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Puna Resident Sets Up New Lava Webcam

July 28, 2018, 2:44 PM HST
* Updated July 28, 5:47 PM
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Many people, locals and tourists alike, have been getting arrested for attempting to see the lava flow. Hawai‘i County has considered opening a public lava viewing area, but has yet to do so.

Puna resident Harry Durgin crowd-sourced funds to set up an online webcam so anyone can view lava at any time of the day.

A photo captured from Harry Durgin’s lava webcam. PC: Harry Durgin

When asked what inspired Durgin to set up the webcam, he said he wanted to “reduce anxiety in some people by allowing them to view the lava from another source in addition to the PGV cam. My long-term goal is to graph relative activity or maybe even flow rate, but that’s a stretch.”

Durgin stated that he was using a iPhone 5s for his camera because they use very little power are very inexpensive while providing an excellent image.

The crowdsourcing for the funding was conducted through GoFundMe after Durgin posted his intentions on Facebook.

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“They [Facebook users] raised over $1,200 in less than 24 hours,” Durgin said. “It went to an SO2 monitor, monthly fees for recalibrating the monitor, monthly Verizon fees and starting equipment. I will be adding more locations and cameras as well as solar system(s). I have gotten a platform for the location near Lava Tree. The locations we use will also provide space for a UH project involving seismographs and weather data collection. It’s becoming a community science project.”

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When asked if more cameras would be set up, Durgin said, “Yes, two more at the Lava Tree location and more at different locations. I am doing site surveys in Leilani Saturday, July 28, 2018. Friday, July 27, I did two—one in the day and one at night. I want to catch a closeup of Fissure 8 and also want to catch the river—at least the portion above Kapoho Crater.

Harry Durgin’s webcam image on July 28, 2018, at 2:30 p.m.

While the cameras update an image every minute, Durgin still has to replace the batteries every 40 hours.

“I’ve got solar on the way and will be changing the entire power system over in the next couple of weeks,” Durgin said. “My long-term goal would be a way to gauge activity level or even flow rates from Fissure 8. This is a big challenge in many ways and may not be achievable, but I’m going to give it a try. I would like to have a few cameras well positioned so changes could be observed and reported.”

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While the camera and website are in a beta version right now, images are available here.

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