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Kilauea

19 September 2003

Breakouts continue on the flow field

View of Pu`u `O`o crater, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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View southwest across the crater of Pu`u `O`o cone. Incandescence was visible in the East Pond Vent and January vent during an overflight this afternoon. Lava was "spitting up" in the East Pond Vent, but no lava spilled over its rim. In the past week, several small flows from the January vent built a small shield.

Breakout in the uppermost part of the Mother's Day flow field southwest of Pu`u `O`o, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Aerial view of active lava flows on Pulama pali, Hawai'i
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Left. Recent lava breakout in the uppermost part of the Mother's Day flow about 2 km southwest of Pu`u `O`o cone. The flow moved to the edge of an unburned forest at about the 2400-foot elevation. Right. Aerial view of active flows on Pulama pali. In the past week, the August 9 breakout has advanced down the pali as a number of distinct fingers that widen the Mother's Day flow field eastward more than 200 m. The terminus of the lowermost finger is at the 800-foot elevation and has an `a`a crust that extends just beyond the bottom edge of the photograph.

13 September 2003

Lava on coastal flat

Breakout in Kohola arm and distant view of August 9 breakout on Pulama pali, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Looking down onto lava toe in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Left. Lava in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow on coastal flat near end of park trail. In background, Pulama pali is capped by lava in August 9 breakout, which only became visible from coast 3-4 days ago. This breakout has moved 4.9 km from point where lava reached the surface near the head of the Mother's Day tube during surge on August 9. Below August 9 breakout are several small incandescent spots belonging to east-side lobe of main Mother's Day flow. 0549. Right. Nearly vertical view of top of small lava toe near visitor trail. Note stretched bubble walls. Toe is about 25 cm in long dimension. 0559.
Active breakout emerging from inflating Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Active breakout emerging from inflating Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Left. Lava emerging from front of inflating flow. Crust forming on lava grows quickly. Lava stream is about 1.5 m long. 0604:56. Right. Same breakout (higher magnification) 48 seconds later, showing how crust has almost completely closed off lava, forming a small tube. 0605:44.
Coarsely wrinkled skin on small toe in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Gushing breakout in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Left. Folded and wrinkled crust on active lava toe. Note that some folds and wrinkles are folded twice and even three times. Width of view, 1.5 m. 0605. Right. Lava gushing down steep slope. At base of slope, the lava spreads laterally and starts to fold. Stretched bubbles and filaments of crust show this lateral stretching. Gush is about 1 m wide. 0611.
Thin breakout in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Inflating thin toe in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Left. Thin lobes of breakout glide across flat top of earlier flow. Nearest lobe is about 10 cm thick. 0618. Right. Thin sheet of lava is inflating as it slowly advances. Note rock chips picked up from surface and stuck in crust of breakout. Breakout is about 15 cm thick. 0621.
Inflating thin toe in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Inflating thin toe in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Two views of inflating toe taken 16 seconds apart. Width of views, about 50 cm. Left. Note two rock chips at top of incandescent lava just left of incandescent crack in crust on toe. These chips have just been plucked from ropy surface of underlying flow. Other chips on toe were picked up a little earlier. 0621:53. Right. Same view as left image but cropped differently to show more of inflating toe. Note that the two rock chips are now 2-4 cm higher than in left image, uplifted as toe inflated. Note also that toe is advancing, and lava is falling into crack. 0622:09.

12 September 2003

Lava cascades and gas-piston drainback

Lava in August 9 breakout falling into skylight in older lava tube above Pulama pali, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Lava in August 9 breakout falling into skylight in older lava tube above Pulama pali, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Left. Lava in easternmost tongue of August 9 breakout falling into skylight in Episode 53 tube just above Pulama pali. Width of skylight is 2 m.1138. Right. Lava falling into skylight of older tube. 1141.
Lava in August 9 breakout falling into skylight in older lava tube above Pulama pali, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Aerial view of Pu`u `O`o's crater, showing recent lava flows, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Left. Lava falls forming drapery of solid crust that stands as pillars in older skylight. Note that tube continues behind the pillars, which are unsupported on all sides. Height of pillars about 3 m. 1222. Right. Looking west-southwest across crater of Pu`u `O`o. East Pond Vent is nearest fuming area. Fresh dark lava flows issued from East Pond Vent and January vent (just west of East Pond Vent) over past month. Next images were taken from rim of crater looking southwest at East Pond Vent.
Lava pool adjacent to East Pond Vent, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Spattering and drainback in lava pool adjacent to East Pond Vent, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Start of sequence of 6 images taken over 35 seconds, showing stages of gas-piston drainback. Left. Lava welled out from East Pond Vent to form shallow pool. A gas piston is interpreted to have lifted the lava to the surface, where it spilled onto crater floor. Top of piston is just reaching surface and starting to spatter. January vent is behind East Pond Vent. 1302:20. Right. Spattering is well underway, and lava is just starting to drain back into the vent, as shown by break in crust just behind highest part of old cone at East Pond Vent 1302:30.
Spattering and drainback in lava pool adjacent to East Pond Vent, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Spattering and drainback in lava pool adjacent to East Pond Vent, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Left. Still more vigorous spattering, up to about 10 m high. A subsidiary source of spatter starts as crust on lava pond breaks when lava flows back toward vent. Note flexible plate of crust several meters across pushed upward and tilted by spatter. 1302:35. Right. Lava is now clearly draining back into vent, as volume of gas once occupying vent has escaped during spattering. 1302:41.
Drainback in lava pool adjacent to East Pond Vent, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Drainback in lava pool adjacent to East Pond Vent, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Left. Telephoto, showing cavity into which lava is draining. 1302:46. Right. Drainback continues but is slowing. 1302:55.

2 September 2003

Weak cascades on Paliuli

Cascades down Paliuli in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Cascades down Paliuli in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Left. Small cascades of lava flow down Paliuli from gentle slope above, with Holei Pali in background. Edge of active flow burns vegetation near right side of image. Height of Paliuli, about 10 m. 0552. Right. Another view of cascades and flow below. Note that two other cascades have started in past 5 minutes. 0557.
Cascades down Paliuli in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Cascades down Paliuli in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Left. Number of cascades has dropped to two. Flow fed by cascades remains quite active. 0608. Right. Another view of scene to left. Note developing branch from high on cascade. 0610.
Lava flow below Paliuli in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
Lava flow below Paliuli in Kohola arm of Mother's Day flow, Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i
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Left. Cascades have nearly ended, but flow continues to be active as lava is supplied via developing tubes. Note fire near top of image. Pali is about 10 m high. 0614. Right. Looking more westerly than in left image, showing lava continuing to trickle down pali. 0617.
Maps of lava-flow field, Kilauea Volcano

Map of flows from Pu`u `O`o: 12 September 2003

Map of lava flows on south coastal part of Kilauea Volcano as of 12 September 2003

Map shows lava flows erupted during 1983-present activity of Pu`u `O`o and Kupaianaha (see large map). Red colors, both dark and light, denote Mother's Day flow, which began erupting on May 12, 2002 and continues to the present. The darkest color represents flows active since January 21, 2003.

Most recent--and ongoing--activity has produced two flows, one along western edge of flow field and one slightly farther east. Kohola flow, along western margin, entered sea late on Valentine's Day to form short-lived Kohola ocean entry. This flow shortened the road still more. Visitors now can drive to Holei Sea Arch, 1.1 km from Kohola flow, and walk to see flow. Breakouts have been visible in various parts of Kohola flow, shifting from time to time across width and length of flow.

Other dark red flow is main active part of Mother's Day flow. Fed by breakouts from lava tube in main Mother's Day flow, it advanced along eastern margin of main flow and down Pulama pali and Paliuli. Western of two forks below Paliuli dripped over sea cliff at Highcastle on May 19, 2003.

Lava from earlier, pre-January 21, 2003 Mother's Day flow (light red) reached sea at West Highcastle early on July 19, at Wilipe`a early on July 21, and at Highcastle on August 8. From near southwest base of Pu`u `O`o, Mother's Day flow passes along west side of flow field and into forest, where it started large wildfire in May that continued into late July. By June 10, Mother's Day flow had reached base of Paliuli, the steep slope and cliff below Pulama pali and just above coastal flat. At base of Paliuli, Mother's Day flow abruptly spread laterally in series of small budding flows to cover an area nearly 2 km wide, gradually moving seaward until West Highcastle and Wilipe`a lobes finally reached water and started building lava deltas. Activity at West Highcastle ended in early August, but entry began soon thereafter at Highcastle, eventually burying tiny kipuka of Chain of Craters Road. Wilipe`a entry died away slowly and had ended by mid-August. Highcastle and neighboring Highcastle Stairs entries ended on about August 23. For a time there were no active entries. Then Wilipe`a was reactivated on September 3 but stopped in December. West Highcastle likewise renewed activity on September 16-17, died away during night of September 18-19, and returned soon thereafter to continue through March 21. East arm of Mother's Day flow branched from Highcastle lobe in late October and sent three fingers into ocean at Highcastle on November 15, West Lae`apuki on November 19, and Lae`apuki on November 20. Lae`apuki entries had stopped by November 29. If this sounds like soap opera, the truth is even more confusing than the simplified version of activity given here.


Eruption-viewing opportunities change constantly, so refer to this page often. Those readers planning a visit to Kilauea or Mauna Loa volcanoes can get much useful information from Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park; be sure to click on the IN-DEPTH button.

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Updated: 22 September 2003 (DAS)