Volcano Watch — Action aplenty this week at Kīlauea volcano eruption

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The past week has been eventful with many changes in the on-going eruption. The eruption stopped once again starting Thursday, April 14, in the afternoon, and lava had stopped entering the ocean by about 5 p.m.
 

The past week has been eventful with many changes in the on-going eruption. The eruption stopped once again starting Thursday, April 14, in the afternoon, and lava had stopped entering the ocean by about 5 p.m.

Unfortunately, since last week's article was written on Thursday morning due to another commitment on Friday, last week's update did not include these changes in activity. The pause in eruptive activity lasted until sometime last Saturday evening, when surface flows began from breaks in the tube system at about the 2,000-foot level.

Through Wednesday, April 20, there have been numerous surface flows along the slope, but all were located above Paliuli. By Wednesday evening, these flows had advanced to Paliuli and began to cascade over the pali near the middle of the flow field. By Thursday evening, the lava cascade over the pali had largely crusted over, and lava was ponding at the base of Paliuli and advancing slowly along the east side of a kipuka located between the Laeapuki and Kamoamoa parts of the flow field. Additional lava was ponding along the top of Paliuli to the east of the location where the new flow cascaded over Paliuli. If lava continues to pond in this area, it should form additional lava cascades over the eastern part of Paliuli within the next few days.

Lava had not reached the ocean as of Friday morning, but with the rate of advance, it should once again enter the ocean within a few days, probably before Sunday. The most active flow is presently headed towards the ocean on the west side of the Kamoamoa lava delta. The main lava viewing area set up by the National Park Service is in the middle of the Laeapuki flow and is located close to the projected entry point.

The lava pond inside the Pu'u 'O'o cone has risen during the last week and is now located about 260 feet below the low point on the rim of the cone. For the past several months, the level of the pond has been quite constant at 300-310 feet, so the change is quite large. The pond is spattering along its eastern side. In addition, on Tuesday, the lava flow inside the tube was quite sluggish compared to normal. There is an open skylight into the tube at about 2,400-foot elevation that provides a window to see the flow inside the tube.

Because the flows should once again be entering the ocean over the weekend, we urge visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park who want to watch this activity to obey the warning signs posted by the National Park Service and to keep a safe distance away. The entire area at the coast is extremely dangerous, and explosions and spattering of widely variable intensity occur without warning, as do collapses of the youngest lava ledge.

Viewing the surface flows has a separate set of hazards, including brush fires, methane explosions, fume, and heat. If you go to view the lava, be prepared by wearing sturdy shoes and long pants to protect yourself from the sharp lava. Take water and wear a hat, because the combination of strong sun and heat from new flows can quickly dehydrate you.

Obey all advisories from National Park Service personnel concerning fire danger, as fires can move quickly through the dry brush and grass near the coast. Methane explosions occur when the flows cover vegetation. The smoldering vegetation emits methane, which can accumulate and then explode from beneath, or adjacent to, the advancing flows. Lastly, avoid the black smoke produced by burning asphalt where lava flows cross the road.