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

January 16, 2017 - 7:16 AM HST

Activity Summary: Kīlauea Volcano continues to erupt at its summit and East Rift Zone. The 61g flow field remains active near Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and lava continues to enter the ocean at Kamokuna. These lava flows currently pose no threat to nearby communities. Early Sunday afternoon the lava lake surface in Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook vent was 50.5 m (166 ft) below the adjacent floor of Halemaʻumaʻu crater.

Summit Observations: Summit tiltmeters continue to record slow deflationary tilt. The lava lake level was 50.5 m (166 ft) below the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu crater early Sunday afternoon. Earthquake activity continues at low rates with tremor amplitude fluctuating in response to changing lava lake circulation, spattering, and possible rockfalls. During trade wind conditions on Sunday, sulfur dioxide emission rates ranged from about 1000 to 2100 metric tons/day. Slack trade winds have interfered with accurate measurements by the spectrometer array for much of the past week. NOTE: the Vog Measurement and Prediction Project web site is back online at http://weather.hawaii.edu/vmap/hysplit/bigisso2.cgi

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: Puʻu ʻŌʻō tiltmeters showed no significant change in the past 24 hours. Clear webcam images from Puʻu ʻŌʻō over the past day recorded persistent glow at long-established sources within the crater and from a vent high on the northeast flank of the cone. Seismicity remains unchanged. The sulfur dioxide emission rate from all East Rift Zone vents was about 270 metric tons/day when last measured in late December.

Lava Flow Observations: The episode 61g flow is still active and entering the ocean at Kamokuna. Following the New Year's eve collapse event, a new delta has not yet begun to form in earnest, possibly because of very steep offshore bathymetry. Active surface lava flows persist near Puʻu ʻŌʻō and are slowly moving east-southeast. As of January 12, this secondary branch was about 2.4 km or 1.5 mi from the vent . The episode 61g flows pose no threat to nearby communities at this time.

As a strong caution to visitors viewing the episode 61g flow ocean entry (where lava meets the sea), 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. In several instances, such collapses, once started, have also incorporated parts of the older sea cliff.

Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates a corrosive seawater plume laden with hydrochloric acid and 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/

For comprehensive information on volcanic air pollution please see the vog dashboard at: www.ivhhn.org/vog/

 
Evening glow from Halema‘uma‘u on January 8, 2017
January 8, 2017 - Evening glow from Halema‘uma‘u viewed from the Jaggar Museum observation deck

NPS/J. Wei

 
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

 

Kamokuna Ocean Entry on January 3, 2017

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Zoomed video of lava entering the ocean at Kamokuna viewed from the Kalapana side of the flow.

 

 

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

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With narration by Ranger Dean

 
 
 
 
Kamokuna ocean entry on January 3, 2017
January 3, 2017 - Lava continues to flow into the ocean at Kamokuna.

NPS Photo/J. Wei

 
Kamokuna lava viewing area
Kamokuna lava viewing area on the evening of December 21, 2016

NPS/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.
 
 
December 12, 2016 - Closure of a portion of Eruption Area
Until further notice a portion of the area near the coastal lava flow known as 61g and described below will be closed by direction of the park Superintendant. The closure is based on the potential for airborne debris being projected up to 300 meters from a collapsing lava bench. Flying debris is a safety concern for the public and employees. This closure will be in effect until there is no longer a danger.
Area to be closed: A 300 meter section within the boundary of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park that is marked with posted signs notifying the public of the closure, where possible will be augmented by a rope barrier. Due to the constant shifting of lava benches and ocean entries, this area is subject to change and is therefore only referred to by the current location of posted signs.
 
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"

 
Kamokuna ocean entry map
Kamokuna ocean entry map

Courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

This map of the coastline at the lava flow ocean entry at Kamokuna shows the areas of the lava delta and adjacent coastline that collapsed into the ocean on December 31, 2016. The collapsed areas are shown with an 'x' pattern and a blue background and are now part of the ocean. The shape of the eastern Kamokuna lava delta was revised based on satellite imagery acquired on December 25, 2016. The remaining sections of the lava delta, including the inactive western Kamokuna delta, are shown as a stippled pattern with a pink background. The active lava tube is shown with a yellow line and is dashed where its location is uncertain. The current ocean entry point, where lava cascades into the water, is located where the lava tube intersects the sea cliff. The NPS ropeline is shown as a dashed black line. The western extent of the ropeline was not mapped and is therefore not show; the eastern extent of the ropeline was moved on January 3, and has been approximated on this map between the emergency road and the coast. The dotted black line inland from the coast marks the location of the sea cliff before the Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption began in 1983. The background is a Digital Globe satellite image acquired January 9, 2016; the episode 61g lava flow is the partly transparent area that overlies the background image.

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.

 
Halema`uma`u vent - June 2, 2011 - web cam view
Webcam view of the lava lake within the summit vent in Halemaʻumaʻu on June  2, 2011.

USGS Webcamera

Links to More Information:

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Scientist's Daily Updates
Webcams
NPS Air Quality & Weather Page
Air Quality Monitors at hawaiiso2network.com
Earthquakes - Hawaiʻi
Earthquakes - Worldwide
Multimedia/Photos/Videos

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

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

Phone:

(808) 985-6000
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