Sunday, February 28, 2010

Major tsunami averted ~ Deflation subdues lava viewing fun

~ Full Moon-Feb27-2010 -- Above a Tsunami survivor: the Island of Hawaii ~
(Click on the image for a larger size)

I was hoping to post photos of waves sweeping over roads or other exciting (non-life threatening) tsunami images, but we were spared the anticipated 9 to 12-foot waves forecast to hit here at 11:00 Saturday the 27th of February - generated from the devastating 8.8 magnitude Chilean earthquake from the day before; but we did get a tsunami beginning about 11:20 AM.

The shores directly in front of my house were the first ones in all of Hawaii affected by the incoming waves, next was Hilo Bay. What we saw was a reseeding of water, followed by a rush of water back in that looked like a super fast high-low tidal event: stronger each time for the first four waves, then decreasing after that for nearly an hour. For awhile it was like, “Oh! This IS happening!”… But we could soon see it was not going to become serious.

Watch the water and reefs as these sped up images show the first few tsunami surges in this poor quality home web cam at a Hilo hotel lanai overlooking Coconut Island in Hilo Bay shows a time-lapse of this event

Otherwise the most exciting part was the blaring tsunami warning sirens waking us all up at 6:00 AM, and repeated every hour until 11:00AM. It was an absolutely perfect Hawaiian weather day as well. Surfing seemed the logical plan for the day except the ocean currents were majorly messed up for safe paddling out there.

So the only photo I took on this infamous event day/night was this Full Tsunami Moon out my bedroom window.

Magma pressures beneath Halema’uma’u & Pu`u O`o crater’s has dropped considerably in the past few days, resulting in minimal views of active lava being seen either in the day or after dark. This is true for both the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park’s Kilauea pit-crater lava vent (the Halema’uma’u), as well as sightings of lava from the Hawaii County Civil Defense viewing area’s off the end of highway 130 near Kalapana.

Until a return of inflationary magma pressure within the volcano I would expect only moderate glowing of lava at either active location after dark; weather permitting. If you have never seen lava glowing colors after dark then both venues may be worth trying to see.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nighttime glows continue at two locations

(Click on the images for a larger size)
The image above is what the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Overlook web cam captured at midnight last night: a super bright broiling lake of lave down inside that pit vent. The one below here is the same vent earlier at 9:30PM, with much less activity.

Wind directions at the Kilauea Caldera area allowed for good views of the active vent at times, but occasionally limited the enjoyment by blowing toxic fumes towards the Jaggar overlook balcony. Below is the view from Park Jaggar Museum web cam at around 10:00 PM. When you can see this much red on this cam a night you know the vent is kickin big-time.

A two-thirds full moon is lighting up the whole crater and the sulfur dioxide plume in the evening, which allows for greater photography options:

Meanwhile down on the coastal flats and pali (off the end of highway 130 near Kalapana) lava flow conditions remain much the same over the past few days: some strong lines of lava seen at a distance of three miles. Bring binoculars if possible.

After a few days of strong lava pressures deflation appears to be kicking back in:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lava activity continues strongly at two locations

(Click on the image for a bit larger size)

Between bouts of mist and fog, the Halema’uma’u Crater pit vent glowed brightly; as seen in this photo I took there last night. Visitors had to have time and patience to get unveiled pit vent glow views.

Reports from the coastal flats say that after dark molten lava glow down the pali is pretty bright in places and was even burning some more vegetation along the route to the growth-less coastal flats below. The Hawaii Civil Defense’s new coastal flats observation area seems to be delivering some good, but distant, views of the molten lava. Bring binoculars if possible.

Lava continues slowly advancing towards the sea, and if the direction of this part of the flow remains the same, it will be crossing into the borders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park soon, not that it will make much difference to viewing the lava at this point. The the overall daytime scene on the coastal plains was described in this post & photo.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lava activity strong

I watched strong glow emanating from Halema’uma’u crater cam late last night.

Civil Defense personnel at the coastal viewing area reported a very strong new line of lava coming down the mountainside and on to the coastal flats, which was quite pronounced after dark from their new lava viewing area located on the edge of the broad coastal flats, or Pele’s playground as I like to call it.

Using one of USGS/HVO’s recent aerial images of the lower regions of new active surface lava I added some descriptive text to help explain a few things:(Click on the image for a larger size)

Deformation graphs continue recording a strong rise in magma pressures below the Kilauea Caldera and Pu`u O`U crater.

Best Lava Viewing:
After dark: Both the Halema’uma’u crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as seen from the Jaggar Museum balcony overlook - and - Hawaii County Civil Defense viewing area off the end of highway 130 near Kalapana/Kaimu .

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Inflation spikes back ~ New lava viewing trail is open

The new lava path goes right through this same area that was molten in October.
The road in the photo below is now 20-feet under lava and the new path runs right overtop that.

Deformation D/I graphs registered an inflationary spike early this morning at both Kilauea and Pu`u O`o craters.
This should translate to more visual activity of lava such as a periodically stronger glow after dark inside the Halema’uma’u crater pit vent, and stronger surface lava running down the mountain side and onto the coastal flats as it heads toward the sea; especially after dark. The surface lava has not yet reached the ocean; with renewed pressures it could do so in the next week or two.

This new pali lava will be all the more visible thanks to the newly marked pathway laid out across the lava fields west of the Hawaii County trail head information booths (end of highway 130 near Kalapana/Kaimu). The new path meanders about 1600-feet across uneven raw lava and this takes us out past the tree line that had been obstructing this most recent surface flow. Also, the lava path is still warm in places because it was flowing liquid hot at the end of last October. Photos and descriptions of that surface flow are posted on my blog over several days such as this post.

Best views of of lava are after dark at both the Halema’uma’u in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Jaggar Museum balcony overlook) and the surface flow near Hawaii Counties viewing area. Bring flashlights for the new path, vendors may or may not have these available. The county Civil Defense does not provide flashlights.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Deflation slows things down

Not much new to report:

Deflation of magma under Kilauea has dimmed the lava glow we have been enjoying after dark all week.

The same deflation has reduced the active surface lava running down the mountain, which now flows partway to the sea on the coastal flats. This surface flow is inland about three miles away from the Hawaii County Viewing area, but some glow spots can e seen after dark from there. The coastal section of the surface flow is now within ½ mile of the Volcanoes National Park Boundary.

For more information on the lava and other Big Island stuff you can refer to my list of links here

Monday, February 15, 2010

NOTE added Feb. 16th {Halema’uma’u glowing strong after dark ~ Royal Gardens lava flow continues towards ocean

EDIT NOTE: I will only post updates when active lava conditions substantially change from the current posting, or if some other noteworthy event takes place. So for February 16th the following information is still appropriate today/tonight:
(Click on these images for a larger size)

Despite an obscuring mist wafting across the crater, there were moments of good views of an undulating strong glow of molten lava reflecting up into the sulfur dioxide plume at Halema’uma’u last night. I took these two photos around 10:30 PM from the Jaggar Museum balcony overlook.

Meanwhile down on the coastal lava fields near Kalapana, lava continues it’s long flow down the pali and onto flatter ground on its way towards the ocean. The after dark scenes from Hawaii County viewing area are still possible, but are greatly diminished from last weeks bright line of lava that I reported on.

This reduction in glow intensity does not mean the lava is no longer there – it indicates it is crusting over and becoming hidden within self-created lava tubes along the way. Another factor in the diminished glow is the strong deflation taking place the past few days. Deflation has ended and pressures are beginning a return to the volcano, which are bringing enhanced glow at Kilauea and will strengthen surface flows in the days just ahead.

For an excellent view of what the current surface flow of lava is really doing, click on each of the three image links below from February 12th, 2010:
USGS Aerial of Royal Gardens surface flow facing north

USGS Aerial of Royal Gardens surface flow facing southwest toward the ocean

-And USGS Aerial of Royal Gardens surface flow closer overtop

Visitor suggestion:
If you have not witnessed the Halema’uma’u Crater after dark I highly recommend checking it out this week. If you have the time, and have not yet seen the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park in the daytime, I would suggest going there in the day and exploring the area; visit the information center, arts center and Jaggar Museum for sure. Then wait until dark at the Jaggar to possibly see fiery views of what Hawaiian’s consider to be the volcano goddess Pele’s Home.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Outside links to Kilauea Volcano activity ~ Blogger on a break

I will be unavailable for posting first hand accounts of our lava activity or any other reporting for a few days. Below I have listed various links for daily updates for the volcano, as well as weather & surf conditions.

USGS/Hawaiian Volcano Observatory update status page. This great site contains a nice summary of current volcano conditions.
Across the top of that page are prime links to their other websites:
Deformation (DI/Deflation-Inflation graphs),

latest volcano images,

Timelapse movies,

flow field maps,

Webcams (day or night)

Other Links:

Recent Earthquakes on Big Island,

USGS/HVO sulfur dioxide emissions map update,

National Weather Service Honolulu

Hawaii surf conditions and alerts

Hawaii radar loop showing rain shower activity.

Infrared vapor loop Hawaii

Northeast Pacific water vapor imagery

Other links are located on the bottom right side of the blog,


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Deflation returns ~ Surface flows continue

As the graph above reveals, deflation returned within the magma chambers beneath Kilauea crater and Pu`u O`o at 5:30 PM yesterday.

The USGS/HVO map of recent earthquakes on the Big Island continues recording lots of small tremors; some possibly related to the onset of magma deflation:

For an in-depth report for the volcano you can read through today’s USGS/HVO report here. They talk about rock falls within the Halema’uma’u crater pit vent and related earthquakes, as well as their take on the eruptive zones and sulfur dioxide emission rates, etc.

I was unavailable for any first-hand accounts last night, or for posting this blog at my usual 10 to 11:00 AM time this morning. In fact I may be less & less available to write this blog in the days and weeks ahead because I am starting on some other projects that will use up a lot of energy and time. One of those projects is a large photo assignment I have given myself… But I will try to keep posting a little bit of lava activity and other news as often as possible, or at least provide outside links for some information as I did above.

I did get one report from a friend who is a vendor at the county viewing area and he said the lava glow coming down the pali had diminished somewhat from the night before. Added to his report and the current deflationary stage we are now into, we could see an even further reduction in visible lava-glow activity at night in the days ahead.

The Halema’uma’u has still been displaying some variable pit vent glow after dark, as seen from the Jaggar Museum overlook lanai.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lava activity strong at Halema’uma’u and surface eruption flow

(Click on the image for a larger size)

A woman holds her camera up to capture the Halema’uma’u Crater at dusk last night from the Jaggar Museum overlook balcony. I stitched together the USGS/HVO Jaggar cam’s three images. Clicking on this link will take you to the cam to see what’s happening there right now.

Hawai’i Volcano Observatory’s update this morning reported , “ The glow, visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook, was the brightest since January 19, 2010.

Deformation graphs are showing a holding pattern for the magma pressure uder the volcano. This is good news for those wanting to view lava activity after dark at either Halema’uma’u Crater in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or out at the Hawaii County lava viewing area at the end of highway 130 near Kalapana. (Bring binoculars if possible)

More small eathquakes under Kilauea Volcano and the local rift zones:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Increased activity down the pali ~ Unidentified object in sky over lava flow

(Click on image for a larger size)

Above is a comparison of the surface flow of lava coming down the pali on the night-before-last and last night; as viewed from the Hawaii County viewing area trailhead. Last night’s line of lava flowing down the pali was much brighter than the previous night; likely do to the increased magma inflation below the Kilauea volcano over the past two days.

Okay, now on to the other photo I took last night (below)… I took only two photos of the pali surface flow last night, and only a couple minutes apart: This one below is the first of the two, and when I got home and reviewed them I immediately saw his very odd aberration in the sky above the burning forest and rivers of molten lava… and I continue to be puzzled as to what it actually is and/or, what caused it. If you have any ideas I would love to hear from you! (Click on image for a larger size)

Below is the current deformation monitor graphs showing continued inflation at both Halema’uma’u & Pu`u O`o craters.

Summary and projection:

Molten lava has been flowing for several miles down the mountainside for the past week or more, and has become much more active and visible after nightfall. The lava is a mix of pahoehoe and A`a and is also burning all vegetation along its path, terminating onto the coastal lava plain below the pali (cliffs). Field reports confirm the lava is slowly proceeding onto the coastal plain.

Views of the lava down the pali can be seen from the last mile of highway 130 near Kalapana, as well as within the Hawaii County lava viewing designated area. (The County is completing a new view trail and viewing area this week. This area will have a good vantage point for the current flow).

Halema’uma’u crater pit vent has been glowing after dark and can be viewed from the Jaggar Museum lanai all night. Sulfur dioxide fumes pushed by changing winds can sometimes ruin the outlook view, and are not good to be breathing.

The UGS/HVO deformation monitor graphs above are demonstrating a slowing or even a possible reversal of the last two days of inflation. In the past, a switch to deflation has reduced the Halema’uma’u after-dark glow, as well as reducing the intensity of the visible lava on the pali. This lessening of lava movement & volume sometimes takes a few days to be pronounced on the pali surface flows.

So if you are wanting to witness either of these molten lava events, tonight and tomorrow might be better than the days to follow – IF – deflation of magma returns, which is not quite known yet. (If you are reading this late in the day or on the 9th, then click on the deformation link above for a refreshed look at the graphs).

If visiting the coastal lava viewing area, bring binoculars if you can.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pali lava goes from dim to bright ~ Same with Halema’uma’u ~ Inflation holding

(Click on the photo for a larger size)

The 200+ visitors to Hawaii County’s lava viewing area did not see much in the afternoon, just some smoky areas in a line down the pali on the western edge of Royal Gardens to the coastal Plains. As evening came on we could at first see only a few dots of lava in the same area. Then later, after 8:30 PM, a far more distinct line of red-orange molten lava was quit visible. I took the above photo with a 200mm lens at 9:00 PM. The area covered in the image is only a small portion of the entire line of lava running down the pali, and in this shot we can see trees alight with glow as well. Far east of this lava, and high on the pali, we could also see a broad area of red glow reflecting off clouds and also a few bright lava glows on the very edge of the pali; indicating there is a lot of surface lava just out of view: between the pali edge as viewed from sea level and the eruption site 2+ miles further up the mountain beyond view.

USGS/HVO’s Kilauea Status page this morning states about last night view from Jaggar Museum in relationship to the continued inflation:“The increase in activity produced the strongest glow in almost a week within the gas plume visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook.

That inflation is showing on the deformation graph like this:

A few new earthquakes recorded on USGS/HVO recent earthquakes site last night: And by clicking on the link you can see a few more quakes recorded after this saved image from last night.


Views of both the Halema’uma’u crater glow and the molten lava running down the pali should both be nicely visible after dark; depending on the weather, vog and wind direction – especially true for the Jaggar Museum overlook; conditions change there by the hour sometimes. If you are considering a visit to the Hawaii County viewing area, binoculars make the sights a little better to see.

Speaking of the Hawaii County lava viewing area, located off the end of highway 130 near Kalapana, the county is considering creating a new trail and lava viewing area west of the current trailhead. A half mile west is a large lava mound deposited by last Octobers surface flow and this mound would make for a nice vantage point for visitors. Plans for this new path are in the works and I will let you know when it is open.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Inflation returning ~ Molten lava reaches coastal plane

(Click on the image for a larger size)
The USGS/HVO posted this image above, along with other detailed aerial and ground images of the current surface flow of lava, on their Kilauea Images page. But also checkout the other images on their site linked above to see what is happening there.

On one of the images (above) I added a note pointing out where Jack Thompson’s house is located. Thompson is the last resident still occupying, and living in, a home within the infamous Royal Gardens subdivision. Lava flows have been covering over portions of the subdivision for many years now. He has had molten lava approach close to his home on all sides over the years. Jack has a beautiful home and I hope he can withstand this latest onslaught of molten rock, which is now running down the slopes and burning forest only a few hundred feet away.

Out at the Hawaii County lava viewing area off the end of highway 130, visitors can still see smoke & lava in the distance. The USGS monitored Deformation had been registering deflation the last few days, which has slowed some of the intensity, but it continues and will likely respond with more intensity in the days ahead to the present inflation that started very early this morning:

The National Weather Service Honolulu has a high surf warning for all the Hawaii Islands. The other islands will see North/Northwest swells of 10 to 20 foot faces, while Hawaii may get some of it:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Deflation continues slowing activity ~ Nice line of lava viewed after dark ~ Southwest rift-zone quakes

Photos of the day ~ A reposting of what the flow fields looked like last week (the two above and one further below). I am posting these three again because of how similar the lava looks out there right now; too similar to bother retaking the photos. The main difference to be seen now, though, is that now the visible lava can be seen much further down to the left than is visible in these images. (Click on any image or the maps below for a larger viewing size.

Deformation monitors are showing continued deflation of magma pressures beneath the two recording stations: Halema’uma’u and Pu`u O`o:

A couple of hundred people gathered at Hawaii County’s lava viewing area to witness molten lava slowly moving down the pali yesterday and into the evening. During the day we could see sections of forest burning and the occasional ball of yellow flame shoot-up as individual trees caught fire. After dark the burning forest really stood out, as well as a broken line of red-orange lava that ran from the base of the pali all the way to the top: an approximate elevation drop of 1600-feet across a two-mile run down the mountain.

The recently updated flow field map by the USGS/HVO shows the location of the entire eruption (From ‘D-vent’ into Royal Gardens).

Recent earthquakes map shows that Pahala has received four quakes recently: two at a magnitude of 3 or more and two near the 2.0 range. Three of these were at a depth of around 22 miles, and a smaller 2.0 at a shallow 3 miles. These quakes are along the southwest rift-zone and would be of great interest to geologist because the tremblers may indicate magma movement in that area.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Deflation slowing down ~ Upper & lower flow fields still active ~ Gusty cold north winds continue

Photo of the Day – 2008 Waikupanaha ocean entry lava explodes into the sea while a surface breakout of pahoehoe lava spreads inland -(Not what is happening now unfortunately)

I was unable to go to the flow fields for firsthand look yesterday, but I did receive reports stating the molten lava continued down the new pathway from the top of the pali to its base. (Here’s an image took of this flow earlier this week)

According to tiltmeters on top of Kilauea’s Halema’uma’u and Pu`u O`o craters, the current episode of deflation is leveling off after over 24 hours of dropping. As per usual, we can expect this deflation to reflect onto the current surface flow by manifesting as a lessening of lava feeding it. These kind of changes are not always abrupt and I would imagine molten lava will still be quite visible from the Hawaii County viewing area tonight after dark.

Halema’uma’u Crater cam this morning displayed a strong plume blowing southwesterly.

USGS/HVO update this morning stated that glow from inside the craters pit vent was weak last night.

Cold north winds have blasted the Big Island for over 30-hours straight. Click here complete Hawaii Islands weather update.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Molten lava river reaches base of pali ~ Deflation slows advancing lava ~ Cold & gusty north winds

Shot of the Day: Pahoehoe lava formation termed a ‘Toe’ by geologists

My house is being blasted by very strong, gusty and cold north winds this morning!

Reports from the active lava flow fields from all sources say that the long line of moving lava coming off the top of the pali and running down through the western side of what was the Royal Gardens subdivision, has continued and now has reached the base of the pali and may move out onto the coastal flats toward the ocean.

The movement of lava out across the lava flats, across previous flows, may be jeopardized by the onset of deflation beneath the Kilauea and Pu`u O`o craters.
As the USGS Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory often points out, as they did in their Volcano Observatory update this morning, deflation of monitored magma often leads to a reduction in the Halema’uma’u, and possibly the Pu`u O`o pit vent brightness and followed soon after, a lessening of surface flow activity of molten lava from the eruption fissures.

I may go out to the lower flow fields’ today/tonight and take a look at the activity and give a report tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Little change in activity

The Halema’uma’u on a magic night: setting half moon with Jupiter above (Click on it for a larger size view)

Surface flow lava continued to be visible from the Hawaii County Civil Defense viewing area at the end of Highway 130 and they are open 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM or so, depending on the number of visitors, which has been around 100 to 130 each day in the past few weeks. The viewing area is still presently open every day of the week regardless of lava activity on the adjacent flow fields.

I will offer a more comprehensive report in the days ahead, or if lava activity does something new and exciting. If you would like more information on the lava activity please use the links I provide on the bottom right and throughout my blog posts,

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lava continues moving down the pali ~ Rare moonlit night rainbow

(Click on any image for a larger size)

Even three nights after being full, the moon was still bright enough from the east to produce a colored rainbow inside a rain shower inland last night around 10:00 PM. I took this photo, and the ones to follow, from my home. The right side of the rainbow and a star.

The shower was moving fast so I had only seconds to catch this zoomed in photo; it was hard to lock in the focus in the dark, but at least I was able to capture the phenomenon. In this photo above we can actually see lava reflecting off low clouds eighteen miles away - seen as a pale reddish horizontal line just above the fuzzy treetops. This is the same lava flowing down the pali as shown close-up below:

Taken with a 300mm lens from the Hawaii County lava viewing trailhead last night at 8:00 PM – light rain showers and low clouds reflect the surface lava. The people gathered there witnessed molten lava moving and the occasional tree blazing into a fireball. Those who brought binoculars got the best views. You can compare this to the wide angle night view of this scene I posted yesterday.

The recent inflation of magma has leveled out but appears to still be pressurized near the baseline of zero, according to the USGS/HVO deformation monitors: I expect we will continue seeing the lava moving down the pali in the days & night ahead.