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Chain of Craters Road Emergency Route Being Worked On

May 19, 2018, 1:42 PM HST
* Updated May 19, 7:55 PM
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In a conference call with Hawai‘i Volcanoes Observatory officials on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 11 a.m., park Public Information Officer Jessica Ferracane told reporters that the Chain of Craters Road in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is being worked on so that it can be used as an emergency route if Highway 132 and Highway 130 becomes blocked by lava flows.

In 2014 Bulldozer approaches park boundary from Kalapana.  A bulldozer approaches the park boundary from the Kalapana side. NPS Photo/David Boyle

Beginning yesterday, Friday, May 18, 2018, and continuing overnight, the rate of lava eruption has increased. Fountaining is occurring at Fissure 17, and Fissures 16-20 have merged into a continuous line of spatter and fountaining. Flows from the consolidated Fissure 20 crossed upper Pohoiki road late yesterday afternoon and continued flowing southward.

This morning, the wide flow is very active and is advancing at rates up to 300 yds per hour. A second flow from the same fissure complex is also flowing southward between Pohoiki and Opihikao Rds. The lava flow from Fissure 18 continues to advance more slowly. Fissure 17 and its flow are still active but the flow is advancing even more slowly. It is unknown whether the flows will continue to advance, or stop, and new lava flows are likely given the rate of activity seen at the rift zone.

Helicopter overflight of the southeast coast of the Puna district during the early morning hours of May 19, 2018. Flows are moving downslope toward the ocean. Photograph courtesy of the Hawai‘i County Fire Department.

Magma continues to be supplied to the lower East Rift Zone; however, the GPS instrument near Pu‘u Honua‘ula is no longer moving suggesting that the rift zone is no longer inflating in this area. Elevated earthquake activity continues, but earthquake locations have not moved farther downrift in the past couple of days.

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