East Hawaii News

June 27 Lava Flow Afternoon Update – 11/3/14

November 3, 2014, 1:33 PM HST
* Updated November 3, 1:34 PM
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With very little change at the front of the June 27 lava flow, activity continues behind the front, and about 2 miles upslope, new breakouts are moving.

An 11:30 a.m. media briefing with Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Olivera and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Geophysicist Michael Poland discussed the current happenings with the unpredictable flow.

According to Olivera, “there has been very little change at all, the flow front still remains 480 feet from the Pahoa Village Roadway. There is very little activity at the flow front. However, just back from the front moving upslope, we’ve had surface breakouts through the night, as well as a few breakouts along the margins or sides of the flow.”

One of the major things authorities are keeping their eye on is a breakout that is approximately 200 yards upslope from the current flow front. The breakout appears to be moving in a north northeast direction, parallel to Apa’a Street.

“Based on our estimates and GPS coordinates we looked at that [breakout] having moved roughly 200 yards since Friday,” Olivera said.

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Structures that were once about to be demolished by the quick advancing flow have been spared for the time being. This includes the home that was once being approached by the leading flow front but was just missed, the flow instead taking a gardening tool shed. Last week, a breakout again threatened the home, but now remains 100 yards away and has been stalled since late last week.

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Inflation activity at the summit that is characterized by an increase of lava is part of an ongoing cycle that happens consistently at the Kilauea summit, according to Poland. The cycles usually begin with deflation, a loss of pressure in the magma system beneath the summit, then eventually turn around and turn into inflation, a re-pressurization of the summit.

“Often associated with deflation is a decrease in the amount of lava being erupted at the eruption site, Pu’u’ O’o, and we see inflation being associated with an increase in lava, or back to where it was,” Poland said. “The most current event of the inflation phase started on Friday afternoon and the summit has gone back to its pre-event levels, so it looks like it did back at the beginning of last week.”

HVO measured the amount of lava going through the lava tube on Friday and noted that it was very low, perhaps the lowest it has been measured during the June 27 activity. Poland expects that this number is now higher but says HVO scientists have yet to measure it.

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The possible implications of the inflation/deflation process is that lava being delivered to the flow is fluctuating. According to Poland, this is not to say that the flow front itself will begin to move again. “It may just be that this particular finger of the lava that reached the main flow body perhaps it has cooled enough that not much lava is reaching there and instead more of it is going to these other breakouts higher up. It’s very difficult to say.”

“There obviously still is lava getting to the flow front because we see these small breakouts and some inflation of the flow but it’s clearly nothing like it was last week,” Poland stated.

Olivera made note that authorities are paying close attention to activity upslope and that, at this point, it is a waiting game. “Right now it’s just a matter of monitoring and keeping awareness of what the flow is doing.”

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