Volcano Overflight: New Lava Outbreak

January 30, 2017, 1:35 PM HST (Updated January 30, 2017, 1:38 PM)

ideo courtesy of Tropical Visions Video photographer/videographer Mick Kalber.

A new outbreak on the spillway just to the east of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent occurred early last  week and continued Thursday morning, Jan. 26, Paradise Helicopters crew members reported.

“It is flowing on top of the 61g tube system and a bit to the south,” said Tropical Visions Video photographer/videographer Mick Kalber.

Activity there is moderate and the new flow has advanced about a half-mile, Kalber said. But the eastern branch to the north of the 61g flow, which has been active for about two months is now almost dead. It’s distal tip is about 1.5 miles from the vent.

“Pele still breaks out there, but very infrequently,” said Kalber. “Once again, we captured images of a very active lava lake within the vent. This is the clearing house for the main 61g flow, where lava first surfaces before continuing on its path downslope, dumping tons of lava into the Pacific Ocean at Kamokuna just inside Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Pele’s liquid rock flows through the tube system from the vent some six miles to the sea.”

“The flow front is limited to a massive ocean entry on the eastern side of the now small lava delta,” the crew reported. “The recent collapse has send a long-lived firehose lava stream in the Pacific Ocean. Tons of lava enter the water here every day… littoral explosions taking place repeatedly as Pele’s lava is blown to bits by the cold sea water.


New black sand beaches along the coast near the ocean entry continue to form.

Bird’s eye view of the apex of a large breakout on the newest lobe on the eastern flank of Pu‘u ‘O‘o. ExtremeExposure photo.

To reach the new lava viewing area within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park from the east (Kalapana-side), visitors must hike about 4.2 miles one way along the gravel emergency access road. This entrance is open daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. From the park, or west side, visitors can hike out from the Coastal Ranger Station at the end of Chain of Craters Road, about five miles one-way. About one mile of the hike goes inland of the gas plume over hardened, uneven lava flows. The park entrance is open 24 hours a day.

Hikers need to be prepared for a long trek. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes or boots, gloves to protect the hands, and long pants to protect against lava rock abrasions. Carry plenty of water (three to four quart/liters per person). Wear sunblock, sunglasses and a hat. Visitors who plan to stay after dark need a flashlight and/or headlight with extra batteries.

Download hiking tips here.



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