Tag Archives: Kilauea

Kilauea lava

Lava fountains flare up alongside the rim of the active vent in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano.
The walls of the crater illuminated by the lava.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Mother Earth.’ See more offerings here.

The Big Island is home to Madame Pele, who in Hawaiian culture is the goddess of volcanoes. She is the creator of new land as well as a destroyer. These photos were taken on April 24, 2018. (An account of that visit, and more photos, can be found here.) On May 1, the lava in the lake began to drop. Within a week, it had dropped more than 700 feet and continued falling. Lava had also disappeared from Pu’u O’o, the other active vent on Kilauea.

The drop in lava levels was due to magma in the system moving down the east rift zone of the volcano where it emerged in a series of vents in Leilani Estates, a housing subdivision in the southeast part of the island. This new eruption lasted until late August, 2018, since when the volcano has been quiet.

While there has been no visible activity, below ground, magma has been moving through the system, notably into Kilauea’s summit chamber. It’s surely only a matter of time before Madame Pele makes her presence known again on one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

The early morning light shows the crater and land around Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. This is a scene that no longer exists. Since this photo was taken, not only is the vent no longer active, but the crater floor has collapsed numerous times and the walls have also subsided in places.

Colorful pahoehoe lava

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Art Unexpected.’ See more responses here.

This was a timely topic since, a couple of days ago, I went for a hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I headed out on the Puna Coast Trail, one of several longer trails west of Chain of Craters Road, that I haven’t explored before. (I’ll do a post about the trail once I’ve gone through the way-too-many photos I took that day!)

One of the highlights of the trail was the extensive areas of colorful pahoehoe lava. I’ve lived here a while now and I know lava doesn’t just come in basic black. I’ve seen lighter and darker flows; I’ve seen flows with a brown tint; I’ve seen flows with hints of red or green in them. But prior to this hike, I had never seen flows with such a variety of vibrant colors.

Instant Hawaii has a description of different types of lava (here) and they say “All the differences in pahoehoe flows stems completely from the temperature of the lava as well as chemical composition. Since both can change during a flow – it is possible to get all types of pahoehoe flowing from a single flow, over time.” I would also say that, what they call ‘quiet flow’ lava, is an apt description of these areas. When I was walking over them I thought they seemed harder and more metallic than the surrounding black pahoehoe lava, which tends to crunch a bit when walked on.

But the other thing I thought, as I found myself continually stopping, stooping, snapping photos, was that these flows were art, Madame Pele’s art, and that wasn’t something I was expecting when I set out on the hike.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Pohoiki beach

The Big Island’s newest black sand beach, at Pohoiki, was formed during last year’s eruption of Kilauea Volcano. Soon after its formation, offerings appeared at the beach and coconuts were planted.

For coconut planting, all that’s required is to plunk an unhusked coconut on the beach and wait. The coconut will sprout, as in these photos, but it can still be moved after it has sprouted as its roots are mostly fairly shallow. It’s tolerant of salinity, but likes regular rainfall, both of which are features of this location.

In several years, this somewhat stark black sand beach will become another scenic palm-lined tropical beach. That’s assuming the volcano doesn’t send another flow in this direction, in which case it might look more like the background of the bottom two photos.

Firehose of lava

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Dramatic.’ See more responses here.

I’ve opted for a dip into the archives for this challenge. Two years ago, lava from Kilauea Volcano’s Pu’u O’o vent reached the ocean, tumbling down a cliff into the water. One day, the cliff collapsed, leaving the lava shooting out of a hole high up in the new cliff. This was called the firehose of lava because that’s what it looked like.

I first learned about it when I saw a video of the lava firehose on one of the news channels. What impressed me was that it was really hard to to see that it was a video. The flow was so strong and so consistent that it looked like a photograph. It was only by looking closely at the edges of the firehose that I could make out spatters of moving lava.

I headed down to the volcano, to take at look at this phenomenon, the day after I saw the video and was duly impressed by the dramatic scene. It was well worth the trip and well worth my quick visit. The following day another cliff collapse moved the firehose back and out of sight from the observation areas.

These are two photos from that visit. More photos can be seen in previous posts here, here, here, and here.

Fissure 8

This time last year, the newest eruption of Kilauea Volcano was still going strong in the Puna district of the Big Island. The previously active vents, in Halemaumau Crater and at Pu’u O’o, drained of lava at the end of April. Lava then moved underground, down the east rift zone, toward the southeast tip of the island. It resurfaced in May in Leilani Estates.

By the end of May, 24 fissures had discharged lava. Two of those sent flows down to the coast, but at the end of May the main eruption settled on Fissure 8. A river of lava flowed northeast, inundating Highway 132 and reaching the ocean at Kapoho Bay in early June. This flow continued into August, but by the end of that month all activity had more or less ceased. In all, more than 700 homes were destroyed during the eruption, but more than 800 acres of new land had been formed.

These photos show Fissure 8, the source of the main flow. The top photo shows Fissure 8’s location, bordered by houses in Leilani Estates that escaped destruction during the eruption. To the right, the main crater and the ‘canal’ that channeled the flow toward the coast. Below, another view of Fissure 8 and the wasteland of destruction surrounding it.

PBS’s NOVA put out a show about the eruption earlier this year with some great information about what was actually going on during the eruption. It might be accessible on their site, PBS.org, or search online for the title of the show: PBS Nova Kīlauea: Hawaiʻi on Fire.

Kilauea Iki Trail

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Paths.’ (See more offerings here.)

Kilauea Iki Trail is one of the more popular trails in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. But last year’s volcanic activity, with numerous earthquakes, resulted in the park being closed for several months. Even after it reopened in September 2018, many parts of the park remained closed because the areas were too unstable to be opened to the public.

The Kilauea Iki Trail was one of those areas along with Thurston Lava Tube and Jaggar Museum. The latter two locations are still closed and Jagger Museum may never be reopened, but the Kilauea Iki Trail is currently listed as mostly open. Given that this is a loop trail, it would be wise to check ahead and find out what ‘mostly open’ means.

These photos were taken during a hike I took a couple of years back. The top photo shows the view from the part of the trail that follows the rim of the crater before it descends to the crater floor. Top left, shows two hikers heading out across the crater floor. The dark hill in the background is Pu‘u Pua‘i where a 1959 eruption poured lava out into the crater. Bottom left shows hikers near the center of the crater where the path winds through broken areas of the crater floor. Below, cairns mark the trail across a flat area of the crater that leads to the switchback trail which takes hikers back up to the crater rim.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Green Lake

Green Lake was, until June 2 last year, Hawaii’s biggest freshwater lake. This isn’t a dramatic claim since freshwater lakes are in short supply in Hawaii. There are only two freshwater lakes on the Big Island, the other being Lake Waiau, near the summit of Mauna Kea. Green Lake had a surface area of about 2 acres and was no more than 20 feet deep in the center, but it was a popular spot with both locals and tourists who liked to swim and picnic there.

The lava flow from last year’s eruption in lower Puna at first curled around the pu’u, the center of which was Green Lake. But on June 2, the flow breeched the surrounds, boiled away the water and filled it with lava.

The top photo shows that pu’u that contained Green lake, now filled with lava. The bottom photo shows Green Lake in relation to the flow and the area around it. The lava came from the upper left of the photo. It flowed around the pu’u and entered the lake from the southeast. The photo also shows how the flow reached the coast. The area in the top right of the photo used to be Kapoho Bay and its surrounding housing. A white speck is visible on the edge of this flow, which is one of only three houses there that survived the flow’s destructive progress.

At the bottom of the lower photo is untouched land, including a road that runs into, and now terminates, at the flow’s edge.

Halema’uma’u Crater

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Danger.’ (See more offerings here.) It seemed a suitable opportunity to post some photos reviewing on Kilauea Volcano’s last eruption, which began in May of last year.

The bottom photo, taken from the Jaggar Museum overlook, shows the scene on the morning of April 25, 2018. Lava in the active vent in Halema’uma’u Crater, at Kilauea’s summit, was just below the crater floor and had been overflowing into the crater in previous days. The overflow is the large dark area to the right of the glowing lava.

By early May, the lava level in the vent had dropped around 1,000 feet. This drop occurred at the same time that lava disappeared from Pu’u O’o vent. Not long afterwards, cracks opened in the ground at Leilani Estates, a housing subdivision in the southeastern part of the island. By the end of May, 24 fissures had opened in the area. The most prolific lava flow emanated from Fissure 8, which flowed to the ocean and created more than 800 acres of new land. However, more than 700 homes were destroyed by this eruption.

Meanwhile, back at the summit, the absence of lava in the vent in Halema’uma’u Crater resulted in a series of collapses of the crater floor. Each collapse triggered earthquakes and shot clouds of ash and toxic gas thousands of feet into the air.

The top photo shows Halema’uma’u Crater as it looks today. The crater is twice the size it was the year before and the floor, which was mostly flat, is now a huge cascading pit. In the upper left of the photo, the Jaggar Museum, where I stood to take the bottom photo, can just be seen. It was heavily damaged by the earthquakes, as were the parking lot and access road. It’s also much closer to the crater edge than it was. (Technically the crater edge is closer to it, since the museum hasn’t moved!)

The museum, along with the rest of the park, closed in May 2018, because of the eruption. While much of the rest of the park reopened in September, Jaggar Museum did not. There’s a good possibility it never will and that its fate will be the same as the portion of Crater Rim Drive in the photo to the right. A significant length of that road, which used to encircle the whole summit caldera, was destroyed, including the section in the photo which slid, intact, into the crater.

Things have settled down since September 2018 and there has been no volcanic activity anywhere on the island since then. But Kilauea remains an active volcano and will undoubtedly erupt again. It’s just that no one knows exactly when or where that will happen.