at bay tonight but it might be a good idea to phone the lava viewing hotline before driving out: 961-8093

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Maps & Photo showing lava tubes ~ Inflation Back

Okay here’s my theory:
There are currently two separate primary lava tubes leading from the eruption site up on the mountain near Pu`u` O`o & Kupainaha. I have labeled the location of these tubes on the USGS lava flow field maps below. I have added my own lines in red with black dots to indicate my guess as to where the newer lava tube ran down through in October 2009 to the present. At some point along there the newer lava tube crosses over the top of the older Waikupanaha tube. Up until the last few weeks, we had a broad surface flow and ocean entry from the 2nd lava tube named the West-Waikupanaha. I think that there is a possibility that the newer tube burned down and connected to the older tube and that caused two things to occur: a cessation of West-Waikupanaha surface and ocean entry flows, and an increase in lava volume out the original Waikupanaha flow tube; both of which we are witnessing now. (click on images for a larger size)

Here is a photo I took two days ago from the last section of highway 130 that leads to the County viewing area. In this photo I have added comments pointing out the location of the fuming/degassing of the two lava tubes described above, and as indicated on the maps.

Inflation of the magma pressures under Kilauea Volcano are up and holding as shown in the deformation graph below. This should translate on the ground as a continued strong ocean entry plume at Waikupanaha, and a possibility of new surface breakouts of lava.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Pidi (Pee-dee) Lava Dog ~ Alohohoa ~ Very-High Surf Warning Continue

Pidi The-Lava-Dog was abandoned at the end of highway 130 near Kalapana over a year ago. He lived day & night around the trailhead of the lava viewing area. Vendors and County workers would bring food to this shy dog. As the months went by Pedi slowly became more at ease with us and would allow us to pat him.

Kimball Trump, a vendor selling his blown & formed glass creations had is own new puppy, Chillbone, named after his music group. Kimball said he felt bad about Pidi living out on that lava flow and eventually started taking Pidi home with him and Chillbone. Here's a shot of Pidi hanging around the vendor stalls before Kimball adopted him:

On Christmas Eve Pidi arrived to the viewing area vendor parking spots with his new family - wearing a Santa hat.

Here is is the family portrait of the three:

The Hawaii County viewing area is open today.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Calm – Cloudlessly-clear but Voggy Skies ~ Very High Surf Warnings

Littoral explosions shot up from the base of the strong lava ocean entry plume at Waikupanaha last night to the delight of the hundreds of people gathered under a star-studded sky, half moon and the planet Jupiter.

This show may get even better tonight because magma inflation pressures are on the rise and will likely send more lava down the underground plumbing system and into the sea. It might be a good idea to phone the lava viewing hotline at 961-8093 this afternoon before heading out to the area because this morning light & variable winds could easily cause a shutdown due to toxic plume gasses blowing over.

The Halema’uma’u crater in the Kilauea Volcano caldera also has a strong and windless directed plume this morning. The photo below is taken off the Jaggar museum webcam situated on top the Hawai’i Volcanoes Observatory building in the National Park at 10:00 AM.

Hawai’i weather synopsis:
“A weak cold front will affect the state this afternoon through Christmas day, bringing some showers to mainly windward locations. The front will dissipate over the islands by Saturday, but high pressure moving north of the state will usher in a period of light to moderate trades into early next week. Leftover moisture in the area from the dissipated front will continue to bring the threat for passing windward and mauka showers.”

Another series of north generated waves are heading across Hawaiian waters through the Christmas holidays. High Surf Warnings are up now: “SURF ALONG NORTH AND WEST FACING SHORES OF NIIHAU AND KAUAI...AND

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Perfect Skies Over Big Island ~ Robust Lava Entry Plume

(click on the images to view a larger size)

It began last night. Skies over the southeast and east sides of the Big Island cleared giving way to a beautiful sunset at the lava viewing area. The golden ball of a sun shone through the thick layers of sulfur dioxide fumes wafting out of the vents and lava tubes across the active lava coastal plains. Here is the broader scene taken at the lava viewing trailhead at the Kalapana terminus of highway 130 - The Waikupanaha ocean entry is the plume on the left:

This morning dawned to clear skies with a few little puffy Trade Clouds. Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea Volcanoes stand out in full glory.

Spectators to the lava viewing area last night reported a strong ocean entry plume with molten lava pouring off the left side of the newly forming bench of land on its outer edges.

Deformation , the flexing of the earth from magma under the Kilauea Volcano, has been graphed fluctuating but generally holding a bit of molten lava surface pressure.

Below is a recent USGS aerial image showing Pu`u O`o crater vent degassing. In the background is Mauna Loa on the left and Mauna Kea barely visible in the upper right.

For a Live Panorama of Moku`─üweoweo, Mauna Loa Volcano click on this link; still some traces of snow on this rough & raw crater.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Halema'uma'u Crater Pit enlarges ~ Mayon Volcano Dangerously Rumbling

The photo composite straight off the Hawai'i Volcano Observatory site at 9:30 AM this morning shows a parent holding an infant at the Jaggar Museum overlook. The image got me to thinking about the ongoing changes of this eruption and wondering what this infant would see at this same location when reaching his or her parents age. I’ll have to do a follow up blog on this around 2035 or 2040.(click on it for larger size)
From their write up about this crater this morning: An enlarged openings at the bottom of a deep pit inset within the floor of Halema'uma'u Crater continued to allow views of a spattering lava surface which was rising and falling until about 1 am; this morning, the lave surface remained below the rim of the hole.

Meanwhile there is another volcano that is much more threatening than our gentle Kilauea. The Mayon Volcano in the central Philippines is rumbling and lava pours out its pointed summit. An explosive eruption may be imminent. “Mayon has erupted nearly 40 times over 400 years. About 30,000 people were moved during the last eruption in 2006. An eruption in 1993 killed 79 people”

National Weather Services Honolulu synopsis: A series of weak cold fronts will affect the islands over the next several days. Brief bouts of light to moderate trades will follow each front, with any frontal showers predominantly focusing over windward and mauka areas. Updated: 12/22/2009 10:00 am HST

There are still some cold north wind air pockets and scattered showers on Big Island’s most easterly point, but lots of blue-sky pukas out there. If the winds behave themselves, the lava viewing area should be open -call Civil Defense lava viewing hotline at 961-8093after 2:00 PM to find out for sure.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice ~ Snow on the Mauna’s ~ Ocean Entry Aerials

Winter Solstice blessings to all my readers!
(click on images for a larger size) Mauna Kea from my upper lanai this morning at 9:30 – What a different sky view than yesterday’s rain and lightning storms!

Mauna Loa, below, is the long curve of land in the distance and does not usually get photographed very often because it is so unpronounced as a distinct land masse, yet it is the largest shield volcano in the world. Green Mountain cinder cone in the foreground.

And the same goes for last night as far as a major change in the weather & skies: I snapped the below photo of a grinning crescent moon with the planet Jupiter riding along last night at 9:30PM.

And the blow-up of Jupiter is fuzzed-out but I wanted to show you how 3 of Jupiter’s 63 moons lined up perfectly by chance.

Finally, here is a recent USGS aerial showing the current active lava flow fields. Notice there is now only one ocean entry – the original Waikupanaha that has been active since March of 2008. The silvery lava across the land are where the most recent surface flows were active just weeks ago. The fuming line meandering toward the plume is the location of the large lava tube carrying the molten lava to the sea.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lightning Storms - Rains, lightning & thunder for hours yesterday and into today.

Above and below are some of the photos taken from my house of the lightning last night:
The lone light on the lower-left side of the above image (click on it to see) is a neighbor’s house that, like me, had their own electricity—all other power in the area was off & on all day and night.

This huge lightning bolt below seemed not sure which way the earth was, but terminated into the open ocean just offshore.

Island of Hawaii weather is still in the clutches of a north spawned cold-front. If you are reading this on the morning of this posting then you will see the remnant cold air re-creating rain masses on this IR loop. And to see how that translates into rain and thunderstorms the NWS radar loop images will show the formation of these thunderstorms we are still getting. Hawaii Island and now Oahu are under a flood advisory for portions of each island. My meteorologist neighbor Mike reported 3-full inches of rain here at Cape Kumukahi overnight; most of which fell in short thundershower bursts.

(Looking straight up over my house)

Now for a different perspective of Hawaii weather and skies… Check these next two links out! (South facing cam) Time lapsed video from Mauna Kea observatories showing both nights of lightning flashes and Venus rising
AND - Northeast facing cam shows even more of last nights lightning

David Corrigan has posted a nice little local video clip on Big Island Video News . com he shot from his car during yesterday’s severe thunderstorms--

Lava: The lava viewing area was closed yesterday and evening due to the severe rains and thunderstorms anchored over the entire southeast and east sides of the Big Isle.
Phone the County lava viewing hotline at 961-8093 after 2:00 PM for updates.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Underwater Volcano Video’s ~ East & Southeast Big Island Cold & Rainy

I posted this photo on here once before and would have taken a new picture to show what the view is out my windows this morning, but it would have looked exactly the same!
A weak cold front from the north is clipping the islands and giving the Big Island in particular, some cold north winds and rains this morning. Ahead of this front last night we had a few hours of lightning flashing from the Hamakua coast to Kalapana.

Though our local Big Island friends, the Turpin family, have been filming underwater lava eruptions for years, science volcanologists are claiming this underwater volcano near Samoa captured from remote submarine is the first time a submarine volcano has been captured on video. An Associated Press release yesterday: December 17th, 2009

Then there are the guys who play with lava on land, like many have done here with the Kilauea Volcano. I am not sure where the following short clip of a man forming an amazing head mold from raw lava was documented at.

Local lava report:
Under dry skies many people arrived at the end of highway 130 to the County lava viewing area and witnessed one strong ocean entry plume that at times produced some small littoral explosions. All other surface and ocean entry flows we have been seeing for the past couple of months have currently stopped altogether.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lava Viewing Area – open then closed ~ Big Deflation Begins

It was a pleasant afternoon and early evening out at the parking and trailhead area at the end of highway 130 yesterday. There was a moderately strong lava entry plume and the viewing area was open. Open, yet light and variable winds had dominated the skies all morning causing a broad blanket of volcanic haze to cover the entire eastern half of the Big Island. I was surprised to phone the Civil Defense lava viewing hotline and hear they had called it open around 2:00 PM, even though I could look out my windows at home and see in any direction some of the thickest vog ever!

Since the viewing area was open I went down there to set up my lava photography vendors display booth. I drove through vog all the way there. But they were right; the ocean entry plume itself was wafting from the southeast to the northwest, away from the viewing area. Hundreds of lava viewers arrived at 5:00 PM and walked out the Waikupanaha trail, but by 7:30 PM or so the breeze direction shifted slightly bringing the toxic plume overtop the viewers and an emergency evacuation was announced.

Today, though, we have fresh and stronger northeast winds that have cleared the air and should allow for a full nights viewing of lava at Roads End: highway 130.

That said, there is a new deflationary trend happening up under the Kilauea Volcano, as the graph below shows. This may cause the one and only lava entry point to be a little more subdued tonight.