Naming of Fissure 8 put on hold; board to decide how to proceed as pandemic thwarts public meetings

  • This photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows lava fountaining at Fissure 8 near Pahoa on June 5, 2018. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

The naming of the most prominent new geographical feature to emerge from the 2018 Kilauea eruption has been postponed indefinitely.

The state Board of Geographic Names has been soliciting community input on potential names for Fissure 8, the most productive of the dozens of volcanic vents that opened in Lower Puna during the 2018 eruption, since the beginning of 2019.

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However, a final decision on the fissure’s name has been postponed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We were all ready to hold a public meeting in March, but COVID happened and we couldn’t,” said Marques Marzan, chairman of the board.

The plan had been to hold one final public meeting in Puna discuss the board’s preferred names out of the 21 community submissions received throughout 2019. With the pandemic making public meetings imprudent for the time being, Marzan said he is unsure when the meeting can be held.

Marzan said the board itself has not held any meetings since March, but may hold one in July. At that meeting, he said, the board will likely determine how to proceed with the community meeting in Puna.

“There have been a bunch of issues about virtual meeting points in the past,” Marzan said. “But now that people are more comfortable with Zoom calls and the like, that might be an option now.”

Of the 21 names submitted to the board, a permitted interaction group formed by the board identified in 2019 four that were worthy of greater consideration than others, because they were submitted by people with strong cultural ties to the area.

Those names included: “Pohaka‘ena,” which means “exploding rage”; “Ke Ahi Ena‘ena,” meaning “raging fire”; “Ahu‘aila‘au,” which refers to an altar to the volcano deity ‘Aila‘au; and “Keahiluawalu O Pele,” which originated in a dream, the submitter claimed.

The remaining 17 names will still be considered by the board, and include:

• Puu Leilani (named for the subdivision, Leilani Estates, where the fissure is located).

• Pu‘uo‘aila‘au (Hill of ‘Aila‘au).

• Pu‘u Kupaianaha (Pu‘u = hill; Kupaianaha = surprising, strange, wonderful, marvelous).

• Pu‘u ‘O Luku (hill of destruction).

• Hanaia‘na (creation).

• Enoho (regeneration).

• Hou Ho‘omaka (new beginnings).

• Keahilapalapa (spreading or blazing fire).Kekoheho‘ohenonohoikala‘iopunapaia‘alaikahala (cherished crease occupying the calm of Puna of the forest bower fragrant with pandanus).

• Luana-Lani (named after Luana Street in Leilani Estates).

• Papalauahi (earth of numerous volcanic eruptions; proposed name for all 24 fissures).

• Pohaha (a reduplicative of paha, which can mean breaking forth, bursting, cracking and volcanic ejecta of any kind).

• Hopena (fate or destiny).

• Pu‘ O‘oo‘o or Pu‘u O‘o O‘o (references to fellow cinder cone Pu‘u ‘O‘o, which was formed in 1983 and named after its proximity to a letter “O” on a map).

• Pu‘u Wa Kahiko (an eternity from past to present).

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• ‘Omakaolahoukaluaokalani (source of the rebirth of the second heaven).

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.