What's Going On With the Volcano?

Zoomed photo of lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u
Zoomed photo of Halema‘uma‘u from Jaggar Museum on October 15, 2016

NPS/J. Wei

 
Current Conditions Courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
 
Halema‘uma‘u viewed from Jaggar Museum on October 10, 2016
Halema‘uma‘u viewed from Jaggar Museum on October 10, 2016

NPS Photo/J. Wei

December 3, 2016 - 8:35 AM HST

Activity Summary: Eruptions continue at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit and East Rift Zone. The episode 61g lava flow in the East Rift Zone continues to enter the ocean at Kamokuna. In addition, breakouts from the episode 61g vent on the east flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō were active over the last day and advancing slowly east. These lava flows pose no threat to nearby communities at this time. The lava lake at Kīlauea’s summit continues to circulate, with periods of spattering occurring sporadically. There has been a net drop in lake level. Seismic activity continues at a low rate and deflationary tilt is ongoing.

Summit Observations: Over the past week, the average daily sulfur dioxide emission rate at the summit has ranged from about 2,300 to 5,000 metric tons/day. The summit continues to deflate at a consistent rate and has lost nearly 4 microradians since deflation started 2 days ago. Summit seismic activity remains low. The summit lava lake level and the amplitude of summit seismic tremor fluctuated as spattering in the lake waxed and waned, but there was a net drop in level in response to summit deflation.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: There were no obvious changes at Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Webcam views show persistent glow from sources within the crater and from a vent high on the northeast flank of the cone. The sulfur dioxide emission rate from all East Rift Zone vents was about 340 metric tons/day when last measured on November 30. Seismicity in the Puʻu ʻŌʻō area continues at low levels.

Lava Flow Observations: Recent breakouts from the episode 61g vent on the east flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō remain active and continue to feed lava downslope to the east, though with little advancement, based on webcam views. Lava also continued to travel through the main (original) branch of the episode 61g flow and enter the ocean at Kamokuna, where activity has been concentrated on the east side of the delta.

As a strong caution to visitors viewing the new ocean entry (location where lava meets the sea) for Flow 61G, there are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water. Also, the new land created is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea.

Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates an acidic plume laden with fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.

Please see these fact sheets for additional information: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2000/fs152-00/

 
Halema‘uma‘u viewed from Jaggar Museum on October 10, 2016 at 5:30 a.m.
Halema‘uma‘u viewed from Jaggar Museum on October 10, 2016 at 5:30 a.m.

NPS Photo/J. Wei

 

High lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u on October 15, 2016

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Duration:
49 seconds

With narration by Ranger Dean

 
 
 
 
county viewing area
November 23, 2016 - Lava continues to flow into the ocean at Kamokuna, as viewed from the Hawai‘i County Public Viewing Area on the Kalapana side, ouside of the park.

NPS Photo/J. Wei

 
Lava flow ocean entry plume viewed from Chain of Craters Road
September 19, 2016 - Lava flow ocean entry plume viewed from Chain of Craters Road at 1483 feet elevation

NPS Photo/J. Ferracane

 
Access to the lava flow ocean entry from Kalapana
October 24, 2016 - Access to the lava flow ocean entry viewing area from Kalapana

NPS/J. Wei

 
September 20, 2016 - Ocean entry viewing from the Kalapana side
September 20, 2016 - Ocean entry viewing from the Kalapana side

NPS Photo/J. Wei

 
Zooming in on the ocean entry at Kamokuna viewed from Kalapana side of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
Zooming in on the ocean entry at Kamokuna viewed from Kalapana side of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

NPS Photo/J. Ferracane

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Lava Flow Updates

  1. The 61G lava flow, southeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, continues to stream down the Pulama Pali onto the coastal plain of Kīlauea volcano's East Rift Zone into the ocean. The actual flow is moving slowly and many breakouts were active upslope and widening the flow field. Bright incandescence remains visible on the active lava flow field, marking areas of active breakouts.
  2. Park rangers have set up a Coastal Ranger Station (CRS) at the end of Chain of Creaters Road with eruption update, hiking and safety tip exhibits, and a monitor that plays a four-minute lava safety video. Visitors are strongly urged to stop and talk with rangers and review all signage and watch the video at the CRS. The CRS is staffed daily and in the evening during peak visitation hours. The park is open 24 hours a day.
 
Photo taken from the Kalapana side of the Kamokuna ocean entry, upwind of the toxic plume
Photo taken from the Kalapana side of the Kamokuna ocean entry, upwind of the toxic plume

NPS Photo/J. Ferracane

  1. Hiking out to the lava flow from the park is allowed, but it's not for everyone. From the CRS, it's a grueling, 7.4 mile roundtrip hike. Hikers may walk along the gravel emergency access route for the majority of the hike.
  2. All who attempt to hike out the lava flows are urged to prepare ahead and bring a 2-4 liters or quarts of water for every person in your party, sun protection, a hat and wear strong hiking boots or shoes. If you hike out later in the day, ensure you have a good flashlight and extra batteries in case you are out after dark. Cell phone flashlights are not sufficient. See the safe hiking tips for additional information on proper footwear, clothing, and other important safety information.
  3. Stay safe, and be very mindful of poor air quality. When plumes of hazardous volcanic gases (sulfur dioxide and hydrochloric acid) are blown along shore, they are a threat to your health. It is currently best to hike in from the County of Hawai'i lava viewing area on the Kalapana side to access the ocean entry. The Kalapana access is open daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. It's about a 4.2-mile hike from the Kalapana boundary to the ocean entry viewing point, one way, along the gravel emergency access road.
 
The presence of volcanic gas increases the closer you get to the ocean entry. This is where the lava crossed the Chain of Craters emergency access road, hiking in from the park side (USGS vehicle). Notice how the plume is blown right over the coastal area
The presence of volcanic gas increases the closer you get to the ocean entry. This is where the lava crossed the Chain of Craters emergency access road, hiking in from the park side (USGS vehicle). Notice how the plume is blown right over the coastal area and road

NPS Photo/J. Ferracane

  1. If you do hike in from the park side, be aware that the gases get stronger the closer you get to the ocean entry. Rangers have roped off the park side of the ocean entry and placed signs warning of the toxic fumes. Be aware that even in the open areas, volcanic gases are likely to be at unhealthy levels. Volcanic gases are a danger to everyone, particularly to people with heart or respiratory problems and infants, young children and pregnant women. Check with rangers at the end of Chain of Craters Road about current conditions before you head out, review the exhibits, and obey all closures and signs. You can head inland to avoid the fumes, and hike until you get upwind of the ocean entry fumes.
  2. Volcanoes are dynamic and ever-changing natural phenomena. The flow information, distances, and other lava information provided here can change at any time.
 
Respect Hawaiian Culture at Lava Flows
  1. Experienced bicyclists may use the gravel emergency access route during the day. It is not recommend to ride bikes on the loose gravel after dark. Motorized bicycles are prohibited.
  2. Respect the Hawaiian culture. Do not poke lava with sticks or other items. Do not roast marshmallows or cook foods. To many Hawaiians, molten lava is the kinolau, or body form, of volcano goddess Pele. In addition, it is a federal offense to remove, destroy, alter, deface, dig or disturb anything from its natural state in a national park. (36 CFR § 2.1)
  3. Pets, motorized vehicles, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and overnight camping on the flow field within the park are prohibited.
  4. Visitors are advised to "slow down and go with the flow." Hiking to the current lava flows is a 6-8 hour adventure for most fit hikers. Adding a roundtrip drive from the west side of Hawai'i Island makes for a very long day, and is not recommended. Remember: Kīlauea is also erupting from its summit crater, Halema'uma'u. You can safely and easily observe the summit eruption from the observation deck at Jaggar Museum, which is open 24 hours a day.
 
 
July 5, 2016 - Hawai‘i volcanoes National Park Press Release - Rangers Urge Park Visitors to View Latest Flows from Safe Distance
 

Please view this four minute video - "Plan for Safe Viewing of Lava Flows"

 
Coastal flow field
Coastal flow field

Courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of November 3 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of November 29 is shown in red. The new flow branch east of Puʻu ʻŌʻō started from a breakout at the episode 61g vent on November 21. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow lines (dashed where uncertain) show the mapped trace of lava tubes as determined from aerial thermal imaging and ground mapping.

The blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth's surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

Full resolution image (opens in new window)

 
September 20, 2016 - Ocean entry viewing from the Kalapana side
September 20, 2016 - Ocean entry viewing from the Kalapana side

NPS/J. Wei

July 3, 2016 - County of Hawai‘i Civil Defense Agency Press Release (pdf 110KB)
The County of Hawai‘i has opened the emergency road on the Kalapana side for lava viewing since Thursday, June 30, 2016, between the hours of 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm daily. This is outside Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and managed by the County. Please read the entire press release for more information.

Kalapana viewing area status (recorded message): 808-430-1966

Directions to Kalapana from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park: Take Hwy 11 towards Hilo to Hwy 130. Follow Hwy 130 until you reach the road's end and the visitor parking area. (45 miles).

 

HOT LINES for Eruption Information

Resources for more information about the lava flows:

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
by phone at: (808) 967-8862
by web at: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php

County of Hawai'i Civil Defense
by phone at: (808) 935-0031 (7:45 am - 4:30 pm)
by web at: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/

 

The lava lakes in the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater and Halemaʻumaʻu crater, as well as other views may be viewed on webcameras made available by the scientists at USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Daily updates by staff that monitor Hawaiʻi's volcanoes provide visitors with the most recent observations on volcanic conditions.

 

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 52
Hawaii National Park, HI 96718

Phone:

(808) 985-6000
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