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:

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