Monday March 7th, 2011

A 'New' Eruption at the Big Island Volcano! March 6th, 2011

Ok, here's whats actually going on with the volcano on the Big Island right now! This is not 'really' a 'new' eruption. This volcano has been erupting in this same place since 1983! It's just doing new stuff as of yesterday. This happens sometimes. Pressure builds up, lava must escape. There's a new show for a while and then generally things go back to an 'ordinary level of lava eruption.

Watch Video below. I'll get pictures up as soon as I can. As far as I can tell no homes are in danger - this is all happening out in a barren field that has been hit by lava again and again in the last 20+ years.

How Can I See This Lava Flow?

You may not be able to right now, at least unti lthings calm down.

Part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been closed. They are not going to let people out to see this while it is super dangerous. There has been some lava exploding 65 feet into the air too, so my guess is the helicopters aren't even allowed in very close right now. I'm not sure about boats - a boat might be a good bet right now acutally.

For daily updates from the National Park, call 808-985-6000.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

What's Currently Going on at Kilauea; March 2010

image from usgs

The main event on the Big Island, the volcano, continues to entertain visitors. As in January, lava has been visible off and on from the coastal Kalapana view site. And the more recent eruption deep inside the caldera within the National Park's Halema`uma`u Crater has continued to cast a red glow at night and send up a a steam plume during the day.

Kalapana View Site

Viewing conditions vary here. Sometimes you can see the lava entering the sea and other times this view is blocked by the lava delta that intermittently builds and then caves in.

To get a close up view of the sizzling lava splashing into the ocean, take one of the lava boat tours, such as Lava Ocean Adventures

You can get the most recent update of visibility from the Kalapana lava viewing site by calling (808) 961-8093. Currently (Feb. 26) visitors can see some of the lava flow as it makes its way down the mountain towards the cliffs. The lava flows through a system of underground, but surface outbreaks allow us to see parts of the flow.

The Kalapana site is managed by Hawaii County Civil Defense. You'll find the parking lot at the end of Highway 130 just a few minutes south of the town of Pahoa on the Windward side below Hilo. Here are directions.

If you go, wear protective shoes and pants as lava rock is quite sharp. The viewing is best at night so bring a flashlight. Binoculars will also come in handy. To be admitted to the site, visitors must arrive before 8 p.m. You can stay though till 10 p.m. The site opens at 5 p.m.

Halema`uma`u Crater

Currently just as through last month there isn't a surface eruption; the lava lake is over 600 feet down inside a caldera that is inside this crater. At night thought a red hot glow is visible above the crater. The best viewing continues to be from the Thomas Jaggar Museum in Volcano National Park. In the daytime all that is currently visible is a steam plume, but when everyone out on the viewing is quiet, you can often hear the crackling from the pit.

For daily updates from the National Park, call 808-985-6000.

Friday, January 22, 2010

January 2010 Update; Volcano Awareness Month on the Big Island, Hawaii

Summary: During January, Volcano Awareness Month, the Big Island's volcano Kilauea, continues to erupt and put on displays for visitors.

Kilauea volcano continues to awe visitors, both in the Volcano National Park's Halema`uma`u Crater and at the Kalapana Viewing Site outside the Park while Hawaii County kicks off the new year with Volcano Awareness Month.

Volcano Month
To help promote understanding and respect for the volcanoes that form our Hawaiian Islands, the County of Hawaii (Big Island) declared January as Volcano Awareness Month. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, the University of Hawai'i at Hilo and Hawai'i County Civil Defense coordinated to sponsor a slew of volcanic events.

Ironically, Volcano Month's kickoff event on January 2 inside the National Park had to be canceled due to high levels of sulfur dioxide spewed from Halema`uma`u Crater. Events scheduled throughout the month include special programs, movies, guided hikes, art classes that focus on the volcano, vog information, and special evening talks. Most of these activities are held inside the National Park. View the event calendar and get more details at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory page at the USGS site.

Halema`uma`u Crater at the National Park.

With road closures around Halema`uma`u due to the eruption with its steam, ash and sometimes far flung rocks, the best view is from the lanai (patio) of the Jaggar Museum. In the daytime, you will likely see steam and ash, but night time visitors are often rewarded with a glow that is created by the lava that bubbles and sloshes deep within in the pit of the crater. The levels of the sulfur dioxide emitted from the crater often change, and the National Park Service provides updates every few minutes .

Those on the Windward (east) side of the Big Island have had less vog this week, thanks to the return of the tradewinds that carry the sulfur laden plume southwest over the towns of and onward to Kona. Southwesterly winds are expected tonight, which means vog for the windward side and a breath of fresh air for the south and leewards sides of the Big Island.

Kalapana Viewing Site
Here at the Civil Defense managed site, visitors can sometimes see the lava entering the sea and/or flowing over the pali (cliffs) on its way to the ocean, or that is in the places where it travels above ground. The site is located at the end of Highway 130 in Kalapana. More details in my last post.

If you go:
Directions to the Kalapana Viewing Site.
For daily update provided by the Volcano National Park service, focusing on Halaema`uma`u Crater in the Park, call (808) 985-6000 For daily update for conditions and lava flow visibility at the Kalapana Viewing area, call (808) 961-8093.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Kilauea Eruptions, Lava Viewing, December. 2009

Summary: Things have been heating up at the volcano and lava flow viewing sites.

Halema`uma`u Crater Eruption, Volcano Summit in the National Park

A glow can be seen at night that is created by a pool of molten lava that rises and falls and bubbles at the bottom of a 665 deep vent within Halema`uma`u Crater at Volcano National Park. A webcam perched on the caldera's rim is recording this activity, and visitors are flocking to the Jaggar Museum where from the lookout point at night they can see the glow when the lava rises in this pool.

There are also minor explosions from the vent. During the rare moments when all the visitors are quiet, you can hear the crackling! In the daytime we can see the gray plume rising up from the crater and the smaller black clouds that emerge from the explosions. The area near the caldera is blocked off to protect people from the fall out ejected with explosions, and geologists keep close tabs on the volcano for signs of an any impending larger explosions.

Lava Flowing to the Sea - View from the Puna Coast

The viewing area was temporarily closed for a few days last week when a steam plume carrying Pele's hair (thin slivers of black colored glass) and hydrochloric acid was blown inland over the viewing area. With wind conditions closer to normal, the area is now reopened. Visitors are seeing at night a glow where the lava enters the ocean. Currently the delta created by the cooling lava is blocking the view of the actual lava exploding into the water, but about every couple weeks these walls collapse, once again giving everyone a glimpse of this awesome sight. Recent surface outbreaks are happening once again, meaning you can sometimes see red ribbons of lava off in the distance.

If you go: The lava rock trail here is bumpy and the lava's glass like nature makes it sharp, so wear jeans or other protective pants and closed-toe shoes. And do bring a flashlight! The site is open from 5 p.m. - 10 p.m., but no one is admitted after 8 p.m. Here are the directions. Conditions and viewing possibilities frequently change, so here's also a number to call for the daily update: 961-8093.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

August 2009 Kilauea Volcano, Big Island Updates

Summary: Nothing new is going on with the volcano right now. There are steam and ash plumes to be seen at the ocean and the summit.

Here's what's going on with the volcano. I will only update this post before September if anything major changes.

Up at the summit, within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, there is an eruption with the Halemaumau Crater. It is easily seen from the Jaggar museum. All that can currently be seen is a large smoke plume which looks like this.

At the ocean, another smoke plume can be seen from lava entering the ocean from Kilauea Vent. Sometimes glow and lava can also be seen entering the ocean. Occasionally lava breakouts can occur on land and can be seen from some distance away, although the longer the eruption continues over the same path, the less likely this is (because it ends up traveling through underground tubes mostly) and right now this seems quite unlikely, although things can change in an instant.

To see the activity at the ocean, you'll need to drive down to the county access road (directions), park, and then hike in to the viewing area.

The hike is over old lava and could be a mile or more. The viewing area is 3/4s of a mile away from the actual activity for safety reasons. Bring flashlights and water, wear jeans and rugged, closed shoes.

Call 808-985-6000 for daily updates from the national park. See the county site on the lava access road for safety and closure information.

For an adventure, consider seeing it by boat

Kilauea - Big Island Lava Flow Directions, Puna or County Side

To get to the lava flow from the county or Puna side of it, here's the directions:

From Kona, get to Hilo or Volcano Village by your desired road, then follow directions below. Going Waimea way or going Volcano Village way will both take about the same amount of time. Waimea way is an easier drive. Volcano Village way is not a hard drive but there are plenty of curves in the early part of it. If you go volcano village way you could make a stop at Punaluu Black sand beach if you wanted to.

From Volcano Village, come down Hwy 11, and turn right on Hwy 130 in the Keaau area. From Hilo, go up Hwy 11, and turn left on Hwy 130 in the Keaau area.

Follow Highway 130 to the very end - don't make the left to go to Kalapana, just follow it to the barricades and that is where the new road, which is just a gravel, bulldozed road, is.

This will take about 30 - 35 minutes from Keaau.

The county road is typically open from 5 to 10, with the last car allowed in at 8. Wear jeans and closed, rugged shoes (if you fall down the old lava will tear up exposed skin). Bring a flashlight. Bring water. Bring binoculars if you have them.

Here's a post with pictures from the last time I went out. That was when the surface flows just started on this side again, so there won't typically be that many people unless something exciting happens.

Here's the County Website on this road. Click through to their FAQ to see the current complete data on opening and closing times and safety.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Lava Lake and Littoral Explosions

Well, Kilauea Volcano is really pulling some crazy stunts lately. What's going on right now at the lava flow is that the lava is flowing in to the ocean via underground tubes, so you can't see any hot lava on the surface - you can see a steam plume and today there were explosions:

photo: USGS

The area of the flow is still reachable at the end of Hwy 137.

Up within the National Park, Halemaumau has a lava lake within it BUT you can only see it from helicopter. Could you imagine though - one little bit of pressure more and Halemaumau might start spurting lava into the air again like it did 100 years ago. Talk about amazing. and exciting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Ash Plume at the Summit - Kilauea Volcano going off!

Wow, Kilauea is turning a lot of heads these days. First, the new easily-viewable flows down by the ocean and now Halemaumau Crater at the summit is smoking! Amazing! For those of you who have been to the park before, this is the crater within a crater that is across from Kilauea Military Camp and seen best from Jaggar Museum. Halemaumau hasn't done this in almost 100 years! How fascinating (and a little scary) to think that this crater could start shooting lava miles into the air at any time! A few thousand people live within a few miles all around.

So, according to the local news, a few days ago the crater had a little "hiccup", shooting rocks in all directions. And since the day before yesterday, some lava is actually coming out, although it's not easily viewable.

My son and I went up yesterday afternoon and this is what we saw.

It was really cool. The road is closed after KMC because the fumes are deadly so getting to the Jaggar museum is impossible. We looked at it from the steam vents. As we drove into the parking area we could see the ash plume looming miles up in the sky. It was really neat to look at. We walked the short path to the viewing area and although you can't see lava from there, it was still very cool.

Next week is the Merrie Monarch festival, and it usually starts with a ceremony at the edge of that crater - about 50 feet from where that great ash plume starts. While we were there a group of hula dancers showed up where we were to apparently start the ceremony there instead. Double cool!

So, to recap, the lava is still flowing down at the Puna-side access road, and now, within the park is this great plume of ash and lava .. and who knows what will happen next!

Monday, March 10, 2008

New Lava Access Road - How to Get to the Lava

So, my son and I took a trip out to the lava flow yesterday. It is indeed located where the old barricades on Hwy 130 are. Just head into Puna on Highway 130, go past Pahoa, go past all the subdivisions, and DON'T turn left where it says Kalapana, instead continue straight to the "end of the road".

There were hundreds of cars and thousands of people. We gave four people a ride in and 2 people a ride out. Apparently the line was so bad at 2 p.m. when they opened that most people just parked on the side of the road and hiked in. I would NOT recommend this as it's 2.2 miles to get to the end of the road and another 2 miles in and out if the lava is doing it's thing far away.

The road is narrow, but smooth. There were 6 or 7 police, dozens of public works workers, and a few National Park Rangers. I have to hand it to the county - they did a really good job.

On the way, we passed two electronic road signs that both said "No active flows visible. Lava not entering the ocean". We went anyway, and luckily we saw both active flows and ocean entry! The lava can do anything at any time! :)

I took my almost-5-year-old out and he loved it. I saw babies and kids and quite old people. The walk out was challenging - there is no trail so it's on very bumpy, crumbly old lava. The nice thing about entering from the Puna side of the flow is there were no fumes - they were all blowing the other way with the trade winds.