Thursday, September 30, 2010

~ Kona winds send toxins inland ~ Viewing area closed ~

County coastal lava viewing area with large plume hanging over it. Courtesy of local source.

Here is a screen-capture of the Halema’uma’u crater cam showing the thick vog blanketing the national park

Both the Halema’uma’u crater (above) in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the toxic steam plume and associated lava tube gases are wafting inland from the southwest towards the northeast.

Hawaii County Civil Defense shut down the lava viewing area on the coast today, as they had done late yesterday as well. The fumes at both locations contain quite a list of things you don’t want to breath, especially those with sensitive lungs, asthma or who are pregnant.

Here is a screen capture of the National Parks Service sulphur dioxide monitors at 2:30 PM:

You can phone the Civil Defense for updates at 961-8093, and if you listen to the message long enough you will get a “for more information” number to call directly to the staff at the viewing area.

Apparently the national park remains open judging by the people looking at the crater off the Jaggar Museum.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

~ Surface flows have stalled ~ Ocean entry subdued ~

Above: Ocean entry at 6:15 this morning

The advancement of surface lava close to the Hawaii County viewing area at the west end of Kalapana Gardens access road off highway 130 has stalled. I spotted one small breakout but otherwise lava there is hot and glows red between the cracks and stagnating.

Below: In this photo we are looking northeast toward the property and home that was most imminently threatened by the recent surface flow. The lava in the foreground was flowing 48 hours ago and is still quite hot. Remarkably, the flowing lava stopped exactly at the westerly property line (cleared area with rough rock and little noni trees), oozed along it, then turned up along the very edge of the southerly property line for a ways and stalled.

Lava that was breaking out west of there, near the main lava tube supplying the ocean entry, has also stalled. I did, however, see two bright lava glow spots high atop, or above, the Pulama Pali. These were each quite separated from each other; one appeared to be a large skylight beam-like glow.

Below: The coastal flats devastation lavascape looking northwest towards the degassing fumes on the Pulama Pali and the Pu`u O`o venting beyond.
All photos taken early this morning; click on them for a larger view size.

Below: The central section of the coastal flats just west of Kalapana Gardens subdivision, showing the ocean entry plume beyond.

The ocean entry lava flow has been pulsing a lot lately; going from robust to subdued day and night. This morning it slowed down so much I thought it was going to cease altogether, only to return somewhat. Yesterday morning (photo above), the hot and fuming new lava delta had many surface flows breaking out all over and also the west end of the bench had lava advancing; today there were no breakouts there at all; just degassing fumes.

USGS/HVO issued new lava flow update maps on September 27th. Their maps below will have all the caption information on the linked site above. The closer map below accurately shows where the recent breakout lava near the county view area is – shown in bright red.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

~ Viewing area surface flow continues but slowed down ~

Ocean entry lava at 5:36 this morning

Last night many people walked out the Hawaii County lava viewing access road and were treated to some small but visible lava breakouts just below the road, as well as a nice ocean entry plume that glowed orange-red as darkness came on.

The surface flows had slowed considerably from the day before. Overnight they nearly stagnated but had progressed about 180 feet further in 24-hours. Lava actively began breaking out again by 7:00 AM this morning: flowing just southeast of the access road, slowly filling in low areas.

Hawaii Island has had remarkably consistent NE Trade Winds all summer, with some periods of more easterly breezes. I mention this because it is these winds that keep both the Halema’uma’u sulphur dioxide plume and the toxic ocean entry steam plume wafting away from human settlements near these eruption sites. When the winds shift around and push in from the south or southwest then Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and residents in Kalapana Gardens are most effected by the nauseous fumes - locally dubbed ‘vog or laze’ -; as well as all communities downwind, including neighbor islands.

Yesterday we had a brief few hours when the light winds did turn more southerly and were recorded on a cool little National Parks Service current sulphur dioxide conditions site. It records the air quality for two main areas in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and shows by the hour the wind direction and the levels of SO2.

Below is the record for mid-day yesterday:

Monday, September 27, 2010

~ Large surface flow: Thrill & Threat ~

Nine hundred feet west-southwest of the very end of the Kalapana Gardens access road, which is the county viewing area, molten lava broke out of the tube that feeds the ocean entry yesterday morning and has moved in two directions. One direction is west of the fuming lava tubes and has run about three hundred feet southeast. The other has progressed nearly a thousand feet east, somewhat paralleling the access road, and was within about six hundred feet of an occupied home in Kalapana Gardens, as shown above, when I left the area.(The further side of the hot-silvery lava, closer to the home, is also breaking out and had just entered their property and was approaching some owner-established plants).

The easterly surface flow is not too wide, maybe one hundred feet on average. The more westerly flow is sprawling in two directions right now.
This lava is not moving fast but was still breaking out and making progress when I left the area around 8:30 this morning.Above: Hawaii County lava viewing site at the end of the Kalapana access road; and yes there is lava to be seen--- any closer and the viewing area will have to be moved further east up the road. The ocean entry plume is in the distance.

Breakouts are scattered on all sides of the expanding flow and I did notice slow inflation of some portions.

When I arrived in early morning it was still dark and I noticed two other significant changes to the entire lava flow: the ocean entry was greatly subdued, and high atop the Pulama Pali, maybe even as high up as the rootless shield, there was a large surface flow of lava there too; I did not take a picture of it.

By the time I left the ocean entry was picking up strength again.

Another significant observation I made from the access road came around 7:30 AM after a short but heavy rain came across the coastal flats; thick steam was rising in a broad line right up against the Hakuma Horst and very near to the homes just a little east of there by a few hundred feet. This area is still hot from the July flow and I have seen steam there in weeks past, but today the steam was much more pronounced so maybe the tubes in that area are re-inflating somewhat. I also spotted some smoke rising up near the forest where back in late July lava had breached the horst and taken out Fox’s Landing beach beyond.

So all this new lava flowing will be a thrill for the hundreds of visitors that gather daily along the Hawaii County viewing road, but certainly this lava is a serious concern and possible threat to the residents in their homes very close by.

Inflation has also added some of the thrust to all this new activity, though the monitors appear to be indicating a leveling of or even deflation beginning right now:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

~ Surface flow lava breakout near viewing area ~

Photo courtesy of local resident and taken around 2:30PM today –Sunday.

This should be a nice show for visitors today and tonight.

I will visit the area tomorrow if I can and give a full update then.

Hawaii County lava viewing area is located off the very end of Highway 130 by Kalapana Gardens. Parking and port-o-potties available on site. Open between 2PM and 10PM with the last car allowed in at 8PM. From the parking area there is a ¾ mile walk down paved road to the barricaded lava view site.

Besides the new lava breakout you will also see the strong ocean entry steam plume to the south, as seen in the photo above. This is where molten lava is pouring into the sea.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

~ Full moon with Jupiter and ocean entry lava at dusk ~

Above: Last rays of sun catch portions of the ocean entry lava plume; as seen from the Hawaii County lava viewing access road.

Out at the lava viewing access road last night skies were mostly clear as evening came on. By dusk the molten lava, which is not directly visible from the access road, was already reflecting up into the growing steam plume:

Dusk skies to the west displayed a brilliant planet Venus shimmering between wispy clouds: Click on any of these pictures for a nice larger size

To the east after sunset the full Harvest Moon rose, followed closely by the planet Jupiter We can see four of Jupiter’s many moons in this shot.(EDIT- see first comment below)

I discussed the uniqueness of the Jupiter-full moon combination in yesterday’s post

I will be out on the access road vendor parking area this afternoon and into the evening today if you would care to come by and say hi; this will be my last day setting up my display of large lava flow canvas prints until sometime next week,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

~ Equinox full moon with Jupiter and a huge cruise ship visits lava ~

Today is the first day of spring in the southern hemisphere while autumn begins in the northern side of the equator… Hawaii is sort of in between at 20 degrees latitude, which gives us summer year around and a view of both the North Star and Southern Cross constellation. A full moon happens to also take place on this equinox, something that won’t be repeated again until 2029.

Also in the mix is the planet Jupiter, which now is in what is termed opposition; when the Earth passes between the sun and Jupiter, placing Jupiter opposite the sun in our sky. Peak opposition was yesterday and Jupiter was as it closest distance to earth since 1963. Jupiter can be seen rising just after sunset and setting around sunrise. And now you can see Jupiter traveling near the full moon all night. Venus will be setting into the west early evening.

Meanwhile…. The erupting volcano on the Island of Hawaii continues…

… and is exciting enough for the massive cruise ship Pride of America to not only come close to shore making a full-stop to allow the passengers to witness lava pouring into the sea under full moonlight, but the ship also spun on its axis 360* to give people on both sides of the vessel a chance to see the show on the shore: Pride of America specs:
Largest cruise ship ever built under American flag (Even though it was finished in Germany in 2004), and christened in New York June 17, 2005.
Length: 920 feet (280 meters) and 105 ft beam (width) (32m), 106 ft high off the water (32m). 26ft draught (8 m), 15 decks, carries up to 2146 passengers and a crew of up to 900. The ship serves the main Hawaiian Islands weekly.

Both photos were taken 9:45 to 10:00PM last night from the Hawaii County lava viewing access road - click on them for a larger view size.

Above - Those cluster of coconut palms are the same ones in this photo I posted here

Monday, September 20, 2010

~ Halema’uma’u an ongoing eruptive wonder ~

Above: A splice of the three Jaggar Museum crater cam images from yesterday afternoon, and below, the same cam view at 10:00 PM last night.(click on them for larger szes)

At 2:58 a.m. H.s.t on Wednesday, March 19, 2008, an explosion occurred on the floor of the Halema`uma`u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park; the first explosion since 1924, the first eruptive activity since 1982. Geologists at the time speculated the blast was a result of either hydrothermal magma thrust or intense pressurized gas sources.

The resulting hole spewed sulphur dioxide heavily - jumping from the usual 150-metric tonnes per day to 1000, which continues today at varying high amounts. The size of the original blast hole was about 160-feet across. The edges of the raw new vent opening have collapsed many times, increasing the diameter to something like 480-feet over the past two and a half years (Going by memory for those diameters).

These rockfall events - the vents edges dropping off - often create violent explosions that are witnessed by viewers and also recorded on the two crater cams aimed at the crater.
Here is one of those events:

Molten lava broils in the bottom of this crater-within-a-crater at around 600-foot below the main crater floor, though this main base level fluctuates regularly, and at times changes level sporadically; rising upwards over a hundred feet before dropping back to near its previous levels. These USGS/HVO crater overlook cam images are from their images page here
Geologists refer to these events as high-stands. High stands temporarily, but drastically, alter the sulphur dioxide rates and can cause the plume to become very thin and wispy. Another result of a high-stand event are changes to the intensity of the broiling lava inside the vent, which can become dimmer and much brighter as the event unfolds.

Just two weeks prior to the Kilauea crater event of March 16th, 2008, molten lava from the 2007 TEB eruption site, just east of Pu`U O`o crater, found its way down the Pulama Pali and had begun entering the ocean at Waikupanaha, which was to become our big coastal lava entry display for the next twenty months, ending January 3rd this year.

This and other information on the history and ongoing activity of Kilauea can be found on the many USGS/HVO informative links.

Lava continues pouring into the ocean near Kalapana Gardens.
There are no surface flows on the coastal flats reported at this time.
Also-- Tonight, if skies are clear, look for the planet Jupiter next to the nearly full moon; Jupiter will be at its closest point to earth than it will be again until 2022.
Both Halema’uma’u and the coastal ocean entry visitor sites (Click on the highlighted text for more information) have good viewing of the ongoing eruption.

I will add updates when I can, or when significant changes to the volcanic eruption take place…. Or, of course, any other exciting stuff is heading towards the islands like super ocean swells, tsunamis or hurricanes…
~ Aloha,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

~ Lanai with a view ~

I took the photo above from the road last night at around 10:00 PM. Moonlight shines on the raw lava that the home sits on. The red-orange glow is lava reflecting up into the steam where it pours off the outer edge of the new, and still growing, delta of land that extends out into the ocean over five hundred-feet beyond the older sea cliffs.

Below: November 18th, 2009; still under construction and the plume is the Waikupanaha ocean entry that flowed for a couple years, ending January 3rd, 2010. Our present ocean entry is up the coast from there, to the east, about one mile or so.
This home has likely been photographed hundreds of times by visitors walking down the Hawaii County lava viewing access road off the end of highway 130. That is because it is close the access road and lines up with the ocean entry so nicely.

Above & below are other photos I have snapped of this home July & August (Click any image for a larger view size) (And yes you can still buy this new house and have this front-row view from your lanai:

The surface flows reported yesterday did stall-out and no new ones have been seen.
Both Halema’uma’u and the coastal ocean entry visitor sites (Click on the highlighted text for more information) have good viewing of the ongoing eruption.

I will add updates when I can, or when significant changes to the volcanic eruption take place…. Or, of course, any other exciting stuff is heading towards the islands like super ocean swells, tsunamis or hurricanes…
~ Aloha,

Friday, September 17, 2010

~ Inflation leads to surface lava ~

By the second day of continuous increase of magma pressures the coastal lava tube system became pressurized to the point of rupture; spilling molten lava onto the surface.
This breakout was 1st noted around noon yesterday, the 16th, by field researcher Ron Boyle, who offered the images here.

The breakout was a small section of a few hundred feet along the coastal flats active lava tubes situated about one-quarter mile west from the present terminus of highway 130’s Kalapana Gardens access road. After dark some of this breakout was visible to visitors but barely.

Deformation or D/I monitors are right now showing what appears to be a peaking out and reversal of the inflation back to deflation.

I was not able to go out there this morning to see firsthand whether this surface flow continued or not; I think it may have stalled overnight; I’ll check the area out today/tonight.

Meanwhile lava continued pumping into the ocean producing a large steam plume by day and orange-red plume by night.