Saturday, June 23, 2018

Eruption Update

Fissure 8 is continues spewing lava, showing no signs of quitting or even slowing down. Photos show a 165 high spatter cone now surrounding the fountain. At times the fountain is grandly visible over the lip of the cone, other times it appears level with the top of the walls. To one side of the cone no wall has been built due the gushing lava, which forms a inspiring set of lava rapids, continuing on to a flowing lava river.....a river of melted rock. Contrary to Internet b-s, the lava is leaving the cone area at 17 mph (measured by USGS geologists), slowing down a bit as the lava river fans out. No, it's not going 45 mph, or 90 mph, depending upon which Facebook or forum you're reading. Then again, those purveyers of misinformation also think that the entire island (or state) is engulfed in lava. 

Above photo beautifully shows the spatter cone, lava fountain within, and the lava river tumbling through the wall.

Officially this eruption has claimed 617 houses, but the total in reality is higher. Many "homes" don't qualify as houses, so they don't get counted. Many homes aren't on the county tax map, thus not always being counted. Many more structures have also been destroyed -- barns, sheds, greenhouses, livestock shelters, garages, etc. Miles of fencing, plus their fence gates are gone. Around 9000 acres have been covered in lava. And about 9 square miles of new lava land has been created. The toll of possessions lost can never be accurately tallied. There is simply too much lost to be recalled. 

This eruption gives all the appearance of continuing for a while. Below is another view of fissure 8 and dramatizes just how close the eruption is to people's houses. Yes, it opened right in the middle of a housing development. 

Meanwhile, up at Kilauea summit, things have not been quiet. Hundreds of earthquakes occur all day long, many large enough to be felt locally. Halema'uma'u is collapsing into itself, dragging the crater walls into the hole along with surrounding portions of the main caldera. Tiny Halema'uma'u, which at one time I considered to be huge, is now massive and still enlarging. It presently compasses 9+ acres in the corner of the large caldera. Every day it grows larger, becoming an impressive pit crater. How amazing it has been to watch a pit crater being born!! 

The summit activity has more or less settled into a cycle of deflation and explosion. A small steam & ash explosion occurs around every 24 hours. People have become accustomed to the 24 hour cycle so much that they get on edge when it's overdue. The last few explosions have carried very little ash, generally just affecting the Ka'u desert, Kapapala Ranch, and Wood Valley areas. Other areas on Ka'u are getting only the merest dusting. 

Above shows the tiltmeter graft for the past week. The "heartbeat" of Halema'uma'u. People here check the daily tiltmeter readings to guess when the next explosion will occur. 

How will the summit eruption end? We still don't know. 

1 comment:

  1. Good grief, this is is amazing, exciting, and heartbreaking all at the same time. What is happening to all the displaced people who have lost their homes?