Kilauea: the lower Puna eruption of 1955

Pele in lower Puna. 1955

In Hawaiian folklore, Pele is vengeful and unpredictable. Her habitation is well known: Kilauea leaves little doubt about where Pele lives. But you never know where she may appear next. She shares this habit with Kilauea. It has a clear summit and all the action stems from there. But where the action will be next is anyone’s guess. Over the years, as for a change she was immovably from the same location, this was forgotten about. But in recent weeks it has become abundantly clear again, as within days she went from a stable-looking dual-eruption site to draining these two completely and turning the magma on distant Puna.

It was always changeable. Below, a table of eruptions is reproduced, copied (with minor fixes) from of the Hawaii Centre for Volcanology. From 1790 to 1924 there was (perhaps intermittently) a lava lake at the summit. This drained in 1924 with a significant explosion. From 1924 to 1955 there were mainly brief summit eruptions. In 1955 the heavens opened on Puna, and since then most of the activity has been in the eastern rift zone, from 1983 almost continuously at Pu’u’O’o. Since 2008 there was activity both there and at the summit. But over the past years the flow rate from Pu’u’O’o had bene declining, and the lava more rarely reached the ocean. Mid April this year, a blockage developed at Pu’u’O’o and lave began to back up, first inflating the magma reservoir at Pu’u’O’o and later also at Kilauea. On April 30 the rift opened and magma began to flow into the rift. The Pu’u’O’o eruption was abruptly cut off. And on May 5, Puna was hit again, right in the middle of a new housing development that wasn’t there last time Pele came looking. One can argue whether it was a folly to build on a known rift. But in Hawaii, you take your chances. Even Hilo or Kona aren’t safe.

Kilauea historical eruptions. Edited from the Hawaii Centre for Volcanology
Year Date of Outbreak Duration (days) Location Volume
(cubic meters)
1750 (?) East rift 14,200,000
1790 (?) East rift 27,500,000
1790 November (?) Caldera No lava flow
1823 Feb-July Short Southwest rift 11,000,000
1832 Jan 14 Short East rim of caldera (?)
1840 May 30 26 East rift 205,000,000
1868 April 2 Short Kilauea Iki (?)
1868 April 2 (?) Short Southwest rift 183,000
1877 May 4 1 (?) Caldera wall (?)
1877 May 21 (?) Keanakakoi (?)
1884 Jan 22 1 East rift (?)
1885 March 80 (?) Caldera (?)
1894 Mar 21 6+ Caldera (?)
1894 July 7 4 (?) Caldera (?)
1918 Feb 23 14 Caldera 183,000
1919 Feb 7 294 Caldera 25,200,000 (?)
1919 Dec 21 221 Southwest rift 45,300,000
1921 Mar 18 7 Caldera 6,400,000
1922 May 28 2 Makaopuhi and Napau (?)
1923 Aug 25 (?) 1 East rift 73,000
1924 May 10 17 Caldera No lava
1924 July 19 11 Halemaumau 234,000
1927 July 7 13 Halemaumau 2,300,000
1929 Feb 20 2 Halemaumau 1,400,000
1929 July 25 4 Halemaumau 2,600,000
1930 Nov 19 19 Halemaumau 6,200,000
1931 Dec 23 14 Halemaumau 7,000,000
1934 Sept 6 33 Halemaumau 6,900,000
1952 June 27 136 Halemaumau 46,700,000
1954 May 31 3 Halemaumau and caldera 6,200,000
1955 Feb 28 88 East rift 87,600,000
1959 Nov 14 36 Kilauea Iki 37,200,000
1960 Jan 13 36 East rift 113,200,000
1961 Feb 24 1 Halemaumau 22,000
1961 Mar 3 22 Halemaumau 260,000
1961 July 10 7 Halemaumau 12,600,000
1961 Sept 22 3 East rift 2,200,000
1962 Dec 7 2 East rift 310,000
1963 Aug 21 2 East rift 800,000
1963 Oct 5 1 East rift 6,600,000
1965 Mar 5 10 East rift 16,800,000
1965 Dec 24 <1 East rift 850,000
1967 Nov 5 251 Halemaumau 80,300,000
1968 Aug 22 5 East rift 130,000
1968 Oct 7 15 East rift 6,600,000
1969 Feb 22 6 East rift 16,100,000
1969 May 24 867 East rift 176,700,000
1971 Aug 14 <1 Caldera 9,100,000
1971 Sept 24 5 Caldera and southwest rift 7,700,000
1972 Feb 4 455 East rift 119,600,000
1973 May 5 <1 East rift 1,200,000
1973 Nov 10 30 East rift 2,700,000
1973 Dec 12 203 East rift 28,700,000
1974 July 19 3 Caldera and east rift 6,600,000
1974 Sept 19 <1 Caldera 10,200,000
1974 Dec 31 <1 Southwest rift 14,300,000
1975 Nov 29 <1 Caldera 220,000
1977 Sept 13 18 East rift 32,900,000
1979 Nov 16 1 East rift 580,000
1982 Apr 30 19 hr Caldera 500,000
1982 Sept 25 <1 Caldera 3,000,000
1983 Jan 3 April 30, 2018 East rift
(Pu`u `O`o)
2018 May 5 on going East rift, Puna

One can argue that 1955 was the year of change. This was when Pele became bored with the summit and became infatuated with the eastern rift.

Kilauea has shown three basic eruption mode. The touristy one is that of minor but photogenic activity at the summit, as between 1790 and 1955. The awkward one is the rift eruptions, as have been the bane of Hawaii since 1955. And the dangerous one is explosions from the summit. Those appear to have happened in the 200 years or so before 1800, culminating in the disaster of 1790. That year, the summit exploded just as a group of people traveled past. The explosion was the result of a violent intrusion of groundwater. First, there was a thin deposit of wet ash in which the traveler left footprints. Next, the eruption column, which was seen from 90 km away, dropped small stones (lapilli) in it. Finally, the collapsing column, or perhaps a new eruption caused a pyroclastic flow of steam and ash, covering the area west of the summit, with many casualties. It is easy to overlook the explosive nature of the summit. This was the memory that gave Pele such a reputation.

Footprints in the ash of the 1790 eruption

But that was all forgotten, and in case, 1790 was before the occupiers came from the west. Puna, in the eastern rift zone had seen no activity since 1840. Apart from an explosive event in 1924, Kilauea had bene well behaved. Mark Twain may have written his famous depiction of Kilauea’s hell, but it was a hell fit for tourists. It was as if Kilauea had forgotten about it, just like the people had forgotten about Kilauea. The area had become a lush rain forest. This was many people’s idea of paradise. The tropical garden would grow anything that could see some soil. I have not had any sweeter pineapple than from this region. Hawaii was never a rich area and paradise can make for a harsh living, but living here must have made it seem worthwhile.

The summit had also gone to sleep. But after 18 years of quiescence, there was another summit eruption in 1952. The summit now began to inflate, in spite of a brief eruption in 1954. This was before Pu’u’O’o and the magma had nowhere to go.

What happened next is described in considerable detail in an article from USGS. To briefly summarise, small earthquakes began to be measures in Puna in the second half of 1954. There has also been earthquake activity at the summit, but nothing in between. That may seem strange, for how had the magma managed to get from the summit to Puna without disturbing the region in between? The best way to avoid earthquakes is to have the liquid already in situ, as flowing magma does not create earthquakes: that is the shattering of the rocks. In hindsight, the magma had been finding a way long before, perhaps during the 18-year hiatus. The reservoir that 30 years later was going to create Pu’u’O’o was already there.

The following video shows the severe health and safety procedures which were in place during the eruption.

In February 1955 the earthquake count rose, and in the morning of Feb 28, the first fissure opened up. This was east of where is now Leilani, and which was forest at the time. The first eruptions were not particularly vigorous, with fountains tens of meters high, but the fissures extended eastward. After some interruptions and new beginnings, the fissures reached Kapoho village. Now the fountains were over 150 meters tall. The lava spared the main town, but the road was cut on either side of the now isolated town. (Kapoho’s reprieve was temporary: the town was later lost in the eruption of 1960.)

The eruption paused on March 7. Now activity shifted westward, up-rift, where new fissures opened on what is now west of Leilani. The road here was attacked in images that look eerily similar to 2018. The eruption spread and became vigorous, with fast flows cutting the coastal roads.

The Kalapana road in 1955. Source: HVO/USGS

By April 8 the lava flows had ended, but there were still occasional outbreaks from spatter cones. In May, there were some new flows coming from Ilewa crater which did damage. On May 26, after 24 different vents had erupted with at least four major lava flows, activity abruptly ceased. It left a community shaken and farms and houses destroyed, but no lives were lost. It did change behaviours and beliefs: the number of food offerings made to Pele greatly increased during and after the eruption, although in a sign of cultural change, the traditional gifts of breadfruit, bananas, pork and tobacco were now often presented in Christmas wrappings.

The lava flows from the 24 vents of the 1955 eruption. Source: HVO/USGS

USGS mentions that the early 1955 lava was unusually differentiated, suggesting it had been in local storage for a considerable time. Kilauea only ever produces basalt, with MgO ranging from a low of 7% to a maximum of 20%. But the early 1955 magma had MgO as low as 5%, a sign of crystallization over time. Had it been in local storage since 1840, perhaps? This is similar to the current eruption which so far has pushed out old magma. The old material must have cooled considerably over time, but apparently was reheated by the new magma. The opening rift pushed out the old material, but also turned it back into eruptable magma. Perhaps this had begun in mid 1954, and as the old magma slow re-melted, it opened the rift. It must have been a slow process, and perhaps with modern instrumentation HVO could have seen it happening. Later in the eruption the new magma arrived from the summit, and this was also shown by the deflation at Kilauea. Whether the change in lava composition is because of mixing with the new magma, or because of stratification in the local storage, remains hotly disputed.

So Puna is not just a recipient of magma that is pushed down the rift. It has its own storage underground. Drilling at the Puna geothermal plant has even found dacitic magma, at a depth of 2.5 km, which had differentiated (and cooled) even longer. Kilauean magmas can only produce a few per cent dacitic magma, so by the time this has happened there is very little magma left. But there are things happening underground and Puna is far from passive. The eastern rift extends beyond the coast, and at times has erupted directly into the ocean. The lavas here show a range of compositions, also with evidence for storage in the rift zone.

How long had the magma been in storage? This has been studied with radioactive trace elements, thorium and radon. With surprising conclusions. The magma had not been left by the 1840 eruption. The minimum storage time was 550 years! And it may have been as long as 2500 years. It seems that the 1955 eruption was based on events that pre-dated even the Hawaiian’s occupation of the island. Pele had been waiting for them. The trigger came from the summit, but the ammunition had been made ready longe before.

Sp how about the current eruption? When it is sated to have pushed out 1955 lavas, which lavas do they mean? And why is this such a wimpy eruption compared to 60 years ago?

The lava that is pushed is likely a mixture, as that is what 1955 produced. Interesting is that the current eruption was focussed on Leilani, which is exactly the area skipped in 1955. In a way, this was the region where 1955 was never finished. But why is there so little vigour? It is a good thing for the local population, apart from those people who still have lost their homes, through no fault of their own. The Earth too does terror.

The difference with 1955 is up-rift. Pu’u’O’o has been providing the east rift zone with a safety valve for the past 30 years. The pressure in the rift never build up, and presumably it has only been in the past year or so that any flow-through to the eastern rift restarted. The current eruption is running on fumes. The Kilauea summit reservoir is replenishing the rift and adding new pressure, but whether this is enough remains to be seen. 2018 is not 1995. We have television, mobile phones, youtube – it is different world. And Kilauea has developed a safety habit. But now, whilst the world seems to be returning to intolerance, Kilauea may be changing. Puna perhaps is petering out – but Kilauea could be starting a new era of explosions. Time will tell.

Albert, May 2018

427 thoughts on “Kilauea: the lower Puna eruption of 1955

  1. Regarding the photo of Kilauea’s summit (thank you Squonk!), please can an expert educate me about the steam that appears to be rising from within the main crater away from the main plume of steam/ash, as well as from the cracks about the area?

    I can see some might be caused by dropped hot rocks, but I get the impression steaming is wide and I assume it is from the heated groundwater some way down?
    Thank you!

    • Clive,
      Many areas around Kilauea steam on a regular basis due to water coming into contact with hot rocks. There are areas away from the crater in the park that steam constantly, also in the Kilauea Iki crater (you can hike through it) which last erupted in 1959 still steams.

    • Explosive eruption immediately followed within minutes!

      This is a Civil Defense Message for Thursday, May 17 at 7 a.m.

      The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has advised of an explosive eruption at Kilauea summit that occurred at 4:17 a.m. This eruption is generating an ash plume as high as 25,000 feet. The resulting ash plume may affect the surrounding areas. The wind may carry the ash plume north towards Kau, Volcano, Mt. View, Kea’au and as far as Hilo. National Weather Service has issued an ashfall advisory until 12 p.m.

    • The first link – WOW!!!
      The second link – space bugs – send for Starship Troopers (Do you want to know more?)

    • I wonder what the mass of plasma in that flare is, because then you could put a VEI number on it 🙂
      Its probably way less than it looks (as in only a tiny fraction of the mass of a plane sized object) but surely it is still a huge number.
      I wonder what that flare on proxima centauri in march 2016 would be by comparison, it made the star visible to the naked eye for a few days and was enough to destroy its planets atmosphere (hence the chance of proxima centauri b being habitable is now considered extremely low).
      I used to think red dwarfs were like tiny versions of the sun, but they are actually really very different from the sun. They also have the strongest surface gravity of all normal stars, measured in hundreds of times the earths gravity, and are much denser than any solid material we know (proxima centauri is about 2.5 times denser than osmium). I wonder if they would actually have a hard surface that you could land on if you had a tungsten spacecraft or something like that. I have also realized that despite appearing red to us here on earth, even the coldest true stars like trappist-1 would still appear white if you actually looked at them, 2000 C is about the temperature of burning magnesium, so not red at all to the naked eye. Space is so full of things we think are extreme that maybe we actually live in an extreme environment 😉

      More on topic with volcanoes, there has apparently been a significant explosive eruption at the summit of kilauea, though I only heard this from livestream comments so I dont know if it is confirmed. At the moment there is so much rain (normal water rain) that fissure 17 is invisible…

      • Stars do not have a solid surface – or a solid interior, for that matter. Landing is not advised. Red dwarf stars tend to be more magnetically active than the sun: this has to do with internal convection. But the sun can do impressive flares too. The earth hasn’t been hit since a long time, but the last time a reasonable flare it us, it melted the electricity network in Canada. They are better protected now – we think.

        • I was more thinking of the star having a surface because of its extremely high density. I know the star is made of plasma, but you can compress a gas into a solid material despite it posessing the energy required to become a gas otherwise, and you can do the same thing to a plasma. Technically metals are like a plasma in that they conduct electricity, the only difference is that metal atoms are bonded together, so maybe red dwarfs would appear somewhat like a weird liquid metal if you could ignore the huge amount of light coming off it that close up. It seems strange to have something be that dense while still being a fluid material.

          • Tungsten floating on anything is a weird thought… It would be like watching videos of putting stuff on mercury and seeing a lot of really heavy things just bob around on the surface, only that there is literally nothing that exists in the environment we live in that would actually sink into proxima centauri… I wonder if the surface of a red dwarf would actually be a plasma at all given the temperature is not really that high. Maybe red dwarfs actually look a little bit like giant planets that glow brightly but have visible clouds of metal oxides or carbon.

            I have read that the element hassium, which is below osmium in the table, is predicted to have a density of 44 g/cm3 and possible longer lived isotopes, but I don’t think we will ever make something like that in real life. Maybe it gets created in neutron star collisions but decays too quickly and disappears before it can be physically observed anywhere?
            Actually speaking of neutron stars, they do have a solid surface and it has been measured based on the size of starquakes there to be the strongest material that exists in this universe, to move it 5 cm would take the amount of energy produced by the sun in 100,000 years…….

            Space is weird, and we probably haven’t discovered everything that is out there yet or even come close because sending stuff into space is more of a business than a scientific investigation at this point. I honestly still can’t understand why it costs half a billion dollars at the cheapest to send a car-sized object 200 km up. Military missiles can go way higher than that and cost only a fraction of that amount and are much smaller and don’t need a massive launch station and are basically mass produced… Even with the cost of the materials used in a satellite I don’t really know why they wouldn’t be much more expensive than a high priced car. Probably lots of tiny details in the fine print somewhere to convince the politicians… (I’m only really talking America there, I don’t know anything about European, Russian or Chinese launch costs but somehow I suspect it is a lot lower than in America). It really sucks that there are so many things we want to do but we have to put up with stupid decisions made by people who are going to be dead anyway by the time the earth starts fighting back. The last time the earth fought back was when the most successful dynasty of large terrestrial animals ever just got snuffed out like it was an accident, so I don’t think we want to be going down that route…

            Wow this comment went way off topic on something that was already off topic… Space, politics and a random point about dinosaurs, on a forum otherwise talking about volcanoes in Hawaii…

            I regret nothing 😎

    • “This is a Civil Defense Message for May 17 at 5:00AM. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports that an Explosive Eruption at Kilauea’s Summit has occurred. The resulting ash plume will cover the surrounding area. The wind will carry the plume toward the southeast. You should shelter in place if you are in the path of the ash plume. Driving conditions may be dangerous so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves.”

  2. To bad there is no para motor peeps with go pro in the area.

  3. Wow 30000ft!

    PSN: N1925 W15516


    SUMMIT ELEV: 4009 FT [1222 M]

    ADVISORY NR: 2018/036



    OBS VA DTG: 17/1515Z

    OBS VA CLD: SFC/FL100 N1938 W15513 – N1925 W15516 –
    N1925 W15517 – N1938 W15519 – N1938 W15513 MOV N
    5KT SFC/FL300 N1925 W15517 – N1925 W15514
    – N1923 W15514 – N1922 W15517 – N1925 W15517 MOV
    E 5-10KT

    FCST VA CLD +6HR: 17/2130Z SFC/FL100 N1937 W15522
    – N1926 W15516 – N1925 W15516 – N1934 W15527 –
    N1937 W15522 SFC/FL300 N1923 W15441 – N1922
    W15440 – N1919 W15442 – N1923 W15441 

    FCST VA CLD +12HR: 18/0330Z SFC/FL100 N1935
    W15528 – N1926 W15516 – N1926 W15517 – N1930
    W15530 – N1935 W15528 SFC/FL300 NO ASH EXP

    FCST VA CLD +18HR: 18/0930Z SFC/FL100 N1934
    W15529 – N1926 W15516 – N1925 W15517 – N1928
    W15532 – N1934 W15529 



  4. The fissure pointed to by the live cam: I don’t understand the mechanics of this fissure. How come there is always lava (with some explosions) at the left end and intermittent explosions in front of us. Seems both bits should act the same.

    • The cpntinuous lava fountain is the main vent now where most of the lava is coming out. The other vents seem to be mostly inactive but still degassing and when they get buried by lava the pressure builds up until it explodes. They might be steam assisted but given how long this has been going on now I doubt it is steam anymore. This is also very sticky magma for Hawaii, which is why it looks more like the lava on mt etna than the typical curtain of fire, the fluid stuff hasn’t erupted yet but is on its way and will probably erupt soon. When that happens it will probably erupt from all the vents and look more like an actual fountain.

  5. When an explosion occurs in the crater do shock waves propagate through the rift?

  6. Is this the first phreatomagmatic explosion Carl was anticipating for around Monday? If so, then the level drop at the summit is progressing pretty much as expected?

  7. The info coming from Kilauea seems to have come to a crawl, at least for me. This pic is from the Mauna Loa web cam:

    • Gives you an idea of just how small the summit events really are. A full-on eruptive column could easily pass that. Current echo tops for the thunderstorms in the area are around 40kft. (from NexRad data) {Note: Ash does not show up on NexRad unless a cloud becomes entrained into the column. Silica is transparent to RF.}

      • Good use of a tool that I would not have thought about.


  8. It looks like the cessation of harmonic tremor predicted the eruption almost perfectly, it occurred ~6 hours after?

    • Wow! That’s pretty impressive!

      I wonder what the power of this powerful eruption can tell about how further events may unfold…?

  9. Looks like it might have plugged its self back up again with the low tremor.

  10. Kīlauea Volcano, Summit
    Live Panorama of Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook Vent Wide Angle from HVO Observation Tower [KWcam]
    Last Updated 2018-05-17 08:01:10 (HST), 2018-05-17 19:01:10 (local)

  11. Something for Tomas model. M4.0 and 3.7 very shallow southeast Bardabunga..

    • Normal for Bardarbunga. This has been happening since the end of the eruption at regular intervals.

      Released from Bardy’s magma chamber(s) – Admin

      • Salting is referring to a North-South tick-tock in quake activity at the caldera rim fault, Tomas has been keeping a record of it to look for patterns.

        • Yes, I’m actually expecting something approaching or possibly exceeding M5 to happen at the north caldera rim. This is by looking at the cumulative seismic moment release and assuming that it continues with the same slope in the near future. At the moment the plot is “missing” just enough for an M5.

  12. Latest tilt and gps

    Electronic Tilt at Kīlauea Summit – Past 2 Days

    Global Positioning System – Kīlauea Summit

  13. Some impressive cracks in the road at Nohea Street in Leilani Estates this morning.

  14. Is it possible to spark a discussion here by asking: “What are the worst case scenarios for the current Kilauea eruption, and why won’t they happen?”

    • I want to know what happens if a plug forms, water table is breached and new magma is pushed up, then what?

    • Worst possible scenario is a combined repeat of the 1840 lower puna eruption and an associated caldera collapse leading to a 1790 sized explosive eruption.
      The 1840 eruption was kilaueas biggest flank eruption up until pu’u o’o, it was about the same size as the mauna ulu eruption but erupted in a month instead of 5 years… The lava flowed north into the ocean 16 km away over ground with almost no gradient and it did that in less than a day. The only other lava eruption in Hawaii that was significantly bigger (higher volume in the same amount of time) is mauna loas 1950 eruption.
      The 1790 eruption happened at the start of a sequence of eruptions that filled in the caldera to where it is now. The eruption was probably similar to the eruption at calbuco volcano in chile in 2015 but it could have been significantly bigger, it is rated as a VEI 4. Anywhere between 80 and 2000 (usually considered to be about 300) people died while walking south of the summit.
      A repeat of the 1790 explosion won’t happen now because that explosion was caused by a lot of new magma interacting with a lake that existed at the bottom of the caldera, at the very best the area in the overlook crater that us below the water table is a 100×100 meter area or something smaller so there is nowhere near the same scale of activity. An eruption in lower puna similar to the 1840 eruption is still completely within the current situation, although it is unlikely, and is a really huge hazard with the amount of people there. If that happens then there would be no chance of escape for anyone in leilani estates and outrunning the lava isn’t an option if you live downhill…

    • There is a word Paredolia, which is where people see patterns that can not be measured. (Well they can be measured but they are not necessarily real.) The most common of these is seeing faces in clouds or rock formation. Wicki says it is also hearing words in recordings. These are probably resolution errors, when the nyquist frequency happens.
      So we constantly look for patterns, which predict the future, our mortality or the mortality of society. So when we look for worst case we are looking at a glass filled to the 50% level.

      It is appropriate that one of the icons for this event is a chicken known as Rusty the Rooster since the sky is literally falling. Yet the sun still rises.

      In some ways the worst has already happened, that there is a feeling of ownership of data, which must be classified, lest it cause panic. This in turn leads to complaints of censorship. It may be funny, yet telling that the trolls are claiming police are confiscating cell phones, as it is affecting the Hawaiian tour industry and Cruse ships tours are being canceled.

      It does not help that the USGS exists to create maps for the military. These are called ordinance. In England it is literally called the ordinance survey. This means that such things are classified. Since we equate classified with top secret and need to know, it creates more confusion. Ironic that the same word also is used for other commissary items such as arms and ammunition. Codes and ciphers are also ordinance.

      I have been reading a book about a codebreaker name Elizebeth Friedman. _The woman who smashed codes._ one of my other interests is the so called Voynich Manuscript MS#408. Elizabeth could see patterns, without knowing the language, she spent a lifetime looking for patterns in MS#408. The book says her first job was for a charlatan called Fabyan who wanted to prove Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare and hid a binary code in the first folio. Elisebeth was unable to find any meaningful patterns in these book.

      WHere she did find patterns was in codes. Elizabeth cracked Enigma (In parallel to Turing) for the US coast guard and the Treasury department. Enigma was a commercial machine used by corporations in the 1920s and 1930 to keep business plans secret.

      There was a lot of competition between government departments. Hoover took credit for Elizebeth’s work. (after all she was a glorified clerk.) Her husband was the more famous codebreaker (He broke the Japanese equivalent of enigma code named Purple, without knowing the language.) Since they worked for different Agency’s of the government they worked independently, and could not share information.

      Many of the ideas of the Friedman’s and their co workers went into building the internet. They wanted to wite their memoirs as did Tiltman and Welchman, and were told no by their students it would make breaking future codes and communications networks more difficult.

      So we wind up with a department like the USGS, that has to classify everything lest it fall into the wrong hands should the worst happen and we enter another war.

      • Just curious, since you brought it up. Where you reference the military, do you mean “ordinance” or “ordnance?” There is a difference, which I was going to point out,
        but thought it might be better to let you clarify. (Sorry for OT.) Also, “cruse” is more correctly spelled cruise. As a geologist who knows people that work for the USGS (but I don’t personally), I did not waste time on the rest of your post.

        GL Edit; I did, but rather than redact it, I decided to let it stand for the entertainment value.

        GL continues;
        Ref Sheepdoll comment; “So we wind up with a department like the USGS, that has to classify everything lest it fall into the wrong hands should the worst happen and we enter another war.

        FALSE. The “classified” part of what you are talking about comes from Defense mapping organizations. USGS does not in itself, classify information. deals with geospatial data. About the only time I’ve run into classified geo data from them are in the higher resolution Digital Terrain data sets. The frustrating part is I know the data is there, but unless you are trying to drive a Tomahawk down the highway, it’s not really of much use to you.

        In short, if you are looking for someone to blame for lack of data, USGS is not your target. And is only concerned with military assets being harmed by the volcano. For that, VAACs cover the ash threat.

        Side note. I have 20 years of USN service under my belt. I have NEVER seen a document sourced by the USGS with any classification markings on it. And since my rating specialty was a “bastard child” of the intel community, our typical jobs at commands that we were assigned to was to work as to act as an ad-hoc specialists/analysts to keep the command advised of pertinent information that was sourced from that community.

        BTW, there is not a whole lot of information that the USGS deals with that is of any tactical significance… other than terrain data, and I’ve already pointed you towards the cognizant authority on that.

        Also, according to DTED level 0; DTED Level 0 was derived from NGA DTED Level 1 to support a federal agency requirement. It was then determined that DTED Level 0 could be made available (within copyright restrictions) to the public at no charge through the Internet.”

        • Learn something all the time, I googled both spellings so it must be ordnance. The other has to do with auto correct. I was always to abstract for spelling and never did well in the subject.

          I am not blaming anyone or anything. More I am pointing out how information get misinterpreted (As I see even the observation is misinterpreted.) I am not the one blaming the lack of live streams, the chatbots are.

          My interests are more esoteric, I have a love of certain time periods of history. The world according to Charles Dickens, And the Hollywood history of Rome. It is the perceived history rather than the actual history.

          This could be why academics never publish. Something could come along and disprove a life’s work.

          • Well, if you do science, and never publish. How do you get founds?
            Getting your work published in a respected scientific journals – that’s the whole point??

          • Given the number of papers in volcanology that I find are behind paywalls (and that is in spite of having access to university subscriptions), getting published must be more important to those scientists than being read. And that includes some of the older USGS papers. Scientific journals can be just as bad as classified intelligence.

            My recommendation: never ever pay for a scientific paper. You already paid for it when the research was funded. If it is really not available to read, assume it is not worth reading. When in doubt, email the author: they will often be more than happy to send you a copy.

  15. HVO is reporting activity at fissure 6. That is directly below PGV

    • That didn’t look like it went to 30K feet. it almost appears that soon after it erupted a thunderstorm moved over the location.

    A recent update on fissure 17.

    HVO have also visited the lava flow today and it has stopped advancing but is still active with small breakouts of viscous lava at the flow front and elsewhere around the flow. It seems like fissure 17 is building a cinder cone now too, so if pu’u o’o magma erupts from that spot it might not randomly flood out but be more directed towards the open side of the cone. In the HVO picture it still shows a fissure but Ikaika’s livestream shows more distinct vents so Im not sure if it is really changed or if it is just the perspective.

      • Yeah I think this is definitely new magma, it looks the same as when more significant lava was flowing from pu’u o’o, like in august 2011, except its just welling up out of a patch of forest. It honestly looks like a burst pipe.
        Its not really fast moving but that is probably because it is on a flat area. This flow should be moving south based on the topography where fissure 20 is, so not through leilani, although if it does flow south it will enter the ocean right through pohoiki so not really much better. If fissure 17 stays as the main vent then there will be very little damage except for cutting off hwy 137 and maybe destroying that house in the bottom left of the livestream, but anywhere else would be a problem. If this is new lava then it is probably only a very short matter of time before it gets into fissure 17 and things really speed up there. The livestream is going to be interesting tonight…

          • I think some of that really fluid magma is erupting at fissure 17 now too, theres a lot more little fountains and the main bigger one is looking more orange and liquid than before. I wonder what will happen when it gets to the flow front or if it will break out the side or override some of the older lava and make a new flow?

            I think you can tell it is new lava because it is building cinder/spatter cones at the main vent now.

          • Yes, that also looks very fluid now, it is able to escape from the vents a lot more easily.

  17. HVO are reporting a new fissure 21 has opened, between fissures 3 and 7. From that location, it does not sound like it is the same as shown in WXChasing’s video linked above. I’ve seen comments that there is pahoehoe flowing from this one.

    Fissures 18, 19 and 20 have also reactivated.

    That, combined with the more fluid lava seems to indicate that the eruption is starting to shift more towards fresher magma.

    • HVO have a picture of it on their site, It is close to the fissure that erupted the first lava flow.
      It is interesting that as newer magma has started erupting (not technically confirmed but its pretty obvious now) that the older fissures have started reactivating… The main vents might be east of leilani but I think the entire area between hwy 130 and hwy 132 will reactivate at some point now. i think HVO will be sampling this magma or have already done it and will bring back the results very soon. If fissure 21 is longer lasting then its lava will flow north east and into the clearing at the edge of the webcam so it will be really obvious tonight.
      There is a massive amount of magma under the area, probably over twice the amount that was involved in either 1960 or 1955, and now that it has found a way out its going to escape. It could either go fast and furious like 1960 or 1840, or it could go slower (more likely) and last for months or maybe even years… Neither is looking like a good outcome if your house is in leilani estates or anywhere downhill of that section of the rift. I guess it could just stop now but I dont think that really fixes the problem because all that magma is still there and will just erupt later on anyway.

      In the two hours between Ikaika’s last livestream at fissure 17 and the one that just ended by EpicLava, the fountaining had noticeably increased and there were tiny fountains to the right, so things are most certainly changing…

      It does bother me a bit that a lot of people in the live comments think that high tides make the eruption stronger. The tide will only have a tiny effect on the eruption and not enough to make it do something that wasn’t going to happen anyway.

      • The one I was thinking of is actually on Ikaika’s facebook page, not HVO images, but HVO will probably have some later in the day. Its looking pretty much like the 2011 fissures now with new fresh lava that flows quickly and stays as pahoehoe on flat ground. I’m guessing it will still turn into a’a if a bigger flow starts though and takes more of the supply, but that hasn’t happened anywhere yet. I think a flow is going to reach the ocean somewhere within the next week at this rate. My bet is on fissure 17 now that the lava is more fluid and so the flow will move faster or make a new flow.
        From about an hour ago.

        • The problem with that argument is that there are no lava tubes yet… Lava tubes only exist on the exposed surface flows, and they only usually stay continuous while the flow is still active s the rock remains plastic. Solid basalt is brittle so cracks form as the lava cools and the caves usually collapse very soon after draining out, there are some exceptions like kazamura cave that goes from near kilaueas summit and ends near the northeast puna coast, but that was also an unusually big tube and lava hasn’t flowed over that area since it formed about 500 years ago. If another flow goes down the same area it will tend to fill in any tubes that were there, and the pressure of the rock above will tend to make them collapse if they get preserved deep inside the volcano. If there were lava tubes and hollow caverns all through kilauea, then there would be lava tubes like that in all the old volcanoes on other islands, but there isn’t…
          I think some people are being mislead by watching the youtube streams and being exposed to the dark side of the internet (the ones who think this will be the next krakatoa or that Hawaii will slide into the ocean).

          Also the ocean does sometimes get into lava tubes at the edge of the water, and it creates littoral explosions and sometimes rootless spatter cones, but there is no way that the ocean is going to cause a steam explosion by backing up an active (over 1000 degrees C) lava tube and going into any of the vents unless one erupts basically on the beach at Cape Kumukahi (easternmost point on the island).

          • I was just looking at some pictures of lava tubes in Hawaii, it is just amazing, as soon as I have time I want to explore some more.

          • Ah, I live at the very bottom of Australia (like the very bottom) so I’m even further from Hawaii than you… There is a dormant volcanic field west of Melbourne though so one day… 😉

          • Noice another person here who lives on the continent where the middle of it is less habitable than some parts of Mars…


          • Newer volcanics province I’m presuming? I went there last year and mt napier is way bigger than you would think it is by looking at the wikipedia article. I think the actual cone is similar in size to pu’u o’o, 3 km wide and about 100 meters tall and steeper at the top. One of the lava flows went about 23 km and past the main road. I can imagine what it looked like during eruption was probably similar to fissure 17 now only a fair bit bigger.
            I think the eruption rate there is about 10,000 years on average but the two most recent eruptions were probably less than 50 years apart so the eruptions are pretty random, the only thing we know is there wont be one in the next week but that is about it. If one starts I’l be over there in an instant 🙂

          • Yes, the new volcanics area is quit impressive although rater eroded, obviously. It is also notable how fertile the area is, compared to the rest of Australia, and that is not unrelated to the volcanic activity.

          • Most of it is eroded, yes, but the more recent cones are still young enough to be really obvious. Tower hill is a really good one to see because you can literally drive right into it within 5 minutes of a town. I think it is late Pleistocene in age but the visitor center has information that one of the cinder cones inside is 7000 years old and much younger than the outer crater (caldera?). I dont know if that is true but I haven’t found anything about it at all so I dont really have any reason to think it isn’t true. Mt napier is a big scoria cone that looks similar to pu’u o’o, although it is a bit smaller I think and doesnt have a 250 meter wide crater, there is really no way to mistake what it is when you see it 🙂 Mt eccles is a scoria cone with a line of deep craters going northwest, there is a lava channel and flow from it that goes all the way down to bass straight about 50 km away (although it never reached any water as the sea was lower when that happened). When it was erupting I think it would have looked very similar to holuhraun, maybe not that big but it was definitely not a small eruption at all. Apparently there is evidence of there being at least two eruptions from here as well, based on radiocarbon dating, with the younger one being early holocene in age and the older one being about 40,000 years old. There are a lot more cones but they are mostly older and not as impressive.

            There is really no direct evidence at all, unsurprisingly given their age, but it is extremely likely that people actually saw these volcanoes form, which is really cool to think about. I think there is also a story from Queensland that records the eruption of kinrara volcano (part of the undara/mcbride volcanic complex) which was recently studied last year and found to be only 7000 years old, making it the youngest volcano in Australia with a confirmed eruption date (mt gambier is dated as between 4000 and 10,000 years old so it could be older).
            The mcbride volcanic field also apparently has erupted roughly every 10,000 years without any significant deviation from this number for about the past 5 million years, so there is a high chance that another volcano will form there in a few thousand years, and maybe produce 100+ km lava flows like some of its predecessors. Previously this area was considered largely extinct but it is in reality far from it and there will be many more eruptions there in the future. It is possibly driven by its own small or forming mantle plume, so maybe the area could see a small flood basalt province form in the future (maybe).

          • Mt Napier is a Shield volcano with a scoria cone perched on top. The lava flow you mentioned created some nice lava tubes on the SW base and continued on out to create the Tumuli near Byaduk as well.

        • I am on a ‘volcanic field’ halfway between Canberra and the coast

    • Yep, it wasn’t glowing this brightly at this time of day earlier, its a lot more orange. it also looks like there is only one main fountain now but its a lot more constant.
      There is definitely a lot of new lava erupting at the leilani fissure too, probably about as much as is erupting here only it isn’t going as high into the air.
      And a lava river from fissure 20…

  18. The livestream is really jumpy but the lava fountain at fissure 17 is WAY higher than it was before, probably at least 100 meters, and especially as it is glowing orange when it isn’t night time I think there is a lot of new magma erupting there now. Even only an hour ago it was only about as tall as the tree in front of it and now it is well over twice that high. 3 weeks ago I wouldn’t have believed anyone who told me that there would be a high fountaining vent in lower puna, maybe a long lava flow starting at pu’u o’o but nothing like this. I’m so annoyed that I’m not there right now… 🙂
    Fissure 20 is also making some serious lava flows too that have managed to flow into view from where they are so I think there will be a pretty big flow going down the mountain tonight and an ocean entry in a day or two. I dont know what is happening at the vent in leilani but I think its probably still going and has more than likely taken some houses with it. It should be really visible on the webcam tonight.

      • Wow, still no big flow though which I’m surprised by from seeing the videos before.

  19. Fissure 21 is getting brighter and brighter.
    I posted something about it already, but it may be in the dungeon. Let’s see if I am sent down to join it.

    • You did indeed have a spell in the spammy pit with the gnomes but I managed to rescue you before you succumbed to cookie poisoning.

      • Thank you.
        It was cold, dark and musty down there. No wonder the cookies were a bit stale.

        Will do my best not to go down there again.

  20. On the pgcam just now, anyone knows which fissure this is? Do seem to be able to paste the picture. It is lighting up the sky.

    • Sorry, already explained in the post above. Forgot to refresh the page.

  21. So, if the PGcam is showing fissure 21, that is right in the middle of leilani… that is bad news for the residents. I presume they where already evacuated?

    • Not hearing anything other than normal traffic on broadcastify. ODs, car accidents, etc. Mostly normal chatter.

      • And just heard a round of temperature reports on some of the metal plates DOT has over some of the road cracks. Most of them are around 80 deg. (Assuming F, this is LE in the US taking readings)

    • And fissure 17 is starting to build a nice cinder cone. Becoming well visible on the live stream now, just to the right of the vent

      • I noticed that too, I thought it was part of the tree until I saw lava pieces landing on it and it is clearly higher than the area around it.
        Probably about 20-30 meters tall now based on the size of the fountain being about 100 meters.

        • It looks like a channel is starting to form on the left side of the fountain too, where the lava flows downhill into the flow. I think the flow will probably surge during the night, either that or the new stuff will overflow and form a new flow. Fissure 17 is looking to be the main vent of this eruption so far, its the only one that has been continuously active for more than 2 days anyway. The lava fountain is huge too, none of the trees even come close now.
          I think fissure 21 might have stopped though, which is good news for the houses downhill from there. I think the lava from that vent got trapped on the uphill side of a bunch of spatter cones formed last week and it just built a small lava shield and perched pond before stopping about 2 hours ago.

  22. if there is a flow going, wouldn’t all the lava go to that, like an easy way to the coast hopefully

    • Well pretty much every line down slope of fissure 17 goes over mostly uninhabited areas, it might destroy a small park next to the sea but that is about it. This very new fountain could be really damaging though depending on which way it flows.

  23. WOW, fissure 21 is mostly dark but there is a huge fountain on the right side of the webcam, I think it could be in lanipuna at fissure 19 or maybe it is a new fissure 22. Probably a 100 meter tall fountain…

    (can someone with powers please edit the picture so that it only shows this particular image instead of updating)
    done as requested but not much visible on the right -admin

    • Things are really picking up now.
      Fissure 17 is building a cinder cone and a lava flow to the sea, fissure 16 and 20 are just flooding a low area with lava that is probably also going to the sea, a pretty huge new fountain appeared somewhere south of the geothermal plant about an hour ago, and fissure 21 in the middle of leilani is reactivating by the looks of the last webcam picture… There is a lot of magma under that area now, and I think this eruption will just keep going until it runs out, whenever that will be (if magma continues to feed into the rift zone the way it has been for the last 50 years then it could be a very long time…)

      Somehow I dont think people will be eager to move back into this area after all this is done, with how widely known this event is already I dont think anyone will ever forget that eruptions can happen in lower puna afterwards. Most people on the island weren’t around in 1960 so it is somewhat understandable that the danger was somewhat removed, but that is definitely not the case anymore…

      • The eruption comes to an end when deflation ends at Kilauea. 🙂 I think.

        You must have liked your last spell in the dungeon as you’ve been dumped in there again. Thou art released! – Admin

        • No the time the eruption ends is when the lower rift zone is deflated to the pre-eruption level, its like saying a dam wont burst if the river feeding it dries up, there is still water in the dam itself so it can still burst and flood. Not a perfect analogy but it is good enough. The amount of lava erupted so far is probably only a small fraction of the lava intruded under the area. This event was huge, much bigger than both 1955 and 1960 combined in terms of the deflation at the summit. All of the magma is still under an area that is on land, so all of that magma is beneath an active vent. all that the end of deflation would mean is that the supply of magma from under the summit would be much lower (but probably not entirely stopped). The magma stored in the rift zone is still there though so it will continue to erupt until that local equilibrium is reached, and in 1960 that took a pretty long time and included most of the actual eruption including the largest part.

          Point I’m making is that this eruption will far outlast the summit deflation…

  24. That lava pond looks like it is getting built up higher and higher. More and more of the surrounding vegetation gets burnt.

  25. Wow, we might be able to get out there in early July. For my own selfish reasons, I would like it to be still fountaining, but for the people that live out there and are dealing with this I hope it has finished by then.

  26. This stream is great. Amazing video quality. You can even see the lava flow moving in the bottom left.

    • It is such an amazing thing to watch. The main fountaining activity has moved around a bit, but it now seems to be quite stable. I’d estimate the fountain height to be about 150 meters, with some fragments probably being thrown to at least 200 meters.

      It will be really interesting to see how things have changed, once daylight returns.

    • Amazing plume that I believe is coming from fissure 17, fast moving flow, and more fissures down rift. Will be very interesting to see how far it has reached towards the coast

  27. klud is showing increased tremor starting at around 02:15 HST. I was guessing with the new less viscous lava moving under ground the signals would decrease. hmmmm.

  28. I would have expected to hear rusty the lava rooster by now, he must have been evacuated.

  29. I wonder if the fountain we are seeing in the stream are gonna reach kilauea iki levels durring this eruption.

  30. Anyone *not* watching the livestream really should be ….
    lava field forming on the ENE(?) (away from ocean) side with fabulous camera view.

  31. What I find amazing is just how resilient the trees are. There are some right in the lava flow that have survived for over half an hour so far.

    • Pine trees are native to the SE US. They have evolved to the point that lightning induced fire actually assists in the propagation of seed from the pine cones and the bark acts as a sort of insulation protecting the trunk.

      I imagine that the local trees there have developed a similar strategy.

  32. Does the rain on the lava flow create different minerals than when there is no rain? (Or am I totally confused. I’m finally getting around to learning a bit of chemistry and basic geology 🙂 )

    • It would likely lower the temperature more quickly where it strikes and cause a shift towards lower temperature species. Even though it’s magma, crystals take time to form. The longer the magma stays in the optimal range for a specific mineral, the greater the abundance of its formation.

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