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Volcano Flyover Reveals New Lava Skylights

September 26, 2016, 12:14 PM HST
* Updated September 26, 1:26 PM
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Sept. 22, 2016, New Lava Skylight video courtesy of Paradise Helicopters and Tropical Vision Video

The Paradise Helicopters crew with photographer/videographer Mick Kalber aboard conducted another volcano flyover on Sept. 22, which revealed new skylights.

“Volcano Goddess Pele continues to battle her sister, Na Maka, the Goddess of the Sea, flowing most strongly to the east, but steadily to the west as well,” Kalber reported.

All ocean entries are within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at numerous points in the Pacific Ocean.

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Pele’s fluid pahoehoe flows now cover the better part of a mile of the recently completed access road, which now gives visitors a lengthy, but reasonably easy path directly to the ocean entry.

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Pele rolled over Pulama Pali nearly two months ago, mostly between Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision. This new flow, dubbed 61G, is now about 6 miles long.

Visitors continue to make their way on foot and by boat to take in the spectacle. Although the safe viewing area has been laid out well back from the active ocean entry, many photographers and curiosity seekers still enter the restricted areas.

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory cautions visitors viewing the 61G flow ocean entry. There are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water.

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Also, the new land created is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf, causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea.

In several instances, such collapses, once started, have also incorporated parts of the older sea cliff. Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates an acidic plume laden with fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes and lungs.

Paradise Helicopters/Tropical VIsions Video, Sept. 22, 2016.

Paradise Helicopters/Tropical VIsions Video, Sept. 22, 2016.

Kalber reported that plenty of black sand beaches now line the coast near the ocean entry, and large cracks have appeared on the eastern lava delta… a precursor to a collapse that could occur at any time.

The stunning weather allowed us to visit the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent today as well, where the crew found a beautiful lava lake within to the west.

“David O. Baldwin captured a smiley face in the lake, but my image looks more like a Picasso version of Kermit the Frog,” said Kalber.

HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY UPDATE

Monday, September 26, 2016, 7:02 a.m.

Activity Summary: Kīlauea Volcano continues to erupt at its summit and at the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent on its East Rift Zone. Summit tiltmeters recorded an inflationary tilt over the past day, and the lava lake level rose an estimated 52 feet since yesterday morning.

The 61G lava flow continues to flow into the sea at Kamokuna. For the past week, breakouts have occurred about 1.2 miles inland from the coast. The flow poses no threat to nearby communities.

Summit Observations: Summit tiltmeters recorded a reverse in tilt starting yesterday morning, and have been showing an inflationary tilt over the past day. The lava lake surface has been rising with the change in tilt, and is about 65 feet below the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater this morning. Fountaining along the edge of the lake surface is visible from Jaggar Overlook at this time.

Summit seismicity is at typical levels this morning, while volcanic tremor amplitudes continued to fluctuate in association with lava lake spattering. Average daily summit sulfur dioxide emission rates ranged from 2,400 to 7,100 metric tons/day over the past week. GPS and InSAR data have recorded a long-term inflationary trend of the summit magma reservoir complex since 2010.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: No significant changes are visible on webcam images, with persistent glow continuing at long-term sources within the crater. A tiltmeter on the north flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō continued recording a deflationary trend in the past day. The sulfur dioxide emission rate from all East Rift Zone vents was about 360 metric tons/day when last measured on Sept. 20.

Lava Flow Observations: The 61g lava flow, extending southeast from Puʻu ʻŌʻō on Kīlauea’s south flank, continues to supply lava to the ocean at Kamokuna. Active breakouts have occurred over the past week on the coastal plain about 1.2 miles inland from ocean entry.

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