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:

1 comment:

  1. Aloha Leigh,

    Bo here. I don't know how late you stayed last night, but from my house there was also quite a show at TEB, especially in the wee hours. I awoke around 6 AM and there were four very bright skylights from just west of TEB, and they changed as I watched them. Man, I thought I was going to be seeing a river coming down the pali any minute. I was watching Pu'u 'O'o around the same time as you, noticing the fires moving left to right, right to left almost like waves. Lots of action!