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

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