Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nice line of lava on the pali growing stronger ~ Strong inflation spike

(Click on this photo to see a larger size)
Trees burned as a narrow line of molten lava continues to slowly plow its way down the western edge of remnant Royal Gardens and proceed further down the pali towards the sea. The southern tip appears to be near the 1000-foot elevation now. I purposely included the Civil Defense barricades to give perspective. The photo was taken at the trailhead of the Hawaii County lava viewing area. For a comparison you could look at the daytime image of the area I posted yesterday.

USGS/HVO magma deformation monitors are showing strong inflation that has soared up beginning 24-hours ago

The pressure seems to already be lessening but it still has already put a nice boast of more lava into the surface flow on the pali, which will likely continue tonight and tomorrow. Even while I was watching the lava on the pali and taking photos last night, I could see new bright lava glows appearing high up on the edge of the pali near the 1700-fot elevation. These can be seen on the upper right of the photo above.

Halema’uma’u Crater was looking well defined this morning as seen on the USGS/HVO Jaggar cam.

And the new inflation spike also brought the Halema’uma’u pit vent back to life with brighter glow as the evening went by. I spoke with visitors who were there just after dark and some who were there later in the evening; just in that time their reports went from slight glow to strong glow. So tonight, if weather & fumes cooperate, crater glow could be bright.

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s Volcano Awareness Month ends today. They presented some outstanding programs, seminars, media presentations, as well as informative hikes & workshops. I want to thank all the staff there for their dedication, ongoing studies and for offering so much to the people of Hawaii and beyond. Our understanding of this world wonder we live on - the world’s most active volcano - is greatly improved by all those who study its geological diverse aspects.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Volcano activity weak ~ Winds pushing out the vog

(Click on the image for a larger size)

The photos above I took yesterday of the lower lava flow fields. This is the area the Waikupanaha ocean entry lava tubes run down through. In fact one of them continues to fume even though it has been nearly a month since they deposited lava into the ocean. The text on the photos describes the scene. I did not stay until dark but reports from there say molten lava glow is still being seen in the areas where the forest smoke is in the photos. The USGS/HVO has just posted a great set of aerial views looking down at, and close to, the lands in Royal Gardens where the lava is now flowing; as well as photos showing the broader eruption site and upper flow fields – views impossible to see otherwise.

As the USGS deformation graphs indicate, the very low deflation we are having now will not likely help to increase the lava activity, though a slight up-tic of pressure under Halema’uma’u at posting time is taking place. Also likely affected by the low magma pressures is the night viewing intensity of the lava lake deep down inside the pit vent within Halema’uma’u Crater in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which have weakened considerably since the new deflation event began a few days ago.

Weak southwesterly winds have wafted the sulfur dioxide fumes inland the past few days. The National Park Services special air sensor site has registered some very high toxin levels recently, here are January 27 & January 29th: Changing winds will clear the air over the next week. The darkest colors on the chart indicate hazardous 5.0 ppm SO2 levels or higher.

If you catchment-dependant people are wondering whether you should order a tanker full of water, you could take a look at this National Weather Service Hawaii radar loop to see if rain is coming to your roof. Parts of Oahu, Molokai and Maui got a pretty good, and much needed, dumping last night. A flood advisory was issued at 10:00 PM last night, ending a few hours later.

One of the more interesting satellite imageries is the Northwest Pacific Water vapor loop

*Little to no lava will be seen on the lower active flow fields today or tonight.
*Halema’uma’u Crater pit vent may offer only a slight glow after dark.
*New weather systems from the north will push out the vog and bring a few scattered showers to the Big Island.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Full Moon ~ Light Voggy Breeze ~ Bell-curve DI pattern


Tonight’s full moon will be the closest to the earth for this year, and the planet Mars will be seen fairly near to the moon.

USGS HVO deformation graphs reveal another serous deflationary stage. I was wondering what the recent series of bell-curve-like deformation changes might look strung together. There may be a site that has them lined up nicely but I could not easily locate one so I threw together the graphs I had on file: (Click on this image to see a larger size)

Little change on the flow field lava; I will go check it out ...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

For The Record

I publish the blog as a community service; a place people can come to get the essential pulse of the Big Island’s weather, surf and volcano information all in one place without having to search multiple sites to receive it.

My intention is to share my first-hand accounts of weather, surf and the lava viewing conditions, often accompanied with my photographs, and combining these field notes & photos with other sources. For the volcano information these other sources are wide-ranging: I have many supportive friends that are involved with the Kilauea volcano in various capacities; pilots, National Park field rangers, Civil Defense personnel, local residents living either near the National Park or in the Kalapana area, other photographers, and even reports from visitors to the active flow fields. For surf and weather reports I often receive phone calls from friends on all the islands.

To this array of first-hand information I add highlights from some of the elaborate public information sites posted daily; such as on the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory pages, as well as the from the National Park Service, and I may also include at times other reports on weather and surfing from the National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

On the bottom right side of this blog page I have many of these public information sites listed for everyone to bookmark or visit. When appropriate, I also include any information I share on this site with a direct link to the source highlighted in blue font like this; not always but nearly always. If you cruise back through my past postings you will see this is the case.

There are times when my first hand accounts will read nearly the same as another sites post and that is simply because we are both observing the same event. If I do use text from another site I credit them and put the information in quotes.

I am writing all the above because last night I received a bunch of comments on my blog postings by one person bent on bashing me and accusing me of plagiarism, stealing others content etc. I am not sure what their motivation for this could possibly be, nor do I care, because I know it is misguided and coming from intentions other than honorable. What I do care about is to deliver accurate updates on our amazing volcano activity, weather & surf events, and to share my passion for these Big Island events, and my love of photography, with anyone visiting this blog or my photography site.

I have zero advertising on this site and I do that proudly and with intent. There are too many sites on the web touting volcano information, even including some of the same links I offer, but their sites are often very cluttered with all sorts advertising and I find that unneeded and annoying. I do not make a dime from offering what I do here.

I spend about one hour each morning gathering the pertinent information for each posting: creating informative graphics and/or photographs, reading email reports from my contributing friends or taking phone calls from them and writing scripts and text. I am out on the active lava flow fields nearly daily and often well into the night. I have been hiking and photographing the lava activity for twelve years and so I also draw on my intimate study of this ongoing geology as well.

If my efforts here have somehow irked even one of my readers, I apologize and hope they can get over their problem with the ways & means I offer my information here, and find something more constructive to do than bashing the messenger and his methods. One result is having to now moderate comments on my site, something I had never considered before.

For all you others - thank you for your supportive comments and emails!; it does help to know you have found some value in my posts here.

May the lava flow safely to the sea again soon,
I am going surfing now,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Weak Magma pressure weakens further ~ Little change on the flow fields

January 2010 may have been designated Volcano Month but it has so far manifested as Active Lava Flow Viewing Cessation Month; and there are no indications this situation will be changing anytime soon.

There has been, though, some great viewing of the Halema’uma’u Crater glowing brightly after dark this past month; except the times when winds pushed sulfur dioxide fumes onto spectators, or when the broiling lava lake deep down inside the pit vent gets crusted over.

Summary of the last 24 hours:
*Halema’uma’u glow was again visible from Jaggar museum last night.

*No active lava is flowing into the ocean but some surface lava could be seen after dark at the 1500 foot elevation: the west edge of the now lava-destroyed Royal Gardens subdivision.

*Pressures within the magma reservoirs beneath Kilauea Volcano have begun dropping again according to deformation monitors located at Halema’uma’u and Pu`u O`o; further slowing the lava currently erupting from the TEB site, its tube system and visible breakouts on the pali.

* Southwesterly winds continue sending sulfur dioxide fumes inland over the Big Island.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pali lava continues glowing ~ Magma pressures flat

Breezes from the southwest are pushing sulfur dioxide fumes inland this morning. The composite image above was captured from the Jaggar Museum webcam at 10:00 AM this morning.

DI-Deflation/Inflation continues flat-lined at the zero line. This does not mean there is no magma pressure; it indicates a weakened and stable state of pressure beneath the Kilauea Caldera magma reservoirs.

Lava continues erupting from the TEB site near Pu`u O`o crater vent and is flowing through tubes for about two miles at which point it is surfacing on the edge of the broad pali at two widely separate locations: one along the western edge of old Royal Gardens subdivision, and another far east of there. The eastern breakout appears to have stalled last night, which should be of some relief to homeowners directly below in Kalapana Gardens. The western lava breakout was visible after dark last night; looking similar to, but not nearly as bright, as the photos I took of the area last week:

No actively flowing lava is reaching the ocean at this time, nor has it for about three weeks now; the longest pause by far in the 22 months it was flowing into the sea at Waikupanaha. Lava glow can still be seen after dark high up the mountain just below the cliffs and in the forest. Halema’uma’u continues putting on a nice evening glow from the crater’s pit vent, depending on wind direction for the toxic fumes coming from it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Molten lava visible on pali ~ DI-Deflation/Inflation stalls

A lazily rising sulfur dioxide plume rises into the vog filled air at Halema’uma’u this morning.

I was not out at the County viewing area last night but those that were reported they could still see active molten lava lobes after dark. Also, USGS thermal imagery recorded small but strong lava flow in two locations above and near to the edge of the pali; as viewed from the coast a few miles below.

The stalled DI -Deflation/Inflation represents a weak but stable movement of magma below Kilauea Caldera and lava from the eruption site near Pu`u O`o. So that may support the active lava on the flow fields above, and on the edge of the pali; allowing partial views of molten lava after dark in the County viewing area tonight.

Air quality in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been good & bad off & on this morning:

Halema’uma’u Crater reportedly had intermittent strong glow last night and early this morning. If wind directions cooperate, tonight might also offer visitors a chance to see this active lava vent’s red glow being displayed; especially from the Jaggar Museum balcony overlook.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is open all night.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Inflation continues ~ Halema’uma’u glowing at night ~ Spotty surface flow

(Early Edition 11 PM the 23rd; I will be unavailable for my usual 11-AM posting)

I was down at the Hawaii County lava viewing area along with the random visitors gathered, and we did not see any active lava from there. But, after dark, further east a short ways at Kalapana Gardens we could see a line of glowing orange & red lava perched along the edge of the pali several miles upslope. This lava is the first to show again as a result of the current inflation stage. This glowing line of lava looked identical to another line that appeared at the same location last week. Here is the photo I took of that lava.

Rangers at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park reported a bright glow from the Halema’uma’u Crater last night around 7-PM, and this likely continued. The vog was apparently not too bad at that time.

Here is the graphs showing the inflation taking place as I write this:
Click on this to get the current graph for right now.

Weak inflation returns ~ Hazardous fumes Yesterday

Well when you can’t find active lava you can always go surfing here.

Sulfur dioxide levels reached hazardous levels yesterday afternoon, according to the National Park Service & USGS air quality monitors site.
The dark purple & browns represents ppm SO2 over 5.0 -- very hazardous to humans. There is some widespread vog today, but not as intense as yesterday.

Here is the USGS deformation graphs as of 10:00 AM this morning. After three full days being flat-lined, we have a weak return of magma pressures being recorded.There is still some molten lava red glows to be seen after dark from the County viewing area at the end of highway 130, but it remains at a distance for now. Perhaps it will begin to flow stronger and come down the pali farther if this inflation continues in the days to come. No lava is entering the ocean, and hasn’t for three weeks now.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Magma pressure flat lines ~ The Hawaiian Hot-spot ~ Vog… again

Deformation graphs are displaying new territory: a virtually total lack of magma pressure. If this were a heartbeat monitor we would be hearing that dreaded sustained tone of a flat-lining patient. But of course this is Pele and she has been creating island after island right here at this location for an estimated 80-million years and is not likely to stop anytime soon.

The Hawaiian Hotspot (Excerpts from my new lava photography book being published now):
The Hawaiian Hotspot is a weak section within the Earths mantle that allows magma to plume, or slice the Earth’s crust. The islands of Hawai'i are riding atop the Pacific Plate: the oceanic tectonic plate beneath the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Plate is the seafloor and in Hawai'i it is constantly moving in a northwesterly direction at an average of 49 miles per million years (about 3 or 4 inches per year).

As the Pacific Plate moves along, the hotspot has formed landmass after landmass - creating this chain of islands named the Hawaiian Archipelago. The Hawaiian Archipelago is a volcanic ridge of islands and atolls approximately 1,600 miles long. When we include the underwater portion of this contiguous chain of ridges it is then named the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain and the length becomes nearly 3,600 miles, and many millions of years in the making.

Here, under my house, under this Big Island, the Hawaiian hotspot is permanently stationed. Oddly, the location of this upwelling of magma through the mantle does not change; it does not move off with its northwesterly parade of islands. Instead it continually slices like a laser of inner molten earth up into, and through, the Pacific Plate itself. This nearly continuous pluming of magma slowly creates underwater volcanoes that can eventually reach the ocean’s surface at up to 19,000 feet above the seafloor - just as the Big Island has - thus forming the next island in the chain.

From the perspective of humans and linear time, this birthing of islands is a very long and drawn out process. The Hawaiian hot spot has been building islands, atolls and seamounts for about 80 million years. The spectacularly sculptured-by-time Na Pali Coast Mountains of Kauai, our eldest island neighbor situated 250 miles to the northwest, were formed on this very hot spot about 5 million years ago. Only 3,000 feet below the ocean surface a new seamount volcano is erupting just offshore 26 miles south of my home and is already named Lo'ihi… the next Hawaiian Island…

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s (HVO) Jaggar webcam reveals the lack of wind this morning I am also seeing here at my house; and with it, the widespread vog in all directions.

Reports from the active lava flow fields as viewed from the end of highway 130, the Hawaii County viewing area, are bleak. Only a few small, glowing, lava spots could be seen on the pali far away; likely a result of the surface lava being reduce by this current deflationary stage.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bottomed-out deflation ~ Kilauea GPS observation ~ Pit Vent video

The deformation graphs reveal deflation has leveled out at a very low range (-7 to -9).
As expected, these low magma pressures are manifesting as a lessening of eruptive lava from the Pu`u O`u fissure field and corresponding surface flows of molten lava makai (toward the sea) of there. Reports from those looking mauka (inland) from the Kalapana Gardens area after dark last night confirm a lessoning of surface lava in the areas I photographed and posted yesterday.

The five days of strong inflation of magma that was recorded between January 15 & 20th was strong enough to also be registered on the USGS GPS graphs (scroll down on that site to see it).
The above chart is an interesting record provided by USGS and is their Global Positioning System (GPS) that is graphing the change in distance between two stations located on opposite ides of KÄ«lauea's caldera. A rapid increase in distance can be interpreted as inflation of the summit magma reservoir. This graphs is from today, and note the two up-tics; one in July 2008 and the other right now – both indicate rapid and strong inflation.
July 2008 was when we had some of the most intense lava explosions entering the ocean at Waikupanaha. Below are two images I took from the County viewing area on July 14&17th 2008:

And Static lighting flashing inside the plume July 17th, 2008:

And a zoomed in shot the same night:
I wonder if this pronounced up-tic on the GPS graph indicates what we were watching, until the 20th -- the strong surface flows of lava this week -- was the beginning of a similar episode of extra strong eruption with the potential of the dramatic results we witnessed during July’s 2008 episode. The new surface flows of molten lava came downhill fairly fast and in several areas of the mountain at once. Deflation has ended, for now, the chance to know for sure how those flows would play out.

Video: Shot from a helicopter January 7th & 13th, this Quicktime movie clip, using a thermal camera, shows the entire floor of the Halema`uma`u vent and the spectacular lava movement. USGS:“The first half of the video shows observations on January 7, when a dome fountain on the floor of the vent cavity was feeding a wide, vigorously flowing lava stream towards the north. The second half of the video shows observations on January 13, at which point the lava stream had disappeared and two degassing holes were active.”

Lava activity within the Kilauea Crater pit vent has also lessened; glow from there last night was greatly diminished from previous nights this past week.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Waikupanaha lava ocean entry over? ~ Major deflation

Setting moon and stars hover above the broad crest of the pali as molten lava moves into view. I took this photo, and the ones below, yesterday and last night from the end of highway 130 - the trailhead to the Hawaii County lava viewing area. My added text in the photos should help identify what we are seeing. (Click on the photos to see a larger size)

Major deflation of magma pressures below the Halema’uma’u & Pu`u O`o craters began just after I posted my blog yesterday. In the past a drop of pressure this strong is what severed the ocean entry of lava at Waikupanaha a couple weeks ago. So we will likely see a slowing of these new surface flows shown in my photos.

While I was out at the viewing area I spoke with Civil Defense personnel and they reported seeing a 30-second long puff of steam shoot up along the shore out front by Waikupanaha. And again, a few hours later another short-lived plume puff was seen further west on the shoreline near Kupap`u. These two ocean entries, particularly Waikupanaha, have been actively depositing molten lava into the sea since March 6th, 2008 – were these two steam puffs their dying display? … Perhaps.

But--- from my lanai this morning I could see a fuzzy steam plume out that way. It did not last long and I am eighteen miles away so I phoned Blue Hawaiian Helicopter tours, who had just flown over this area an hour ago, and they reported seeing some light steam and ocean water decolorizing near the Kupapa`u area AND a narrow surface flow of lava about a mile inland from there…. What they are seeing may be an overnight extension of the surface flow in my photos above.

An earthquake near Pahala on Monday, 18th has been upgraded to a magnitude 4.3. The U.S. Geological Survey initially estimated that the 1:01 p.m. temblor on the south flank of Mauna Loa was a 3.8. It was felt across most of the island, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Here is the sunset over the Hawaii County viewing area trailhead last night:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Two surface lava flows appear on pali – East & west of Royal Gardens

Lava from the "TEB" (Thanksgiving Eve breakout lava flow November 21st, 2007) vent flows through the upper tube system and feeds surface flows above the pali.

We have been watching the leading edge of an advancing surface flow of lava high up the mountain above the Kalapana terminus of highway 130 for the past three days. Visually, this flow appears to be above and to the west edge of the old Royal Gardens subdivision; miles away and seen only as lava glow off clouds and lately forest can be seen flaring up into flames. Last night while looking at this flow we still could not see the lava itself, but almost.

As I was leaving the end of 130 at 10:00 PM last night I glanced back up the mountain and was totally surprised to see molten lava appearing on the crest of the pali - far east of the other tree-burning flow to the west.
I will let the text on these photos detail these two flows:(Click on any image for a larger size)

The deformation graph shown below shows a continued gradual deflation of magma pressures below Kilauea. The pressures appear to still be strong enough to keep lava pouring out the eruption vents near Pu`u O`o:

Strong glow was visible again from the Jaggar Museum Overlook overnight (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park). This strong glow was recorded by webcam from locations on the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater overnight. USGS reports the broiling molten lava surface within the crater pit vent rose to its highest level in at least a year.

3.8 quake near Pahala Monday, January 18, 2010 at 1:01:35 PM (HST)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Molten lava burning forest west of Royal Gardens –heading toward the sea

The photo above I took last night from the Hawaii County viewing area trailhead at 10:00 PM. Low clouds reflect molten lava glow above the new surface flow erupting from the Pu`u O`o site, and the yellow areas are burning forests.

The intensity and length of the glow indicate a large and hot surface flow of lava. The image below is a photo I took in December showing the fuming line of lava tubes running down the pali (cliffs). The tubes were, at that time, carrying lava to Waikupanaha where it poured into the ocean. I am using this image to indicate where I believe the present surface flow is located on the mountain; where the forest was burning last night:

Those gathered at the trailhead witnessed large fireballs of yellow flames as the lava burned through remnant forest high atop the pali. The lava significantly advanced seaward during the six hours I was there. Another measurement was the difference between the lava cloud-glow image I posted two days ago compared with the one at the top of the page above. If this new surface continues to be pressurized from the magma reservoirs beneath Kilauea, we should be able to visually see surface lava flowing down the distant pali tonight after dark (about thee miles away).

I spoke with island visitors at the Hawaii County viewing area last night who had earlier in the evening reported enjoying a strong lava glow within the Halema’uma’u Crater
and were afterwards watching in awe as the new surface flow ignited kipuka (remnants from past lava flows) forests and lit the clouds into the red orbs shown on my opening photo of this posting.

Deformation tiltmeters are currently recording deflation of magma at both Halema’uma’u and Pu`u O`o, but doing so a gradual rate; there appears to still be a strong pressure remaining and pushing lava out the eruption site:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Code Purple at the HVM Park ~ Lava erupting at Pu`u O`o downrift fissures

Gates to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Kilauea Volcano entrance were locked early this morning due to very high sulfur dioxide emissions reaching hazardous levels of over 5.0 ppm SO2 levels within the park and beyond. Hawaii Civil Defense announced warnings about this over the radio as well.
The air in the park has since cleared somewhat and may be open now.

Park staff contributed this photo of a vogged-out Halema’uma’u at dawn this morning:

USGS Hawaiian Observatory Update: Lava from the TEB vent flowed through the upper tube system and fed at least two surface flows but was apparently not getting beyond that to the pali and coastal plain. MODIS images recorded prominent thermal anomalies centered at the 520 m (1,700 ft) elevation yesterday afternoon. CD officials reported glow above the pali yesterday evening but no activity below. Webcams picked up at least two surface flows emerging from the tube above the top of the pali overnight. GOES-WEST imagery recorded a strong thermal anomaly through dawn.

So it seems there are continued surface flows at the Pu`u O`o eruption site but this lava is far from any accessible viewpoints at this time. In the past year this eruption site has ceased then resumed flowing from this location and has reentered the established lava tubes that carry the lava to the ocean. But with this cessation period the lava has stopped flowing through these tubes for over a week now; it is possible they have become blocked. These new surface flows are, at present, being driven by a higher than normal pressure and could possibly bypass the lower section of the old tubes and come over the top of the pali and down the mountain towards the sea at a more rapid rate than we have seen since the start of this Waikupanaha entry began in February-March 2008. It would be an exciting show to witness again if it does that!… Meanwhile we have to sit back and wait to see what Pele decides to do.

Here is how those rivers looked last year:

The deformation graphs continue show a strong overall magma pressure that has leveled off and deflated a little overnight:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Magma pressure strong ~ Halema’uma’u glows brightly again ~ Very high surf warning

After dark last night I was standing on the trailhead of the Hawaii County lava-viewing-area (at the Kalapana end of highway 130) to survey for any molten lava activity. There was none to be seen other than this fuzzy red lava glow reflecting off the mauka clouds far up the pali towards the Pu`u O`o eruption site, as this photo I took shows: Yep that was it; not much to see.

Reports from web cams up on the mountain, and from pilots, describe some hot & active surface flows of lava. If these new flows are reaching and reclaiming the pre-existing lava tube system, it is yet to be seen down slope from there.

Inflationary pressures beneath Kilauea Caldera, including the Pu`u O`o crater remain quit elevated at this time, though the Halema’uma’u pressure has leveled off, as shown of this mornings deformation graph:

Last night I watched the three cams that aim at the active vents: two aimed at Halema’uma’u and one at Pu`u O`o. All three were showing very bright lava glows late into the night. Below are two captures from the Halema’uma’u cams: A broiling lake of molten lava.

The more distant cam view from the Jaggar Museum.

Volcanoes Observatory reports that a possible rock fall subdued the crater pit vent at around 1:40 AM but glow returned afterwards.