Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pele's Halloween

(click on photos for larger size)
Pele (Pay-lay) our Hawaiian Volcano Goddess: She-Who-Shapes-The-Sacred-Land, likes offerings of items in her fiery colors, so a pumpkin seems to be a good choice.

Pele continues placing a new layer of rock across her previous creations between the Waikupanaha ocean entry shoreline and Pu`u O`o crater far up the mountain to the north.

Molten lava pahoehoe surface flows are now oozing across a very broad area of the coastal plains. The area between the base of the mountain pali and the shoreline being affected is probably close to a mile wide and mile long: from within 100 feet of the Civil Defense trailhead booths and Kupapa`u ocean entry (now quite for several months).

These new coastal plain flows will likely reach the sea at several locations in the days/weeks to come. The most westerly fingers of moving lava continue burning vegetation parallel to the trail leading out to the viewing area at the coast. So visitors are getting the spectacular experience of a fairly close look at Pele’s awesome power to create and destroy.


Friday, October 30, 2009

To see what conditions are like out on the lava fields and visitor area right now, check out this recent video shot & edited by UHH Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV). I have met this team and they do an excellent job recording the lava activity. This October 28th, 2009 CSAV video shows pahoehoe lava break-out lobes and visitors watching the latest surface flows from the new viewing trailhead viewing area. This video will match my post reporting on the same day and location.

Last night the scene at both viewing areas was about the same as shown in that video. Yesterday and last night we watched more kipuka (small remnant forest & vegetative patches left behind by previous lava flows) glow and burst into flames as molten pahoehoe lava slowly moved into them.

On Monday I reported we had a tremendous show of explosive lava the night before. CSAV has a spectacular video of a 1994 coastal eruption event that looks identical to what we witnessed from the Civil Defense viewing area of the Waikupanaha ocean entry last Sunday night, Oct. 25th, 2009: littoral lava cone, bubble and sheet explosions of raw yellow molten lava.

Meanwhile up under the Kilauea Volcano there was a brief twelve hour deflation period, which may have caused some slowing of lava to the sea late last night. Inflation is slowly returning now.

This morning winds are light under mostly cloudy skies here on the most easterly tip of the Big Island. I have not been down to check surf conditions, but I cannot hear any surf this morning coming from the shoreline a mile away, so that may indicate small surf…. I know—a lame surf report but it is actually pretty accurate; I use the same method to determine if I should go surfing :) .... but for the official Hawaii surf report for today

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Visible Molten Lava and Burning Forests – Threatens To Relocate Viewing Area

Above, visitors stand behind Civil Defense barricades and gaze out over an inferno of changing landscape. (click on images for larger size)

A large area directly below & beyond the Civil Defense trailhead booths, to the southwest, came alive again yesterday and into the evening with numerous breakouts of red-orange lava and remnant kipuka forest and vegetation fires. At times large patches for trees burst into huge balls of flame. The surface lava can be seen far out onto the active lava coastal plain, or flow field where the main tubes carry lava to the sea.

A continuing build up new lava close to the trailhead could easily force a closer and relocation of the current trailhead and viewing areas.

Near the end of the official lava viewing hours of operation last night, around 9:30 PM the winds switched direction from a lazy southeasterly to northwesterly; the air instantly smelled and tasted of sulfur dioxide and smoke from the molten lava and many forest fires. This would normally have called for an emergency closure and evacuation of the area but all visitors had just left at that time.

Winds along this section of the Big Island this morning are light and variable under completely overcast, and somewhat voggy, skies.

If you are planning a visit to see the active lava you might want to phone the Hawaii County Civil Defense hotline to check on closers before heading out: 961-8093

Yellow-hot lobes of pahoehoe are putting a new layer of land over other recent additions

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Video of This Weeks Lava Flow ~ Vog Spreads Out ~ Surface Flow Subsides

Actively flowing lava continues moving towards the coast along the perimeters of the two Civil Defense viewing areas but is not as strong as earlier this week. A great little video of lava crossing highway 130 near Kalapana October 24th, 2009 by David Corrigan for Big Island News shows visitors witnessing the last day of stronger surface activity at the road location.

I will be back out tonight to see firsthand what the situation is now and report on this tomorrow at my usual late morning posting time ;)

As the USGS Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory ‘deformation’ graph shows, inflation of magma below the Kilauea Volcano continues a slow but steady rise in pressure. This could mean the surface flows of lava and the Waikupanaha ocean entry may become a little stronger in the days ahead.

The partly cloudy air around the southeast corner of the Big Island is rather calm and somewhat muggy this morning. Forecasters call for the usual scattered shower activity.

The National Park Service Sulfur Dioxide direction map for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park shows that these calm winds are causing widespread volcanic haze, or vog as we call it, to move out over portions of not only the Big Island but also reported in the skies as far away as Oahu.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Special Tribute to Kumu Hula George Naope – Uncle George

A living legend in his own time, Kumu Hula George Naope died today at eighty-one. (click on photo for a larger image)

A beautifully gregarious and talented man, Uncle George, as he was best known, was very instrumental in bringing world recognition to Hawaiian hula. He attended the annual Merrie Monarch Festivals in Hilo every year.

I took this photo of him at the 2005 festival.

Aerial Views of the Main Volcano Components

The photos above are from USGS Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory site and are excellent aerials showing the three most important volcano components involved with changing magma into lava and gases: The flow fields from the Pu`u O`o down the mountain six and a half miles to Waikupanaha where molten lava has been pouring into the ocean for about nineteen months straight(1st image), the massive vog producer - Pu`u O`o Crater to the east of Halema`uma`u (2nd image), and the Halema`uma`u Crater within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, venting more magma gases and ash through the new puka on the crator floor (3rd image).

The exciting lava shows this past four days continues but the lava action is a little more subdued at the moment. Visitors to the Civil Defense viewing areas (there are now two separate view locations) are continuing to witness surface lava and occasionally lava-ignited forest fires, as well as the large ocean entry lava plume; best seen at dusk and after dark, which is near 6:30 PM.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spectacularly Explosive Fireworks Display -- Pele Style

The top two photos, taken at the Civil Defense coastal viewing area last night, do not fully convey the amazing explosions of raw lava sheets and tephra ejected dramatically high into the air from the entry point at Waikupanaha last night. The sky was alight with this show and reportedly also seen from many miles down the coast at Seaview.

This coastal eruption was likely set into motion by a series of lava bench/delta collapses. The bench has been forming without any major collapses for over six weeks and was recently reported by geologists as being very thick and wide, which could easily create such fireworks when it cracked under stress, allowing raw molten lava to be squeezed rapidly up these cracks and ejected as wide sheets of yellow-hot lava. Seawater rushing into these fissures would add additional firepower to the situation.

I spoke with two women at 9:30 PM who had been sitting at the coastal viewing area since 5:30 PM who told me they not only witnessed the ongoing sets of huge explosions but also observed that over the course of the night, three distinct locations were the source of explosions. Likely these separate sources were the specific section of the lava bench cracking or even breaking off.

The photo above, also taken last night, is of the broader scene of surface lava breaking out a short distance behind Hawaii County Civil Defense headquarters on site at the end of highway 130, with a moon hovering overhead. In the photo below we have a closer look at one of the small lava rivers. Visitors now have two active lava viewing areas: the ocean entry viewpoint and the surface flows near the trailhead.

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s ‘deformation’ update site is now recording an upswing of inflation after 18-hours of deflation yesterday. This could translate into increased pressure throughout the plumbing system of active lava between The Pu`u O`o eruption site on the mountain all the way to the ocean entry, but not right away. This morning Civil Defense workers reported the ocean entry plume was very small; this could be a delayed result of yesterday’s deflationary period finally affecting this far end of the lava tube system.

Cold blustery wind & rain moved through these east/southeast shores of the Big Island this morning… breaking a spell of warm and sometimes muggy weather.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Inferno of Destruction at Viewing Area

As the set of photos above, taken last night, show -- a broad swath of forests are burning up as molten lava marches through the area directly to the west, behind Civil Defense headquarters at the trailhead leading to the coastal viewing location. (click on images for a larger view)

Throngs of people were awed by this spectacle of nature. Occasionally trees would flare up like giant torches and methane explosions could be seen as puffs of bluish light, and heard & felt as sharp thumps across the entire inferno of moving lava.

The closer images are of moving pahoehoe lava near what only yesterday were still remnants of highway 130, as shown in yesterdays post.

A deflationanary stage begun far up the mountain under Kilauea Volcano last night. This may translate to a slowing down of this new active surface lava breakout today.

Winds continue to be light and favorable for viewing lava at the Civil Defense viewing areas.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Molten Lava Crosses Highway 130 – Visitors Allowed to Witness

The photos above were taken yesterday, October 23rd, 2009 (click on them for a larger image)

Not since March of 2008 has the remnants of Highway 130, near Kalapana, felt the intense heat of active pahoehoe lava. All day and into the evening visitors and locals were allowed to safely gather next to the last paved section of the original road as molten lava slowly and dramatically overtook it. The highway used to continue along the coast connecting to Chain of Craters Road within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and was first severed by lava flows in 1986, having been closed ever since.

Lava entering the ocean at nearby Waikupanaha was explosive; sending showers of sparks high into the air at times; a spectacular show after dark. Eruption fissures further up the mountain near the Pu`u O`o crater have been pumping extra molten lava down slope through a network of lava tubes and surface breakouts for the past two weeks. This is due to magma pressure and volume remaining fairly constant as registered by sensitive USGS sensors placed around Pu'u O'o and Halema'uma'u Crater’s.

Cloudless skies and muggy air as the day dawned here on the southeast side of the Big Island.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Excitement at Lava Viewing Area

Photos above show lava moving through forests at the edge of highway 130 within the Civil Defense Viewing area, Kalapana: top photo by Ron Boyle, and the 2nd one by me.

As I wrote about in yesterday’s posting, surface flows of lava were moving closer to the viewing area and the terminus of highway 130; where previous lava flows cut the old highway off. Yesterday afternoon and into the evening moving molten pahoehoe lava came right to the edge of the last remnant of paved highway: trees were bursting into huge flare-ups of flame and brush crackling on fire beneath. Red-hot lava oozed in all directions.

Civil Defense in charge of visitors flocking out to see the ocean entry lava surprised us all by allowing people to walk down the last paved portion of 130 and get a close up look at molten lava and burning forests.

As the evening progressed, geologist, volcanologists, Hawaii Volcanoes Park personal, University of Hilo professors and locals were arriving in droves to witness such safe & easy access to active lava. It has been nearly a year and a half since the last opportunity.

I also made it out to see this and took a few photos, which I added a couple shots of above and will post more of in the days to come.

Meanwhile Hawaii remains under a Tropical Storm Warning from Tropical Storm Neki, which is fragmenting just north of Kauai and sending a few thunderstorms in the vicinity.

At around 11:40 PM last night the Loihi Seamount just south of the Big Island released a 4.1 earthquake that was felt in parts of the island.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hurricane Neki Still a Concern and Lava Burning Forest Near Viewing Area

At 10:00 PM last night I took the photo above from the trailhead leading to the 15-minute walk out to the Civil Defense lava viewing area. The left side orange glow is the plume where molten lava is entering the sea, on the right side is the glow produced by forest fires burning the west side of a narrow band of remnant forest kipuka close to the actual terminus of the original highway 130. And that is the planet Jupiter top-center. (Click on the photo for a larger view and see the stars :)

Continued movement of the molten lava in this area may threaten or close the viewing area trail, or possibly the visitor parking currently used; do to either the lava itself or the heavy smoke generated. Also, there is a sizable amount of surface lava moving down the pali further upslope as well. We have not seen active surface lava near the viewing area since July 2008. Civil Defense, State and County workers, who oversee the daily influx of visitors, as well as vendors and the visitors themselves, are all excited by this latest Pele display!

Meanwhile, portions of Hawaii and the Frigate Shoals remain on alert from the close proximity Hurricane Neki poses. For recent updates you can refresh this page: Central Pacific Hurricane Center - Hurricane NEKI .
And a related article from KGMB9 News: US Coast Guard Rescues Rescues 10 from French Frigate
All of Hawaii is under a Tropical Storm Warning as of this writing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Magma Deflation Cools Down Surface Flows + Hurricane Neki Makes Hawaiian’s Nervous

Above: Dusk scene of the ocean entry lava plume glowing red and a visit by waxing crescent moon as seen from near the trial head leading to the Viewing Area last night (click on the image for a larger size). The graph is from today’s USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s ‘deformation’ update site

Visitors reported seeing molten lava pouring rivulets off the easterly edge of the new lava delta/bench. Most of the lava flowing on the bench is obstructed from view by the spatter ridge and pali (cliff). But the wider bench is allowing the lava glow after dark to be much brighter than the previous month.

Trade Winds are slowing down and skies are partly cloudy BUT just to the southwest of the Hawaiian Islands we have Hurricane Neki churning sustained winds of 75 mph and gusts to 138 mph – a Category Three!

… This system has been growing larger for the past three days and now is so huge it actually fills an area from latitude 15 to 25 and longitude 160 to 170 ! It is forecast to bend back toward the north of the islands and gives a nervous impression of Hurricane Iniki 1992 . The eye of Hurricane Iniki passed directly over the island of Kaua`i on September 11, 1992, as a Category 4 hurricane…. Geez, even the name is simular to Neki….

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hawaiian Island Geology 101

The photo here I took out at the Waikupanaha ocean entry lava viewing area during a particularily explosive day/night.

Many years ago I was very impressed to learn the geology behind the creation of the Hawaiian Islands. What I learned was that every island and atoll in a line fifteen hundred miles southeast to northwest across the mid-pacific ocean was created by a magma Hot Spot. I am writing this Lava Daily near the center of this very Hot Spot, which is what inspired me to share the ongoing changes created by this incredible geology.

The long line of islands reflects the progressive movement of the Pacific Plate over a deep immobile hot spot. This hot spot partly melts the region just below the overriding Pacific Plate, producing small, isolated blobs of magma. Less dense than the surrounding solid rock, the magma rises buoyantly through structurally weak zones and ultimately erupts as lava onto the ocean floor to form volcanoes.

Over a span of about 70 million years, the combined processes of magma formation, eruption, and continuous movement of the Pacific Plate over the stationary hot spot have left the trail of volcanoes 1,500 miles across the ocean floor that we now call the Hawaiian-Emperor Chain or Hawaiian archipelago.

The local Hawaii part of this is nicely explained by Genny Anderson, where she explores the Hawaii Pacific Plate Tectonics and lava producing Hot Spot and has some good accompanying photos and drawings.

Lava continues pouring into the ocean at Waikupanaha today.

Surf along our east & southeast shores has dropped a lot. Yesterday, Sunday, some occasional 6-foot+ sets came through and surfers did there best to catch these windblown waves.

From the SE, bands of light rain showers continue wandering over the island today; winds are light from the East/southeast.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Heavy Rain Bands near the Islands – Hot New Surface Lava – Strong Magma Inflation

Above is a copy of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory ‘deformation’: inflation/deflation graph showing inflation trending very high right now.

Satellite Central Pacific Water Vapor Imagery loops are showing very heavy rain broiling just south by southwest of the Hawaiian Islands, so much so they have named it Tropical Storm Neki with winds of 40 mph. Neki is forecasted to miss the Islands to the west.

Pouring rain starting late last night continues as I write. These rains are independent of the storm to the Southwest. Local radar shows oncoming scattered showers.

I listened to large south swell pounding the southeast shores all night but is subsiding today.

I spoke with geologists returning from documenting the molten lava flowing on the coastal plains below Royal Gardens subdivision (long destroyed by lava) and coastal lava pouring into the sea. They saw four large fingers of lava that “was really hot and moving”; if it continues on course we could soon be watching flowing lava go by out at the official Civil Defense viewing area; something not seen there since June 2008.

Last night visitors to that viewing area witnessed a beautiful sunset, strong ocean entry plume, fingers of molten red lava flowing off the distant new bench of land and into the sea, as well as a few small fireworks of explosions – all with the bright planet Jupiter hanging right overhead. With this new onset of very strong inflation all the lava flowing may become more exciting the next few days.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 17th & 18th, 2009 – Lava Surface Flow Subsides – as does surf

Trade Winds returned yesterday Mushing Up Building South Swell Surfing. But the winds actually came in more from the north than usual so southeast shores were still not to windblown close to shore. I did not make it down to look at surfing conditions because my photography business kept me home both mornings L, but winds are much lighter so maybe the larger declining south swells were a good ride around sunrise; I’ll get a report on how the south swell actually was from friends lattah.

Meanwhile, out at the active lava flow: I was there last night, and as the above photo shows, a moderate plume of steam and chemicals was spewing up as molten lava hit the sea. The biggest change was the largely diminished surface lava we have been watching come down the mountain this past ten days; it was nearly nonexistent by 10:30 PM. There may still be surface flows we could not see further down on the open lava flats; that view is hidden by remnants of forest.

Except for random evening showers, dry & warm air continues over the Hawaiian Islands, and thankfully with that are light winds to keep us from getting muggy/sticky.


Friday, October 16, 2009

No South Swell – Yet & Lava Continues Flowing

(What the skies look like from forty thousand feet above the Pacific near the Hawaiian Islands on days like today :)

Beautiful morning on the southeast shores: warm light breezes from the north by northeast and a few puffy clouds slowly sailing along.

I went down to the local surf spot expecting to see the beginnings of those forecasted large south swells but found the sea was nearly flat. There were six surfers out waiting for them too; one standup paddle boarder guy, two women and three other stand-ups… After about twenty minutes a wave did arrive and three of them took it: center left & right. The rode it to shore, which is a sign they were tired of waiting for the bigger swell to arrive, as was I. But I bet by afternoon there will be some action out there, and more so tomorrow morning.

Out on the active lava flow near Kalapana, the ocean entry continues fairly strong and the plume is still split into two distinct columns. To the north, on the pali above, molten hot surface flows of lava continue slowly advancing toward the coast, but are still above 1000-foot in elevation.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Late Season South Swell heading for the Islands

Maybe we will see surf like the photo above on Saturday!

Southeast shores of the Big Island awoke to clear skies, light northeast breezes and a warm eighty degrees by 10:00 AM. Light winds and dry conditions are set to continue into the weekend.

Ocean swell forecasters are predicting a large southerly swell to begin building along the shores tomorrow at 2 to 3 feet and peaking Saturday at around 8 feet. A south swell of this size in late October is always a surfers delight and if the winds continue as gentle as they are today we should have epic autumn surfing conditions along south & southeast shore breaks.

Last night at the Civil Defense active lava viewing area there was a strong ocean entry plume split into two plumes close together and set against dark rain clouds making for a dramatic scene in the afternoon and at dusk. After dark, orange-red lava colors undulated brightly up from the plumes base. There were a few small explosive sparks shooting out once in awhile.

Lava flowing down the hills to the north of the viewing area continued but remain several miles away from the viewing area and pose no threat to roads.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Southeast Big Island Lava Update - Surf Flat

Above: Visitors walk down the pahoehoe path that leads to the viewing area; a 15 to 20 minute walk one way. Taken at dusk last night. Click on the photo for a larger size and you might spot the partially hidden ‘Caution’ sign :)

Deflation dropped yesterday but bounced back and has since leveled off according to current tiltmeter readings this morning. (See previous post(s) for an indepth explaination) So molten lava will likely continue out onto the flow fields below Pu'u O'o Crater eruption fissures, down the moutain in lava tubes and surface breakouts, ending it’s journey by exploding into the ocean at Waikupanaha.

From the HVO USGS site: “For a second night, the Overlook vent webcam recorded images including a couple of glowing spots on the north wall at about the level to which previous lava pond surfaces rose; this may be a crusted surface or just glowing holes in the wall; in any case, glow was weak but visible from the Jaggar Museum.”

Surf along the southeast shores is very small this morning.

Occational small rain showers are sliding inland once in awhile today, carryied by light NE –to varieable winds.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lava Viewing Area Report & Deflation Begins

(Distant surface lava flow - click on image to see the stars)

After a surprisingly rainless afternoon, a starlight-studded evening out at the active lava viewing area on Monday allowed for hundreds of visitors to enjoy looking up to the distant expanse of surface lava, shown in the image above, as well as the strong lava plume glowing molten lava colors after dark. There was less lava visually seen pouring across the new bench of land into the sea than previous nights, but still spectacular.

Up on the Kilauea eruption zone inflation/deflation tiltmeters began recording a drop in magma pressure at around 7:30 PM, with continued decline this morning. This usually means that the plumbing system of lava will also drop in pressure. In this case meaning the molten lava surface breakout we have been watching flowing down the hills will diminish a little and in the next day or so the lava entering the ocean may also become less powerful. This cycle is fairly common. In the days to come the lava pressures will return, though occasionally there is a complete pause in visually seen molten lava during a deflation period event.

This morning, here on Hawaii Island’s most easterly point of land, skies are cloudy and carrying scattered showers pushed by somewhat cool northeast winds. I’m not sure what the surf condition are like, I may go check it out later.

Here’s a local news clip showing the start of the The 31st running, swimming and biking of the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on Sunday October 11th. 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cooler Temps, wind and Rain for the Southeast side of Big Island

Feels like autumn on this corner of the Big Isle so far today! … had to put a light blanket on early this morning! Rain showers all morning so far and gusty winds too, but looking at the radar images for the island it seems it is only on my house, the local surf spots and the lava viewing area that are getting dumped on!… So maybe later things will clear up…. Probably will.

Last night out at the lava viewing area visitors were again treated to a wonderful display: a river of bright orange-red molten lava flowing across the new bench below the massive, sometimes exploding, plume, and a mile wide area inland of surface flows of lava coming down the hillsides. Though it was a rain-free night during the viewing hours from 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM, it began raining at 9:35, at the very time I had planned on taking photos of the large & expanding surface flows…. Oh well—next time.

Sensitive tilt meters around Kilauea volcano’s Halema'uma'u & Pu'u O'o Crater’s continue registering slight inflation. This can mean continued pressure of lava through the labyrinth of tubes feeding the eruption.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

To The Max

Pictured above is Max sitting on a County Civil Defense barricade with his rainbowed Hawaiian Shave Ice. Max and his older brother Miles are waiting with their parents for the 5:00 PM opening of the path out to the lava viewing area last night. The other photo shows visitors starting up the path.

Max and his family were treated to a wonderful display of Pele’s magic: a large plume that after dark created explosions of sparks high into the sky, rivers of lava pouring across the ever widening delta/bench (see yesterday’s report), and the continued broad surface lava coming moving down the hills directly above the parking and viewing areas.

It did not rain out there for a change, though later we had a few overnight showers, this morning dawning mostly cloudy with light Trade Winds and about 80*.

The inflation stage up under the Kilauea volcano continues, though it is not too strong and presently leveling off according to deformation tilting meters linked above. This should translate into surface and ocean entry lava views similar to last night.

Surf along the southeast shores remains small but surfable.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lots of Glowing Lava – Aerial Photos and Map

USGS aerial photos above show the latest new land being created at the Waikupanaha active lava ocean entry. This the same location visitors are looking toward from the Civil Defense viewing area, which lies ¾ of a mile to the east. I have added some text to identify specific areas & action. (click on any posted photo for a larger size)

Last night visitors I spoke with at the vendors area, who hiked out to the viewing area, reported a large steam plume and being able to see brightly glowing lava pouring off the outer edge of this delta into the sea, accompanied by occasional explosions of sparks blasting red-orange into the night sky.

Surface flows of lava above the viewing area were broad and strong as they continue to spread out and move fairly quickly down slope. This much surface flow has not been seen there in over a year. If these new lava flows continue we may have an exciting view as it nears the parking & viewing areas. I am sure all the Kalapana Gardens homes stuck out there on the open lava nearby have a nervous eye on the flows progression.

Surf on our southeast shorelines here is about waist high and mornings have been very calm, providing for some short-clean sunrise rides. Afternoons have had some light wind-chop.

Mostly sunny, low eighties with light Trade breezes becoming variable at times is what’s happening right now and seems the plan for the day.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lightning Storm Causes Emergency Evacuation of Lava Viewing area

(Today’s photo above showing this morning’s volcanic haze, or vog)

Yesterday, late afternoon out at the lava viewing area started out mellow… Muggy without our Trade winds… Then heavy rain began to fall. This did not dissuade hundreds of visitors from continuing out on the trail to witness lava entering the sea; some with umbrellas, some with cheap rain ponchos, many others in wet shirts but still smiling, “It’s Hawaii!” they would call out. Then about 7:30 PM, a time when most visitors have walked the ¾ mile lava trail to the viewing area, heavier rains came down, followed shortly by massive lightning flashes and booming thunder. Simultaneously, strong gusts of wind from the west blasted, and that changed the massive, and heavily toxic lava plume to quickly switch directions laying it down over the large crowd of people out there. That is when Civil Defense personnel got on their blow horns and told everyone gathered to leave immediately.

The crowds, now breathing in some sulfur dioxide and soaking wet, still had to walk the same raw pahoehoe lava path, now in dark of a storm, back to reach the parking area as the lightning continued flashing, accompanied by strong gusts and heavy rains. I watched them parade by; some wondering how much danger they were in; what exactly was the danger?: “Was it the lightning? Or the toxic fumes? Or was there molten lava coming down close by?” Yet in the chaos, some were trying to purchase items from vendors, vendors who were madly holding down, or dismantling flapping & wet display canopies; comical scene altogether. ---- Not long after everyone drove away, the storm stopped as suddenly as it had begun and it was back to calm & muggy and the viewing area was closed, and the lava kept quietly flowing and glowing red in the distance.

Lava flow
Despite the intense deflation recorded by the Kilauea Volcano summit tiltmeters, as I reported on yesterday, the lava flowing out on the mountainside and into the sea was surprisingly pretty strong. Inflation has once again started tweaking back up, but it will take part of a day to re-pressurize the lava tube plumbing system.

Sweet surfable waves are rolling onto the southeast shore steadily at around two to four feet and glassy conditions.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Widespread Volcanic Haze (Vog) – Sharp Deflation Shutting Down Lava Flow

Photo above taken yesterday afternoon on the lava road that leads to the Civil Defense viewing area parking & trailhead -(SE terminus of highway 130)

Tiltmeters up on Kilauea Volcano summit and the Pu`u O`o crater are continuing to record strong deflation deformation. This translates to a slight collapsing, deforming, of the land from one side to the other of these craters. This data, in turn, means the pressure of the magma below these craters is dropping, which then causes the lava erupting on the surface, and running to the coast through the labyrinth of tubes, to slow down. Continuation of this trend may even stop the entire eruption of lava.The cessation of erupting lava is not too unusual for Kilauea; it happened a couple weeks ago too for 2 days.

Today and tonight will likely not provide any opportunity for people to witness firsthand the lava entering the sea; between the lack of lava and the variable winds pushing plume fumes in all directions, the Civil Defense viewing area will most likely be closed. But you can phone them at (808) 961-8093 to find out. They often announce any changes around 2:00 PM HST. That said, I can still see a moderate plume of lava generated steam rising from the Waikupanaha ocean entry site as I write.
EDIT NOTE: At around 1:30 PM HST Civil Defense announced the lava viewing area is open

Out at the lava viewing area a few nights ago I met a local Hawaiian man who was recounting his memories of watching huge lava fountains in 1959 up in Kilauea Iki crater and a month later down on the coast at the town of Kapoho. The entire town of Kapoho was destroyed by lava fountains & flows; all in just 33 days. If you haven’t watched the four history clips of that eruption I recommend you do. Here is the link to: The Eruption of Kilauea 1959-1960
Also this page gives a detailed history of the 1960 eruption at Kapoho with some photos. My home is on the very edge of rough A`a lava left behind in 1960.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Large Lava Plumes Rise High Into Blue Skies - but deflation period begins

The USGS inflation/deflation (Deformation) graph pictured above shows a sharp drop in lava pressure within the Kilauea Volcano. This will translate on the ground as a weaker lava flow to the sea by tonight.

Muggy was the word for yesterday and for a one-to-none bed sheet night. But this morning dawned with the blessing of a slightest of Trade breezes.

The almost lack of wind caused the plume from the lava ocean entry to rise nearly straight up for close to two thousand feet this morning , making it look huge even from my upper lanai eighteen miles away.

The same was reported on the US Geological Survey’s Kilauea eruption website this morning regarding the sulfur dioxide plume rising high from the active vent on the floor of Halema`uma`u crater.

I did not make it out to the Waikupanaha coastal lava viewing area last night but here is a direct quote from this mornings USGS update page:
“Last night, CD (Civil Defense) officials reported another beautiful viewing night with lava entering the ocean across a beach; surface flows were active high on the pali (within the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision) and was moving eastward and down the pali (cliffs).”
I will go out there tonight and check it out.

Surf here along the east & southeast is fairly quite at 1 to 3 feet, but reports from Oahu are expecting a solid north swell.

4:30 PM update: The Civil Defense closed the lava viewing area at 4:00PM due to light & variable winds bending the large and toxic plume back over the viewing area. Toxins in the plume are many; with the worst ones being sulfur dioxide, glass particles and hydrochloric acid. The acid rains down from the plume like fine raindrops but burns the eyes even at a mile or two from the ocean entry. Floating glass fragments destroy lungs…. This is why we have a ‘safe viewing area’.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jupiter & Ocean Entry Lava Plume Last Night

I took this photo last night from the trailhead leading to the ¾ of a mile lava walk out to the Civil Defense official viewing area. Visitors from the world over that I spoke with reported witnessing large explosions of lava shooting high up & out the base of lava flowing into the sea.

Hawaii weather office was forecasting the possibility of thunder storms and heavy rain last night, yet here on the southeast corner of the Big Island we saw no rain; only Jupiter shining brightly overhead and a large moon dancing between wafting Trade clouds – Muggy but otherwise a beautiful evening.

Today we awoke to a still, gray & humid sky blanket of cloud and volcanic haze. A moist and unstable air mass remains over the islands today and forecasters continue warning of the possibility of thunderstorms with heavy rain today through tonight.

Here is a cool view of the Northeast Pacific water vapor loop hosted by NOAA Satellite and Information Service. The view shown will be updated every hour but it currently shows the disturbed convection around the Hawaiian Islands. A closer look at that can also be seen here .

Monday, October 5, 2009

Waves To Myself

(This photo shows the same spot and surf conditions as today, but taken aother time)

I jumped in the ocean today to catch some rides. I was the only one out at Shacks. The reason others were not was likely the sea conditions were minimal for surfing… Well not quite minimal: short period easterly-wrap wind waves were occasionally mixed with some pretty good southeast swells, and those are the ones I waited for. The light wind chop was not too bad either… and the sun was out and about 81*!

All the Hawaiian Islands are under a Flash Flood Watch yet it is only partly cloudy, light winds and very little shower activity on the local radar screens… But I suppose the weather pro’s must be calculating something I can’t find…

Meanwhile up in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Pele's hale (home) the crater is doing cool things: (From the USGS site --
"This Quicktime movie shows the disappearance of the lava pond deep within the Halema'uma'u Crater vent cavity during the early morning hours of October 3. The lava surface undergoes two filling and draining cycles, and then retreats to deeper levels in the conduit, completely out of view, around 2 am." -- (It can take 30-seconds to load these Quicktime clips)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Harvest Lava Full Moon at the Viewing Area

(Click on photos for larger size)

After a beautiful sunset, people streaming out on the three quarter mile lava trail to the official viewing area not only witnessed a strong ocean entry lava plume but also watched a full harvest moon rise out of the Pacific. And as darkness grew, they also could look far up the mountain toward the Pu`u O`o eruption zone and see a broad surface breakout of orange-red lava; as shown in the photo above I took last night with a telephoto lens. A couple of days ago geologists with the US Geological Survey explored this same area, which is within the now long-abandoned and destroyed Royal Gardens subdivision, and they documented this pouring of pahoehoe molten lava. The clip really shows the fluid-viscous nature of pahoehoe. (This is a QuickTime video and uploads rather slow the 1st time).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Heavy Rains Abate – Halema'uma'u Crater Vent Dims – Large Lava Plume at Ocean

A wide and powerful plume of steam and sulfur dioxide is billowing into the leftover rain clouds this morning, as viewed from my home eighteen miles away. I would guess this is a result of more lava coming down under higher inflation - pressure generated from the Kilauea Volcano and pouring out onto the widening new lava bench at the shoreline. I will go take a closer look tonight and report here tomorrow morning on this.

The view from my home here at the easterly tip of the Big Island of the lava plume, or anything else, has been obscured for nearly two days because of waves of heavy rains pushed at times by some gusty winds and cooler temperatures—Almost like the first wave of a Hawaiian autumn!
… Until this morning —Rains have ceased (for now), and there are some patches of blue poking through, and the choppy seas are settling down.

The volcanologists up on the rim of Halema'uma'u Crater are reporting that a partial collapse of more of the edge of the expanding vent on the craters floor has caused a reduction in the vent de-gassing fumes and also created less glow at night coming from the pool of lava deep within the vent hole. The broiling pond of lava rises up and down as well, and is currently down.

I am curious if the large surface flows of lava we witnessed a few days ago are continuing... I will go take a look tonight at that too If the rains stay away for awhil longer.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rain and Cooler Temps Slow Down All the Fun

Body Boarder at Pohoiki (click on any post photo for a larger image)

Wind & Rain sure did take my outside plans away both yesterday and today; at least here on the Southeast side of the Big Island. The aina (land) needs rain for sure but all the fun stuff like lava viewing and surfing was not as nice to do… but I’m a fair-weather surfer kinda guy… I imagine others enjoyed the day anyway.

So I did not see the beach or the lava entry for the last 24-hours. But I did come across a little local flavor for you: Our infamous area councilwoman speaks up about local kids drinking and driving too fast down at our favorite surf spot on this side of the island, and what she did about it - and what she wants done. In the clip you will see some nice video of this beach park and surf breaks.

I have spent a lot of time at the shoreline she is concerned about and I feel that most of the time the locals hangin there self-police the area really well: they place “SLOW DOWN” barrels in the middle of the road, and as they sit on the roadside picnic tables they will call-out at anybody driving too fast. But sometimes, like on weekends, some of da bruddahs do get a little rowdy, but daht seems pretty normal to me…

... Emily makes some good points as only she can: on this link