Livestream of Kilauea’s Summit Crater

The lava fountains and human drama in Hawaii’s Lower Puna District are getting all the headlines, but geologists know there is also drama ongoing at the summit, where the volcano’s crater seems to have been slowly collapsing since the lava lake drained.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory staff were forced to move farther away from the summit area because the many earthquakes there were damaging the building. Now, they have set up a livestream, and it’s fascinating to watch. Basically, the crater walls are slowly crumbling inward, and there is a pile of rocks at the bottom that may be suppressing the explosions — after a period of suppression, of course, there will likely be a big steam blast to relieve pressure, But no one knows if or when that will happen, or what will happen next.

Anyway, here’s the livestream:

For comparison, here’s a video they recorded in March to mark the ten-year anniversary of the lava lake first appearing in the summit crater. Where he’s standing has already collapsed now.

Here is a drone overlight of Halemaumau they did on May 31st. As you can see, the vent where the lava lake used to be has expanded to almost fill the whole crater. And there’s the rock pile down at the bottom, probably supressing, to some extent, the explosions.

And, about an hour ago, the USGS posted this:

Featured image: USGS. Those curved lines on the left is where the visitor’s parking lot used to be.

June 3, 2018, Fuego Eruption

June 10, 2018: It has been a week, and this is the last update, although the anonymous heroes continue to work in the midst of hot pyroclastic flow deposits, ongoing activity at the volcano, and tropical heat.

Per CONRED today, 197 are still missing, 110 are dead, and a total of 132 are injured (I don’t know the difference between damnificadas and heridas). Some 12,600 people are still evacuated and almost 4,500 people are homeless (though some have gone to stay with nearby relatives).

June 4: This is an amazing picture:

Now the hard news.

As of 5 p.m. local time, CONRED in Guatemala reported these figures:

  • 65 dead. This will probably rise, as rescue efforts reportedly were interrupted by a second eruption today, as well as a landslide.
  • 46 injured
  • 1.7 million people affected
  • 3,271 people evacuated and cared for
  • 1,916 people in shelters
  • 1 airport affected
  • 2 power grids affected
  • 1 bridge destroyed

Original post from June 3 follows.

I just heard about this.

Officially, at least 6 dead and tens of people injured. The Guardian reports multiple fatalities. (Update: At least 25 dead, hundreds injured. Per Reuters, “Officials said the dead were so far all concentrated in three towns: El Rodeo, Alotenango and San Miguel los Lotes.” The “lava” overflowing its banks s/l either a pyroclastic surge or a huge lahar, probably the former; doubt it was actually lava.)

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Guest Videos: Monitoring Volcanoes With Cosmic Rays

You might have heard that they found another chamber in the Great Pyramid recently. Archaeologists and physicists did this by using muons–a type of subatomic particle–to see inside the rock.

Here’s how they did it:

There is another way muon tomography is helping scientists keep people safe: by looking through volcanoes.

This is cutting edge stuff, and work still continues at Soufrière Guadeloupe, where at least five working telescopes were in place in February 2017.

Unfortunately, the last online bulletin of the volcano observatory at Guadeloupe (English translation of website here) is from 2014.

I hope the Great Pyramid discovery may encourage more volcanologists around the world to check out the technique!

Hawaiian Volcanoes: The Big Island 5

Those of us outside Hawaii may be a little off in our perception of the ongoing eruption at Kilauea Volcano:

The image on the left makes sense to anyone who has heard that the Big Island sits on a geological hot spot where molten rock leaks out of Earth’s mantle, forming a series of shield volcanoes.

What we’re missing is the fact that two different local macrofeatures–this mantle hot spot and the Pacific Ocean crust underlying Hawaii–are in constant motion relative to each other. With magma constantly upwelling from below, the end result is less like a conveyor belt of “Hershey’s Kiss” volcanoes and more like what happens when you try to spoonfeed an infant for the first time.

This is how, over the last million years or so, a total of five volcanoes have piled up above the waves together (with some help from submarine volcanoes Mahukona and Loihi) to form the Big Island.

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Guest Video: “Hell on Earth…”

h/t to Dr. Brad Pitcher’s tweet for this. Also, remember this video if you are ever exposed to volcanic ash- try not to breathe it in.

Mount St. Helens is much more peaceful these days:

Featured image: Srosenow 98, CC BY 2.0

Another Kilauea Update

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory/USGS just issued this; I think they mean that the overall deflation at Kilauea’s floor has been 3 feet, not that it dropped that much today. But it’s worth giving you a heads-up because the floor of Kilauea’s summit crater has collapsed before (there’s nobody in it, don’t worry) and it could again – there are some surprising parallels between this ongoing activity and what went on in 1924.

Anyway, here is the update. To follow this eruption in more detail, just click the link in the upper right corner of this page. And thank you for your interest!

U.S. Geological Survey
Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 2:35 PM HST (Thursday, May 17, 2018, 00:35 UTC)

19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WARNING
Current Aviation Color Code: RED


Strong earthquakes within the summit of Kīlauea Volcano continue in response to ongoing deflation and lava column drop. As of the afternoon of May 16, the floor of Kīlauea caldera has dropped approximately 3 feet (90 cm). This movement is stressing faults around the caldera of Kilauea, causing them to move and resulting in strong earthquakes of up to magnitude 4.4 thus far.

Employees at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and nearby residents are reporting frequent ground shaking and damage to roads and buildings. Hawaii County Police reports cracks across Highway 11 between mile markers 28 and 29. Although these are passable, motorists are urged to use caution.

As deflation continues, strong earthquakes in the area around Kilauea Volcano’s summit are expected to continue and may become more frequent. Areas further from these earthquakes may feel some ground motion as well, but much less severe.

The shallow depths of these earthquakes make them more damaging in the immediate vicinity of the epicenter, and individuals need to take precautions to minimize damage from the shaking, including the removal of unstable items from walls and shelves. Steep slopes should be avoided as they may become destabilized during strong earthquakes.

Featured image: USGS

Guest Video: Ioyama Volcano Eruption in Japan

May 7, 2018 update: No eruption since April 27th, per JMA, but volcanic activity continues and the crater perimeter warning is still in place.

April 27 update: JMA says today that Ioyama is still having low-level activity, and that Kirishimayama is inflating a bit, possibly indicating magma flowing into the complex.

For the first time in centuries, a small, unassuming member of the Kirishimayama Volcano group erupted this week.

No one is apparently threatened by this (in fact, another member of this group has been active for a while now). Here is more information on Ioyama and the Kirishimayama Group:

Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism page for the Kirishimayama group.

Japan Meteorological Agency page with activity updates. (I ran the JMA page in Japanese, which is updated more frequently than its English page, through a machine translator for this link, which is now in English.)

Wikipedia page.

H/T to UPI