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:


https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js




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


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.

Continue reading

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!


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

KILAUEA VOLCANO (VNUM #332010)
19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WARNING
Current Aviation Color Code: RED

KĪLAUEA INFORMATION STATEMENT

Strong earthquakes within the summit of KÄ«lauea Volcano continue in response to ongoing deflation and lava column drop. As of the afternoon of May 16, the floor of KÄ«lauea 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


Frank A. Perret Versus the Volcano

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

All volcanologists must be a little crazy somewhere deep down inside.

Frank Alvord Perret was perhaps the craziest, or so it seems to a layman. Why else would he stick a crowbar down almost the length of his arm into the brightly glowing fissure of an erupting volcano and then pull the bar out again…just to test a hypothesis?

At the time of the writer’s visit, the lava was incandescent, but not liquid, on the inner walls of fissures overstanding the main vents of Chinyero, where the electric pyrometer showed temperatures ranging from 750 degrees to 860 degrees Centigrade. Convinced that these surface temperatures could not be due to conduction from below and that, instead, they were maintained by the ascending gases, the writer was able to demonstrate this by experiment. A place was found where the fissure could be obstructed by the introduction of an iron crowbar, horizontally, at a meter below the surface, whereupon the flow of gas was stopped and the incandescence rapidly died out. On the withdrawal of the bar, the gases re-ascended and gradually kindled the inner walls to a bright red glow, as before.

— From “The Volcanic Eruption at Tenerife in the Autumn of 1909” (PDF).

By all accounts, Frank Perret was also one of the best volcanologists ever.
Continue reading