Saturday, January 9, 2010

What goes up ….....

A pronounced raise and fall of magma pressures underneath Kilauea Volcano, as shown on the USGS deformation graph above, has brought our hopes of seeing a return to molten lava flowing strongly into the sea on a ride the same shape as this bell-curve: soaring way up and deflating way down.

Since New Years Day we have seen our usually impressive ocean entry lava flow on the Big Islands southeast shores go from robust to complete stoppage. There has been virtually no molten lava visible at the Hawaii County lava viewing area for week now; the longest cessation in the twenty months that lava flow has been running at the Waikupanaha location. So when the inflation of magma suddenly returned in earnest Thursday the 7th, we fully expected a strong return of molten lava on the surface, followed by a re-filling of the pre-established lava tube system.

We only got the first part. Thursday evening, as magma pressures surged, a strong appearance of lava glow was visible far up the mountain as seen from the coastal viewing area at the end of highway 130. Last night that glow was so bright it was visible from my home 18 miles away… But also last night, around 8:30 PM, a major deflation of magma/lava pressures, as graphed above, robbed us of both the new surface flow lava advancing within view, and our hopes of a strong return of it flowing into the ocean.

That said, there is still a possibility some molten lava reentered the lava tubes and may trickle down to the coast tonight. I say this because there was such a strong resurgence of lava over the last 48-hours and it takes 12 or more hours to reach the sea that some of it may be on the way into the labyrinth of tubes right now. Or maybe I’m just being hopeful…. We will only know for sure by being there to watch for it tonight.

The best volcano show this week has been Pele’s own home: Halema’uma’u Crater within the Kilauea Caldera – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. That is until the winds shifted and caused dense volcanic haze, or vog, to ruin the viewing fun at the Jaggar Museum. This new deflation may also reduce the strong lava glows inside the Halema’uma’u pit vent that we have enjoyed the past few days.

If anything new develops I will add an update to this posting later.

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