It's been five weeks since the first fissures appeared in Leilani Estates. The USGS is now calling this event a full eruption of the Kilauea Volcano, and it is forever changing the landscape of the Island in its southeast corner. This eruption has two areas of focus: the summit of Kilauea and the line of numbered fissures (24) that have opened in the Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ). In the LERZ, Fissure 8 has become the main source of the current lava flow. It's looking more and more like this may be a realignment event - with a new vent shaping up in the LERZ, since the Pu'u O'o vent seems to be done. We have all by now seen the photos of the lava fountaining, the new cinder cones, and the ocean entry where Kapoho Bay once was. I cannot even try to describe the profound loss of the various communities and homes, farms, animals and marine life, and of the people's lives turned inside out.
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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park's Kilauea section remains closed indefinitely. The Kahuku section remains open to visitors, about an hour away in Kau. HVNP rangers are currently based in Hilo and offer a program of activities there. The HVNP's Facebook page is the first go-to source of info regarding what is happening in the Park and in Hilo:
The Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit is still collapsing into itself. Over the course of the last week, the USGS Volcanoes scientists have observed and measured a pattern of small earthquakes followed by ash-producing, gas venting explosive events at the summit, which cycles every 24-48 hours. There were about 3,000 earthquakes last week, with the majority in the imperceptible 1-3 range. Many were in the 3 & 4 range, with several 5+. For the last two days in a row, a 5.4 and a 5.2 occurred just before dawn, with up to 35 earthquakes per hour leading up to them. This cycling pattern ("eat rocks, tummy too full and all gassy, throw rocks and ash, repeat" - thanks Nick!) is expected to continue and no one can predict how long it will last, or if there could be a larger explosive event if this 'venting' process can't keep up with mounting pressure. (This is a simplistic geeky explanation. Please post below if you have a question about this.)
For visitors who remember driving around the whole crater prior to 2008, the old overlook and that part of the road are now gone. The Jaggar Museum's terrace now has a huge crack.
Kilaueau summit webcam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlP-8JiKOS8
The LERZ activity these past two weeks has been dominated by Fissure 8, which has been described as being "stable and steady". It has produced a cinder cone now 130ft high, has fountained in the 250ft range, and is feeding a large channelized flow of lava to the ocean entry point, now estimated to be 1 mile wide. Imagine the volume... and it's not slowing down. The lava delta filling Kapoho Bay is estimated to now measure over 200 acres. The steam plume is so large blowing back inland, that it's affecting the local weather! Scientists are watching for possible lava spill-outs into new lobes. Sulfur Dioxide emissions remain high.
PGCam view of Fissure 8: https:/…
The USGS and USGS Volcanoes Institute continue to provide updates, maps, live cams, and videos.
USGS Kilauea status updates: https:/…status.html
The USGS Volcanoes Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/USGSVolcanoes/…
And the active Twitter feed is: @USGSVolcanoes
Here’s the link to the interactive LERZ eruption map: https://bit.ly/2kMU51Z
The Facebook pages of Ikaika Marzo and Melika Johnson continue to be solid sources of info, regarding what is happening in Lower Puna:
This past week's must-see videos:
The overview of the now-empty Pu'u O'o: https:/…k-lauea-volcano-clear-views-pu-u
The partial collapse of the Halema’uma’u crater: https://www.usgs.gov/media/videos/k-lauea-vo…
An overview of the Rift activity: https://www.usgs.gov/media/videos/k-lauea-vo…
Kilauea Volcano is a shield volcano, not a stratovolcano - it does not behave like Mt St Helen's or the Fuego volcano in Guatemala. The other parts of the island, including Hilo and the major tourist areas of the Kona-Kohala Coast, are not under threat from the ongoing lava or potential explosive event. Vog, however, continues to be an issue in certain communities south and west. Otherwise, there are no health or safety concerns or attraction closures that would necessitate cancelling or changing plans to stay or visit these areas. Beyond Pahoa, there are checkpoints limiting entry into the area.