Scientists with the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say there has been no explosive event since yesterday morning, but they do anticipate another one within the next few hours. The statement was made during an 11 a.m. press briefing on Wednesday, June 6, 2018.
HVO volcanologist Wendy Stovall said, “There’s a pattern that develops as activity ramps up to an explosion.” She said that today in the summit region, there has been small rockfalls, lots of earthquakes and small ash plumes. Larger ash plumes that have occurred over the course of the eruption have ranged between 8,000 and 15,000 feet tall.
The US Geological Survey has started a live stream of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at Kīlauea Volcano (provided below).
Down at the lava ocean entry point, Kapoho Bay is completely filled in. The lava has extended beyond the shoreline and is now at least 0.8 miles out from its original location before the ocean entry began.
According to Stovall, the ocean entry is to the south of the main lobe now. “All of Vacationland has been completely covered. There’s only a few beach lots that remain on the north side,” Stovall said during a morning press briefing in which she also reported expansion on the north side into the ocean.
Above: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) conducted a mission on Kīlauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone to collect video of flowing lava in the upper lava channel of fissure 8. Scientists use the video to assess lava flow velocities, which are measured by tracking surface features in the stationary video view. Using UAS for this type of investigation has many advantages because the aircraft can hover above hazardous areas and it utilizes stabilized gimbals and mounts so that the video captured by onboard HD cameras is steady and smooth. Information obtained from this mission was relayed to Hawai‘i County emergency officials to aid in issuing emergency alerts and notices about the timing of evacuations. Video by the U.S. Geological Survey and Office of Aviation Services, Department of the Interior, with support from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
When asked about the longevity of the event and the way employees are coping with the ongoing eruption, Stovall responded saying, “We want to be able to forecast things, but there is no certainty in our forecast.”
She said part of the process of coping with the event and living with a disaster in progress, is to take time off which she said is admittedly hard to do, “because we are so invested.” HVO officials noted that counseling is available to all employees at anytime.
According to officials with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Fissure 8 remains active. Some overflows and breakouts reportedly occurred yesterday around the Puna Geothermal Venture facility.
“It is possible that blockages in channel could occur. Right now, its a pretty wide open stream,” said Stovall, noting that some lava ‘islands’ had formed in the molten river. HVO officials say fissure fountain heights have decreased, but they are not rushing to interpret that as a change in flux of lava in system. “We know there is still lava flowing through the system and making ocean entry,” Stovall said.
The flow that entered Kapoho Bay was described by HVO volcanologists as ‘A’ā (defined by the USGS as a Hawaiian term for lava flows that have a rough rubbly surface composed of broken lava blocks called clinkers).
“Lava that was entering the bay is ‘A’ā, and the way that it travels is it rolls over itself,” said Stovall, saying it is often likened to a tread of a bulldozer. “There’s a rubbly top that breaks off and falls forward and lava moves forward as the top moves off… That is the way that ‘A’ā moves. It will just break down and consume anything in its path.”
She described the height of the flow itself saying the flow front as it made its way to Kapoho Bay probably had an undulating height that was “certainly taller than one person, or a person sitting on top of another’s shoulders.”
HVO geologists said the lava flow is thicker at the source near Fissure 8, and about 3-4 meters (9-13 feet) at the ocean entry point.
After attending a morning briefing at the Emergency Operations Center, Jessica Ferracane, the Public Information Officer for Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, reported no new developments at the park, but said she experienced three “sizeable” earthquakes. “It’s a beautiful blue day, but it seems eerie up there. There’s lots of ash, and the earthquakes are making things seem unsettled.”
Juhn Bravender, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said the forecast is calling for a bit of a change over the next few days as an upper level trough moves over the state. According to Bravender, there is a potential for rain showers on Thursday and Friday with the wind changing directions from a South West to a South Easterly flow, which could spread ash towards areas like Pāhoa and upslope or inland. He said the change in weather will be short-lived with trades expected to fill back in on Saturday.
Above: Today’s Video Update of summit activity on Kīlauea by Jessica Ball, USGS Volcanologist, as of 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 6, 2018