Hawaii Volcano Blog

Puna Update, May 9, 6 PM: PVG Moving Pentane to Kea‘au

Listen to this Article
5 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

This news story will be updated throughout the day as new information becomes available and new articles will be added to the website’s “News” section. Previous information about ongoing events can be found in Big Island Now’s “Volcano Blog” section.

A new fissure—No. 15—has erupted in the Lanipuna Gardens Subdivision near the entrance. MC: Hawai‘i County

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at 6 p.m.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) confirms fissure 15 in Lanipuna Subdivision has paused.

Hazardous fumes continue to be released.

As of 6 p.m., 116.57 acres have been covered by lava.

Structures destroyed total 36.


Evacuation Update

HPD evacuated 10 homes at 3 p.m. on Alaili Road, west of Highway 130 between Malama Street and Kamaili Road due to steaming cracks in the road.

Service/Utilities/Agency Update

Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) is expediting the removal of hazardous materials offsite to Shipman Industrial Park in Kea‘au.

Community Message/Alerts


·Pāhoa High, Intermediate and Elementary schools and Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu’u will be open tomorrow. Hawai‘i Academy of Arts and Sciences is closed for the rest of the week.


A community informational meeting will be held at the Volcano Community Center at 7 p.m. tonight, May 9. HVO experts will present the scientific background of the current eruption.

Wednesday, May 9, 2:31 p.m.: New fissure and service updates


Big Island Now Metereorologist Malka Dudley received an unofficial report of a new fissure_number 15, that erupted east of Pohoki Road and Leilani Boulevard. If this is confirmed, it will be the 15 fissure to erupt in the Puna District during this more current episode of volcanic activity.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory just confirmed that a new fissure has erupted in the Lanipuna Gardens Subdivision near the entrance. Officials are on site assessing the situation. Hazardous fumes continue to be released.

There are no threats to Nanawale Estates at this time.

HVO has also confirmed a large ash plume/explosion at Halemaʻumaʻu. The plume is being carried by wind towards the Pahala direction. Light ash dusting could occur in populated areas west of Halemaʻumaʻu.

The Departement of Water Supply has issued an emergency water restriction for the Pohoiki, Vacationland and Kapoho area due to the impacts to the bypass waterline caused by the latest fissure event.

Water spigots installed near the entrance of Lava Tree State Park and a water tanker in Vacationland are still available for the public to access.

DOH is working on updating SO2 data reporting online.

Spectrum has installed free Wi-Fi access at the Kea‘au Community Center, Pāhoa Community Center, Pāhoa Senior Center, Recovery Information and Assistance Center at Sacred Hearts Church, and the Food/Supply Center at the corner of Highway 130 and 132.

The Hawaii National Guard will be in the area conducting presence patrols to provide assistance and security in the area.

The Kalapana Transfer Station is closed until further notice due to the inability of the county’s commercial vehicles to safely access the site. The public can continue to use the Pāhoa Transfer Station, located in Pāhoa Village and open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 2:25 p.m.

An informational meeting to discuss the potential hazards for residents of Kīlauea Summit and surrounding area regarding the dropping of the lava lake will be held at the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Visitor Center at 7 p.m. tonight, May 9, 2018.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 8:29 a.m.: Explosion not caused by the interaction of the lava lake with the water table. PC: USGS

This image of Halema‘uma‘u lava lake from May 7 shows the agitated lake surface caused by intermittent rock falls. Falling rocks are common since the lava lake level has dropped quickly, and exposed the walls. On May 6, the lake level was about 240 yards below the crater rim and it continues to drop. PC: USGS

Wednesday, May 9, 8:29 a.m.: Explosion not caused by the interaction of the lava lake with the water table

An ash column rose from the Overlook Crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. HVO’s interpretation is that the explosion was triggered by a rockfall from the steep walls of Overlook Crater. The photograph was taken at 8:29 a.m. on May 9, 2018, from the Jaggar Museum overlook. The explosion was short-lived. Geologists examining the ash deposits on the rim of Halema‘uma‘u crater found fresh lava fragments hurled from the lava lake. This explosion was not caused by the interaction of the lava lake with the water table. When the ash cleared from the crater about an hour after the explosion, geologists were able to observe the lava lake surface, which is still above the water table. PC: USGS

Wednesday, May 9, 8:02 a.m.: HVO/USGS Volcanic Activity Notice 

The steady lowering of the lava lake in Overlook Crater within Halemaʻumaʻu at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano has raised the potential for explosive eruptions in the coming weeks. If the lava column drops to the level of groundwater beneath Kīlauea Caldera, influx of water into the conduit could cause steam-driven explosions. Debris expelled during such explosions could impact the area surrounding Halemaʻumaʻu and the Kīlauea summit.

At this time, US Geological Survey geologists cannot say with certainty that explosive activity will occur, how large the explosions could be, or how long such explosive activity could continue.

Residents of the Kīlauea summit area should learn about the hazards of ashfall, stay informed of the status of the volcano and area closures, and review family and business emergency plans.

For more on volcanic ash hazards, go online.

Primary hazards of concern should this activity occur are ballistic projectiles and ashfall.

During steam-driven explosions, ballistic blocks up to 2 m (yards) across could be thrown in all directions to a distance of 1 km (0.6 miles) or more. These blocks could weigh a few kilograms (pounds) to several tons.

Smaller (pebble-size) rocks could be sent several kilometers (miles) from Halemaʻumaʻu, mostly in a downwind direction.

Presently, during the drawdown of the lava column, rockfalls from the steep enclosing walls of the Overlook crater vent impact the lake and produce small ash clouds. These clouds are very dilute and result in dustings of ash (particles smaller than 2 mm) downwind.

Should steam-driven explosions begin, ash clouds will rise to greater elevations above ground. Minor ashfall could occur over much wider areas, even up to several tens of miles from Halemaʻumaʻu. In 1924, ash may have reached as high as 20,000 feet above sea level. Small amounts of fine ash from these explosions fell over a wide area as far north as North Hilo (Hakalau), in lower Puna, and as far south as Waiohinu.

Gas emitted during steam-drive explosions will be mainly steam, but will include some sulfur dioxide (SO2) as well. Currently, SO2 emissions remain elevated.


Steam-driven explosions at volcanoes typically provide very little warning. Once the lava level reaches the groundwater elevation, onset of continuous ashy plumes or a sequence of violent steam-driven explosions may be the first sign that activity of concern has commenced.


Kīlauea’s lava lake began to drop on May 2, 2018. From its peak on May 2 to the most recent measurement at 9 pm on May 6, the lava lake surface dropped a total of more than 200 m (656 ft). The subsidence was at a relatively constant rate of about 2 meters (yards) per hour.

Measurements of subsidence have not been possible since May 6 because of thick fume and the increasing depth to the lava surface. However, thermal images indicate continued lowering of the lake surface since that time, consistent with deflationary tilt recorded at Kīlauea’s summit. Therefore, we infer that the lake surface continues to drop at roughly the same rate. So, while HVO cannot report exact depths of the receding lava lake, we can monitor the overall trend.

USGS and HVO scientists are monitoring changes at the summit 24/7 and watching for signs that hazardous conditions have increased, or may increase. HVO is working closely with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Hawai‘i County Civil Defense to respond to this situation.


Updates on activity will be posted on the HVO website at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/status.html

You can receive these updates by email through a free subscription service: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vns2/

Hawai‘i County Civil Defense will issue its own hazard notices should that become necessary: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park status is posted on their web page:

Resources on volcanic ash can be found at:

Contacts: [email protected]

Daily updates on all volcanic activity at Kīlauea are issued each morning and posted here: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/status.html

Sign up to receive these messages automatically by visiting

Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 6 a.m.: East Rift Zone Eruption in Leilani Subdivision

Paradise Helicopters Video, Mick Kalber, May 8, 2018

The thirteenth Leilani Eruption occurred on the afternoon of May 8 near the intersection of Leilani Avenue and Kahukai Road. Noxious gas release, huge cracks in the road and violent lava spattering occurred as has been typical of the past several days. The eruption began just eight days ago, with the sudden collapse of the Pu‘U ‘Ō‘Ō Vent—the main vent of the current eruption for the past 35 years.

Since then, hundreds of earthquakes have rocked the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Underground lava inundation transported the molten rock down the East Rift Zone in the Puna area of the island. Puna is very large, almost the size of Kaua‘i.

Several days of seismic activity later, lava first surfaced in the lower part of the Leilani Estates subdivision on Thursday, May 3. Since then, 14 separate fissure eruptions have literally ripped the community apart, tearing huge cracks in roads, burning forests and destroying nearly 40 homes so far. Although the eruption slowed a bit over the past couple days, the May 8 activity proved Pele is far from finished pouring new lava into the eastern end of the Big Island.

Eruption Update

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirms two new vents as of yesterday at about 2 p.m. Vent number 13 has opened near the intersection of Leilani Avenue and Kahukai Road and Vent number 14 near Kaupili Street and Leilani Avenue in the Lanipuna Gardens subdivision, which sits to the east of Leilani Estates, the neighborhood which has been hardest hit by Kīlauea.

Both have paused but continue to release hazardous gases. Since the onset of this eruption, a total of 14 fissures have emerged. The lava has covered 104 acres and 36 structures have been destroyed.

The maps shows the locations of fissures and an ‘a‘ā flow erupted since May 3 in the order that they occurred in Leilani Estates as of 7 p.m. on May 8. The purple areas are lava flows erupted in 1840, 1955, 1960 and 2014-2015. MC: USGS

Evacuation Update

Conditions permitting, Leilani Estates residents will be allowed to check on their property from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day until further notice. Follow the instructions of the authorities on scene. Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

Civil Defense has established the Recovery Information and Assistance Center (RIAC) at the Sacred Hearts Church in Pāhoa, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Entry placard registration for residents wishing to retrieve personal items will be issued at RIAC throughout the week.

The county is taking care of all animals whose evacuated owners reported them left behind.

The County of Hawai‘i and Civil Defense are not associated with the website www.punalavaflow2018.com.

Road Status Update

Highway 130 is closed between Malama Street and Kamaili Road.

Pohoiki Road is closed from Highway 132 to Hinalo Street.

No access is allowed at this time for residents of Lanipuna Gardens due to dangerous volcanic gases.

May 8, 2018, 2:47 p.m.: A new fissure (13) erupted across Leilani Street. View is toward the southwest on Leilani Street near the intersection with Pohoiki Road. Fissure 13 is located between fissures 1 and 6. PC: USGS

Service/Utilities/Agency Update

Hawai‘i Electric Light reminds residents to treat all downed lines as live. Under no circumstances are you to approach or touch downed lines.

Water spigots installed near the entrance of Lava Tree State Park and a water tanker in Vacationland are still available for the public to access.

Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in effect. All aviation request are administered by the Fire Department.

United States Postal Service announced that evacuated residents can pick up their mail at the Pahoa Post Office.

The Hawai‘i County Police Department and the Prosecutor’s Office have established a policy of zero tolerance towards looting or vandalism. Under Emergency Provisions, any looting or vandalism will be treated as a felony.

DOH is working on updating SO2 data reporting online.

Puna Geothermal Venture reports no activity at this time and the facility is secured. Precautionary measures are being taken to remove flammable materials offsite.

Contact the humane society for animal information.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments