Monday, December 5, 2011

East side Royal Gardens leveled by rivers of lava – Jack Thompson airlifted out

As I arrived yesterday afternoon to this last large remnant of the once expansive Royal Gardens subdivision, rivers of lava had already severed access to the kipuka itself, and to Jack Thompson’s home.

I was mostly shooting video, but below is the only still shot I grabbed of the chopper coming into to take Jack off his property and out of the lava zone at 5:30 PM yesterday - in the sky, upper left. (lava rivers are partially obscured from this angle). His house is beyond view, back in beyond the smoky forest. (According to helicopter pilots this afternoon, Jack’s home was still intact; and from my vantage point on the ground the lava was still roughly just a couple of hundreds yards east of his place.)
[Click on any image for a larger view size of all these photos]. The lava in this photo had already come through hours before my arrival, but as the images show, that was just the first wave – Once the molten lava found the very steep pali just to the left, more rivers of pahoehoe and large A`a mounds advanced aggressively into the night and today.

Large advancing mounds and thrust-fronts of moving A`a take all in its path:

At dusk last night the scene along the forest was one of fast lava rivers and devastation to the forest, lava rivers and the burning forest raged throughout the night:

This shows just how steep the pali’s (cliffs) are where all this lava was pouring off of - both the slower A`a (foreground) and super-fast pahoehoe - these rivers are much larger than appear here.:

Below: With open ocean in the distance, we look down on massive fields of A`a continuing to grow onto the coastal flats far below, as seen from the top of the pali. There are actually some people in the photo's mid-upper left side for perspective.Well it took nine months to the day for Pele to deliver surface lava back to the coastal plains, but she did so in her fiery style!!

See my previous post for more background information as to location.

I am now working on movie footage and will post a few clips on here in the next day or two.


  1. WOW! Thanks for sharing those amazing photos. I can't believe that home is still there. I saw ocean flows from the Park coast in 1991 that still give me goose bumps when I think of it. That was just before the heiau there was destroyed.

  2. Pretty dramatic pictures. You seem to get up pretty close to the lava. Any risk of it changing directions, putting you into harms way?

  3. Very cool pictures, hopefully Jack's house made it!

  4. Amazing, beautiful and terrifying all at once.

  5. Leigh, once again your work just blows me away... thank you for everything you do.

  6. Great photos.... question.. Why is video content blocked??? by Youtube???

  7. @ bricksailboat:

    I am unaware of any blocks on my YouTube videos-- they all work for me-- let me know what is not working if the problem is not found~
    You could try accessing them on my YouTube channel here: