Eruption continues as lava claims 2 more houses

  • Aerial view of Kapoho Crater looking toward the south-southeast. Part of the lava channel became blocked just upstream of Kapoho Crater yesterday, diverting flows to the west and then south around the crater (center right). Lava exiting a crusted section of the channel continued flowing in the channel pathway (lower center to left). (U.S. Geological Survey/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • Fissure 8 and a full lava channel as seen during HVO's Tuesday morning overflight. The visible road is Nohea Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision. Steam generated from heated rain water rose from the tephra deposits and lava flows surrounding fissure 8. (U.S. Geological Survey/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Fissure 8 continues to erupt lava steadily into the perched channel leading northeastward from the vent to the Puna coastline, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, only one house is left standing in Kapoho Beach Lots after two were destroyed by lava between Monday and Tuesday morning, according to authorities.

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Janet Snyder, Mayor Harry Kim’s spokeswoman, said it was revealed in the morning briefing of emergency personnel at county Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo, a house in another area along Puna’s lower East Rift Zone may be also endangered by a brush fire set by the lava. She didn’t know where, specifically, that house is. Houses west of the Kapoho cone may also be threatened, Snyder said.

The official count of homes destroyed by lava during the current eruption, which began May 3, remains at 700. The actual tally is higher, but the count isn’t updated until overflight photos showing homes taken are officially reconciled with county tax maps.

Disruptions to the mid-channel occurred Monday afternoon producing localized overflows along the margins of the flowfield. A significant overflow north of the cinder quarry advancing Monday toward Cinder Road has stalled, scientists said. An overflow lobe moving around the west side of Kapoho Cone remains active Tuesday morning and small brush fires are reported along the margins.

The channel disruption and overflows were caused by blockages that developed along the channel. Additional blockages and resulting overflows are likely to occur as long as the activity continues, scientists said.

Downstream, scientists said, lava appears to be reoccupying the channel leading to the ocean entry were multiple fingers of lava are active. The southern margin of the ocean entry shows little sign of movement.

Fissure 22 continues to exhibit weak spattering. No other fissures are active.

Pele’s hair and other lightweight volcanic glass fragments from the lava fountain at Fissure 8 continue to fall downwind of the fissure, dusting the ground within a few hundred yards of the vent. High winds may waft lighter particles to greater distances. Residents are urged to minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation similar to volcanic ash.

Volcanic gas emissions remain very high and magma continues to be supplied to the lower East Rift Zone. Continuing trade wind conditions are expected to bring vog to the southern and western parts of Hawaii Island.

At the Kilauea volcano summit, seismicity has been increasing as has been the pattern leading up to a collapse/explosion event. Monday’s event was at 9:20 a.m. and had the energy equivalent to a magnitude-5.3 earthquake. Inward slumping of the rim and walls of Halemaʻumaʻu continues in response to the ongoing subsidence at the summit.

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Sulfur dioxide emissions from the volcano’s summit are very low.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald contributed to this report.