Lava Tree Molds Form in Leilani Estates

September 2, 2018, 2:15 PM HST (Updated September 3, 2018, 7:54 AM)


    On the backside of Fissure 8 in the Leilani Estates Subdivision, several new lava tree molds have formed.

    Lava tree molds form when rapidly moving, extremely fluid lava come in contact with moist trees. The remaining lava drains away, leaving upright structures.

    For weeks, Fissure 8 could be seen fountaining hundreds of feet high and lava swept through a densely populated neighborhood filled with trees.

    Tree molds are visible at Lava Tree State Monument in Pāhoa, where a forest of lava trees formed when lava from flows in 1790 swept through the forested area,


    The other location where lave trees can be seen is off Mauna Loa Road within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

    But at this time, both locations are closed to the public due to the eruptions at Kīlauea.

    There no date set for reopening Lava Tree State Monument park, but HVNP is planning to reopen portions of the national park on Sept. 22, 2018.


    Lava began erupting in Leilani Estates on May 4, 2018. Over several days, 24 fissures erupted in the Lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano.

    To date, 8,493 acres or 13 square miles have been covered, and 716 homes destroyed by lava from the 2018 Kilauea Lower East Rift Zone Eruption.

    Hawai‘i Volcanoes Observatory reported that as of Aug. 29, 2018, there was no incandescence visible in Fissure 8, nor was there lava entering the ocean during the overflight.

    On Saturday, Sept. 1, Fissure 8 once again exhibited signs of activity.

    A lava tree mold which somewhat resembles Stonehenge on the backside of Fissure 8 in Leilani Estates on Aug. 27, 2018. PC: Scott Cate

    Large lava tree mold in Leilani Estates Subdivision on Aug. 27, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

    Looking through a lava tree mold in Leilani Estates Subdivision on Aug. 27, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

    Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Lava tree mold with pieces of partly charred wood, which are remnants of the top of tree, on the 1823 lava flow of Kīlauea Volcano. PC: H.T. Stearns, July 11, 1924. USGS.

    Lava tree molds in the foreground of Fissure 8 on Aug. 27, 2018, in Leilani Estates Subdivision. PC: Crystal Richard

    Lava tree mold and the tree remains in Leilani Estates in the Lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano on Hawai‘i Island, Aug. 27, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

    Pele’s Hair covers much of the landscape around Fissure 8 in Leilani Estates Subdivision on Aug. 27, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

    Crystal Richard
    Crystal Richard moved to East Hawai’i in 2005 to attend UH Hilo. While earning her bachelor’s degree in English and a certificate to teach English as a second language, Crystal served as the editor-in-chief of “Hohonu,” UH Hilo’s academic journal, and as assistant editor-in-chief at “KeKalahea,” UH Hilo’s student newspaper. From a young age, Crystal fell in love with the written word and has always dreamed of a career in journalism. She has worked as a Big Island Now freelance reporter since September 2016. She is a wellness and health advocate who enjoys swimming, gardening, reading and spending time with her animals and loved ones.


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