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Friday, September 30, 2022
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Kilauea Produces Unstable Lava Delta; Additional Lava Outbreaks Possible

The eruption of lava from Kilauea continues from the lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) in Leilani Estates with little change relative to the past few days.

Fissure 8 lava fountains reached heights of 200 ft in the afternoon, and the cinder and spatter cone that is building around the fissure is now about 160 ft at its highest point. Lava is flowing through the well-established channel from fissure 8 to the ocean at Kapoho. Occasionally, lava spills over the channel levees. The ocean entry remained fairly broad with laze blown onshore. Fissures 16 and 18 continue to ooze lava.

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 meters (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.

USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory field crews are on site tracking the fountains, lava flows, and spattering from Fissure 8 as conditions allow and are reporting information to Hawaii County Civil Defense. Observations are also collected on a daily basis from cracks in the area of Highway 130; no changes in temperature, crack width, or gas emissions have been noted for several days.

Volcanic gas emissions remain very high from Fissure 8 eruptions. Wind conditions are changing and may bring VOG to the central, south, and western parts of the Island of Hawaii.

The ocean entry is a hazardous area. Venturing too close to an ocean entry on land or the ocean exposes you to flying debris from sudden explosive interaction between lava and water. Also, the lava delta is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf, causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea. Additionally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates “laze,” a corrosive seawater plume laden with hydrochloric acid and fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.

Magma continues to be supplied to the lower East Rift Zone. Seismicity remains relatively low in the area with numerous small magnitude earthquakes and low amplitude background tremor. Higher amplitude tremor is occasionally being recorded on seismic stations close to the ocean entry.

Additional ground cracking and outbreaks of lava in the area of the active fissures are possible. Residents downslope of the region of fissures should heed all Hawaii County Civil Defense messages and warnings.

Read updates at USGS

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