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August 25, 2016 — Kīlauea


Kīlauea lava flow buries more of the road

Left: Kīlauea Volcano's active lava flow continues to bury more of the emergency access route (Chain of Craters Road) in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Early this morning, slow-moving breakouts were oozing across the road on the west side of the flow. Right: Kīlauea Volcano's older "61g" lava flows have now inflated (left side of photo), creating jagged terrain that rises as much as 3 m (10 ft) above the road. Today, new lava (right) was covering additional areas of the gravel road.

This video clip, filmed on August 12, 2016, shows a typical pāhoehoe breakout on Kīlauea Volcano's "61g" lava flow (actual speed). Since the ongoing East Rift Zone (Puʻu ʻŌʻō) eruption began in 1983, the net result of countless pāhoehoe flows like this is that 142 square kilometers (55 square miles) of federal, state, and private land on Kīlauea Volcano have been covered by lava.

Back at the summit of Kīlauea...

At the summit of Kīlauea, the weather cleared, but inflation turned to deflation and the lava lake level dropped, so the spattering that had been visible from overlooks in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park the past two days is no longer visible today. But, it was a beautiful day to view Halemaʻumaʻu Crater from the Jaggar Museum Overlook! Although the lava lake surface was 32 m (105 ft) below the vent rim this morning, it's still likely that an orange glow from incandescent lava deep within the summit vent will be visible after dark.

August 23, 2016 — Kīlauea


Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake puts on a good show today

Left: In concert with inflationary tilt, the level of Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake rose over the past day and was measured at 28 m (92 ft) below the vent rim this morning. With the higher lake level, and between passing heavy fog and rain showers throughout the day, vigorous spattering on the lake surface was visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Because of calm winds, noise associated with the spattering could be heard from the Jaggar Overlook—amidst the occasional rumble from weather-related thunder. Right: Zooming in on the lava lake, a closer camera view of the spattering lake surface late this afternoon.

August 19, 2016 — Kīlauea


Measuring how much lava is flowing through the 61g tube

HVO geologist conducts a VLF (very low frequency) survey across the episode 61g lava tube to measure the depth and cross-sectional area of lava flowing within the tube.

Aerial view of the Kamokuna ocean entry. Lava is reaching the sea along a broad area about 1 km (0.6 miles) long. In this view, the 61g lava flow is lighter gray in color compared to older lavas.

Kamokuna ocean entry remains active

Aerial view of the Kamokuna ocean entry and the Emergency Access Road cut by the 61g lava flow. 61g lavas are lighter in color than older lavas on the coastal plain. Upslope, a trail of fume marks the lava tube as it passes over the pali.

August 17, 2016 — Kīlauea


Aerial video of Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake posted for your viewing pleasure

This aerial video footage, filmed by USGS in late July 2016, features Kīlauea Volcano's summit vent within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park's Jaggar Museum, and the adjacent USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, are perched on the rim of Kīlauea's summit caldera (foreground of opening footage) just over a mile from the crater, offering spectacular viewing opportunities for Park visitors. Closer to Halemaʻumaʻu, black lava flows on both sides of the summit vent are clearly visible; these flows spilled onto the crater floor when the lava lake overflowed the vent rim in April–May 2015. At the time this footage was captured, the lava lake level was 22–26 m (72–85 ft) below the vent rim; this morning, it was about 32 m (105 ft) below the vent rim. The summit vent, initially 35 m (115 ft) wide when it first opened in March 2008, has since been enlarged by numerous vent rim collapses and is now about 180 by 250 meters (590 by 820 feet) across.

August 16, 2016 — Kīlauea


Hazards associated with the Kamokuna ocean entry an ongoing concern

People who venture too close to Kīlauea's Kamokuna ocean entry—by land or by sea—are at risk from multiple hazards associated with lava flowing into the sea. The white plume formed by the interaction of lava and seawater is a corrosive mixture of super-heated steam, hydrochloric acid, and tiny particles of volcanic glass, all of which should be avoided. Lava deltas (new land formed at the ocean entry) can collapse without warning. Should the lava delta shown here collapse, fragments of molten lava and blocks of hot rock would be thrown both inland and seaward, potentially impacting people on the cliff above the ocean entry and in the boat in front of the delta.

Left: The beauty of Kīlauea Volcano's eastern Kamokuna ocean entry can be enjoyed from a safe distance upwind of where lava flows into the sea. The eastern entry site (shown here) has created a lava delta that is now about 5 acres in size; as this delta grows larger, so does the risk of a sudden collapse. Right: Close-up view (using a zoom lens from a safe distance) of lava streaming into the sea at the eastern Kamokuna ocean entry on Kīlauea.

During a special media briefing today, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists (left) and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park rangers (right) talked about the hazards associated with Kīlauea Volcano's active lava flow and ocean entries, the exciting scientific opportunities posed by flow 61G, and how visitors can safely hike to and view the beauty of lava flowing on land and into the sea.

August 12, 2016 — Kīlauea


Flow "61g" still active

On Friday evening, breakouts from the east side of lava flow "61g" provided good viewing for visitors who walked in from the Kalapana viewing area.

Lava entering the sea on the western side of flow "61g" is building a platform of new land known as a lava delta, which appears deceptively stable. However, the veneer of lava on the delta surface hides a foundation of loose rubble. As a result, lava deltas are extremely unstable, and they can—and do—collapse without warning. The white plume produced when lava enters the sea is a corrosive mixture of superheated steam, hydrochloric acid, and tiny particles of volcanic glass, and should be avoided.

August 8, 2016 — Kīlauea


Explosive event at Kīlauea Volcano's summit

Rocks from the east rim of Kīlauea Volcano's summit vent fell into the lava lake at 10:02 p.m., HST, on Saturday, August 6, triggering an explosive event that hurled fragments of molten and solid rock onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. A light-colored "scar" about 20 m (66 ft) across from this rockfall is visible to the right of the spattering area on the lake surface. Rocks in the vent wall can become unstable when the level of the lava lake drops, as has been going on for the last several days.

Left: The explosive event blanketed the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater with a layer of tephra (volcanic rock fragments) up to about 20 cm (8 in) thick. The tephra deposit was thickest to the east of the former visitor overlook on the crater rim (shown here), where it formed a continuous layer. Bombs were thrown up to 90 m (295 ft) beyond the crater rim at the overlook and were deposited over an area 220 m (720 ft) wide along the rim. Saturday night's explosive event is a reminder of why this area remains closed. Had anyone been standing in this area when it occurred, that person would have been severely burned or killed by the falling debris. Right: Tephra blasted from the summit vent on Saturday night included lithic (solid rock) fragments from the vent wall as well as spatter (molten lava fragments) ejected from the lava lake. The light-colored lithic in the center of this photo is about 20 cm (8 in) long—the GPS unit is shown for scale. Tephra, the general term for volcanic rock fragments exploded or carried into the air during an eruption, can range from dust-size particles to fragments more than 1 m (3.2 ft) in diameter.

Left: In areas not completely blanketed by tephra from the explosive event, impact marks were obvious where large fragments of molten lava (spatter) had landed on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, then bounced or slid to their current positions. In this photo, two large pieces of spatter, 45-60 cm (18-24 in) across, can be seen to the upper right and lower left of the GPS unit. The slightly smoother circular features to the right of these fragments show where those bombs initially hit the crater rim. Right: Volcano monitoring equipment installed on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater was a casualty of Saturday night's explosive event. This pile of charred wires and metal components, surrounded by melted plastic, is all that remains of the power supply for one of HVO's gravity instruments located about 24 m (80 ft) from the crater rim.

August 5, 2016 — Kīlauea


Ocean entry widens

The Kamokuna ocean lava flow entry continues, and is approximately 250 m (820 ft) wide at the point of entry. The 61g flow pāhoehoe activity on the distal half of the coastal plain continues to widen the flow field.

Photo comparison of the emergency access road from July 25, the day the lava first crossed (left), and today August 5 (right). The flow is now approximately 200 m (650 ft) wide on the road and has inflated to a few meters tall (HVO geologist for scale).

August 2, 2016 — Kīlauea


Ocean entry less robust today

Left: During today's overflight of Kīlauea Volcano's "61g" lava flow, the ocean entry appeared less robust, with only one small flow of active lava streaming over the sea cliff. The second, smaller ocean entry point, west of this main entry (noted in our July 29 photo), was not active at the time of the overflight. Right: Upslope of the ocean entry, sluggish pāhoehoe lava continued to break out in several places along the margins of the flow.

July 30, 2016 — Kīlauea


Pāhoehoe lava oozes toward sea cliff

This morning, slow-moving pāhoehoe lava toes and lobes continued to break out from the active flow that crossed the "emergency route" gravel road on Kīlauea Volcano's south flank. Viewing these active breakouts requires a long (8-10 miles, round trip) and hot hike. It is essential for anyone attempting the hike to carry 2-3 quarts of drinking water per person. Sturdy shoes and sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen) are highly recommended. Early morning or late evening hikers should also carry a flashlight and extra batteries. For more safety info, please visit http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2000/fs152-00/ and https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn/photosmultimedia/lava-safety-video.htm.

July 29, 2016 — Kīlauea


Lava continues to flow into the ocean

The 61g lava flow continues to stream into the ocean, with two entry points observed today: the original one, where lava first entered the ocean on July 26 (near center of photo), and a smaller one to the west (far left side of photo). The ocean entries are adding lava to the rubble at the bottom of the sea cliff. Black sand—formed by the interaction of hot lava and cool seawater, as well as by wave erosion of the rocky cliff—is also accumulating along the coastline.

Left: A close-up view of the main ocean entry, showing the accumulation of lava and black sand at the base of the sea cliff. Right: Today, HVO's geology field crew gathered data near the 61g lava flow vent on the eastern flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

At the summit of Kīlauea...

On Friday afternoon, three areas of spattering on the summit lava lake surface produced abundant volcanic gas emissions, one of the main hazards near the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater vent. Earlier this morning, spattering lava was visible from a safe distance at Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

July 27, 2016 — Kīlauea


Ocean entry continues

Lava from the 61g flow continues into the ocean along Kīlauea's south coast. Today's field crew also noted active pāhoehoe breakouts a few hundred meters (yards) upslope from the coast and road.

Meanwhile, back at the summit of Kīlauea...

Perched on the rim of Kīlauea Volcano's summit caldera, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and NPS Jaggar Museum (foreground) overlook the active lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. The black lava flows to the left and right of the fuming vent spilled onto the crater floor in April-May 2015, when the lava lake briefly filled to overflowing.

The summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater continuously circulates, with lava upwelling on one side of the lake and downwelling on the opposite side, often resulting in vigorous spattering (bright spot on left side of lake). As it circulates, sections of the dark-colored, semi-solid lake surface pull apart, revealing the incandescent molten lava beneath and creating the appearance of a jigsaw puzzle. This evening, the lava lake surface was about 26 m (85 ft) below the vent rim. The silhouette of Mauna Loa is visible in upper right.

July 26, 2016 — Kīlauea


Lava flow reaches the ocean

Just over two months since the start of the 61g flow, it reached the ocean on July 26 at 1:15 am HST. The narrow ocean entry was creating a small plume of gas and steam during today's overflight as the lava came into contact with the ocean.

A close-up view of the ocean entry with multiple small fingers of lava spilling over the cliff.

Video of the ocean entry, showing lava spilling over the sea cliff.

Nighttime observations of lava reaching the ocean

Left: HVO geologists in the field overnight observed lava crossing the stretch of land between the "emergency" gravel road and the sea cliff. This photograph shows the flow front a short time before lava reached the ocean. Right: This photograph looks towards the ocean, from a spot along the west margin of the flow, showing the ocean entry plume just minutes after lava first reached the water.

July 25, 2016 — Kīlauea


Lava flow crosses the emergency access road

Flow 61G reached the emergency access road inside Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on July 25 at 3:20 pm and crossed the road in about 30 minutes. At 4:00 pm, the flow front was approximately 110 m (0.07 miles) from the ocean.

Left: View of the slabby pāhoehoe flow front as it crosses to the ocean side of the emergency access road inside Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Right: The active lava flow on Kīlauea Volcano's south flank providing wonderful lava-viewing experiences for Park visitors. A section of the road can be seen here, with fume from the active lava tube in the far distance behind it, and the active flow front in the foreground. The flow front was less than 100 meters (yards) from the ocean when this photo was taken.

July 22, 2016 — Kīlauea


Sluggish pāhoehoe breakouts advance slowly on coastal plain

The flow front remains active and consists of slowly advancing pāhoehoe. There are scattered breakouts along the margins of the flow on the coastal plain and base of the pali. During the overflight today, the flow front was 730 m (0.45 miles) from the ocean.

A faint double rainbow provided a beautiful backdrop for sluggish pāhoehoe lava oozing out from near the flow front this morning.

During early morning field observations, a large breakout of lava near the base of Pūlama Pali (steep fault scarp in background) was visible through fumes from the lava tube and heat shimmer from lava on the coastal plain. The approximate location of the lava tube feeding Kīlauea's active lava flow is visible as degassing sources (white fume) on the pali.

Left: A breakout at the base of the pali viewed by a field crew this morning has formed a channelized ʻaʻā flow on the steeper portion of the coastal plain. Right: A close up view of the ʻaʻā channel.

July 20, 2016 — Kīlauea


Lava flow on coastal plain still active

Left: Kīlauea Volcano's lava flow remains active, with pāhoehoe lobes, like the one shown here, slowly advancing on the coastal plain. Breakouts upslope of the leading edge continue to widen the flow margins. Today, the active flow front was approximately 850 m (0.5 miles) from the ocean, and 720 m (0.4 miles) from the road. Right: The HVO field crew mapped new breakouts on the lava flow by recording GPS points along the active flow margin.

Vigorous spattering on Kīlauea summit lava lake

Left: A long, hot hike was not needed to see red lava today. Vigorous spattering from Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake was visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park as of this afternoon. The lava lake surface, measured at 25 m (82 ft) below the vent rim this morning, was high enough for the spattering to be seen from afar. Right: A zoomed-in view of the lava lake spattering.

July 19, 2016 — Kīlauea


Flow front remains active on coastal plain, but little forward movement

The flow remains active on the pali and coastal plain, with scattered breakouts of pāhoehoe lava. Over the past week, however, the leading tip of the flow has advanced only a short distance. Today, the flow front was 850 m (0.5 miles) from the ocean. In this photograph, the current lava flow is the lighter color area in the center of the photo.

Left: Only a few short sections of road in Royal Gardens subdivision remain uncovered by lava. In this kipuka, about 200 m (220 yards) of Orchid Street is still exposed. Right: This photograph looks downslope at the uppermost section of the Episode 61g flow. The vent is in the lower left corner of the photo. Several collapses have occurred over the lava tube, and the trace of the tube can be seen by the fuming sources extending downslope.

The large hole on the northeast flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō remains open, providing a view of forked lava streams. Since the last overflight on Friday, July 15, the lava streams have started to crust over, reducing the glow in the pit.

July 15, 2016 — Kīlauea


Flow front slowly advancing

The flow front remains active on the coastal plain, but has only moved about 60 m (~200 ft) closer to the ocean in the past three days. As of midday on July 15, the slow-moving pahoehoe is roughly 870 m (~0.5 mi) from the ocean. Activity upslope continues to widen the flow margins. The light gray surface in this image is the new pahoehoe of the 61G flow.

Aerial view of the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Coastal Ranger Station at the end of Chain of Craters Road with the active lava flow (61G) in the distance. Correlative thermal image highlighting the hot, active flow at the top portion of the photo (right).

July 12, 2016 — Kīlauea


Flow front activity persists, but advance still slow

Surface breakouts remained active on the pali and coastal plain, but the leading tip of the flow has advanced little since mapping on Sunday. This morning, the flow front was about 940 m (0.6 miles) from the ocean. Activity upslope of the flow front was widening the flow margins. In this photo, the active flow is the lighter colored area.

Above the pali there are no surface breakouts, and lava is carried downslope within the subsurface lava tube system. The trace of the lava tubes is evident by the line of fuming point sources along the flow. Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and the vent for the current flow, are in the upper left portion of the photo.

July 10, 2016 — Kīlauea


Flow front advance on coastal plain slows further

The leading tip of the flow has moved only 40 m (130 feet) since yesterday's mapping and the lava activity at the tip was still very weak. The leading lava lobe had a dull surface and rough texture suggesting that it may have cooled somewhat within the flow interior.

About 200 meters (yards) upslope of the leading tip of the flow, more typical pāhoehoe was present - with a shiny, smooth surface.

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