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Posts Tagged ‘Halema`uma`u’

Heightened Activity at Kilauea Volcano

Posted by feww on March 7, 2011

New Fissure at  Kilauea Spews Lava 25m into the Air

Sunday, March 6, 2011 6:34 PM HST (Monday, March 7, 2011 04:34 UTC)

19.42°N 155.29°W, Summit Elevation 4,091 ft (1,247 m)
Volcano Alert Level: WARNING
Aviation Color Code: RED

HVO said: “A fissure that opened on Kilauea’s east rift zone after yesterday’s collapse of the Pu’u ‘O’o crater floor continues to erupt lava. Activity along the fissure was sporadic overnight and throughout today, with periods of quiet punctuated by episodes of lava spattering up to 25 m (80 ft) high.”

Fire Earth: A new fissure at Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii spatters lava

A close-up of spattering fissure. Credit: HVO. Click image to enlarge.

View looking at the NE end of the actively propagating fissure. Lava is just breaking the surface in foreground crack.  Credit: HVO. Click image to enlarge.

Ash cloud rising from Pu`u `Ō `ō as crater floor collapses [5 March 2011]

Ash cloud rising from Pu`u `Ō `ō as crater floor collapses due to magma withdrawal. Incandescent rubble can be seen crumbling and rolling down the scarp. The east rim of Pu`u `Ō `ō is in the foreground. Credit: HVO

Several video clips showing wall and rim collapses of Halema`uma`u

There was a series of vent wall and rim collapses on March 3, much like those than occurred in January and February. This video, compiled from the Webcam on the rim of Halema`uma`u above the vent, is one of the larger collapses, and shows the northwest rim of the vent falling into the lava lake. Credit: HVO. Click image to view the video clip.

Click image to view a clip captured by a video camera on the rim of Halema`uma`u to the southwest of the vent, showing a small chunk of the western rim of the vent collapsing into the lava lake.  Credit: HVO.

Archive image of lava from a previous eruption at Kilauea Volcano.  Credit: HVO

Source: [ Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection]

Map showing the extent of the “July 2007 eruption”, or Episode 58, flow field relative to surrounding communities. Reddish-brown is the active flow as mapped on January 13, 2011, while bright red shows the advancement of the flow from January 13-February 4. Light red represents older flows erupted during Episode 58 of the ongoing East Rift Zone eruption. Episode 58 started in July 2007. Flows erupted during 1983-2007 are shown in more muted colors and labeled with the years in which they were active. Click image to enlarge. Credit: HVO

Map showing the extent of the active flows. Reddish-brown is the flow as mapped on February 4, 2011, while bright red shows the advancement of the flow from January 13-February 4. Small ocean entries remains active at the front of both the western and eastern branches of the flow. Light red represents older flows erupted during Episode 58 of the ongoing East Rift Zone eruption. Episode 58 started in July 2007. Lava erupted while Kupaianaha was active from 1986-1992 (Episode 48) is shown in light yellow. Click image to enlarge. Credit: HVO

The Big Island, Hawaii

The Island of Hawaiʻi (the Big Island or Hawaiʻi Island) is a volcanic island With an area of 4,028 square miles (10,432 km²), it is the largest island in the United States and larger than all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined.

The Island of Hawaiʻi is built from five separate shield volcanoes that erupted somewhat sequentially, one overlapping the other. These are (from oldest to youngest):

  • Kohala (dormant),
  • Mauna Kea (dormant),
  • Hualālai (dormant),
  • Mauna Loa (active, partly within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park), and
  • Kīlauea (very active; part of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park).

This simulated true-color image of the island of Hawai’i was derived from data gathered by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper plus (ETM+) on the Landsat 7 satellite between 1999 and 2001. Image: NASA/NOAA

The lava fountain on shield 3 (12-15 m high). USGS Archive image.

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New Zealand’s Mount Ruapehu crater lake has heated up to 40ºC, reported to be the lake’s third-highest temperature rise in 10 years.

HVO Links:

Kīlauea Update | Mauna Loa Status | Deformation | Maps | Webcams | Images | Movies

Kīlauea Summit

Halema`uma`u, Kīlauea Volcano
Halema`uma`u from HVO
Halema`uma`u from Overlook, Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii
Halema`uma`u from Overlook
Kīlauea East Rift Zone

Pu`u `Ō `ō, Kīlauea Volcano
Pu`u `Ō `ō
Thanksgiving Eve Breakout From Pu`u `Ō `ō
Thanksgiving Eve Breakout From Pu`u `Ō `ō
Napau Crater, Kīlauea Volcano
Napau Crater
Mauna Loa Summit

Mokuawe`owe`o, Mauna Loa Summit Caldera
Mokuawe`owe`o, Mauna Loa Summit Caldera

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Hawaii’s Kilauea Billows 2,500 MT of SO2

Posted by feww on December 2, 2009

Kilauea’s Halemaumau crater billows up to 2,500 metric tons of sulfur dioxide each day

The vog (volcanic fog) billowed out from Kilauea contains large quantities of sulfur dioxide which is killing crops in the Big Island.

With stagnant winds present, Halema`uma`u plume stands straight up, showing off the distant, but bright, full moon [Photo Date: November 13, 2008 ]. Photo Credit: M. Poland; Source: USGS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared Hawaii County a natural disaster area, which means the farmers there could apply for low interest loans from the federal government,  a report said.

However, it’s not known what the farmers are meant to do with the money, or how they would pay it back, since there’s no agreement with Kilauea concerning the  SO2 emissions!

In reality these loans should be “relocation grants” to allow the farmers leave the Big Island (in a hurry). As of December 2009, the only indication is that there would more SO2 billowing out of Kilauea in the coming weeks, month and possibly years. That situation could change, of course, but the farmers shouldn’t put too much hope in that.

“We can wash our trucks in the morning and in the afternoon you rub your hand across the top of the truck and it feels like sand paper,” said Phil Becker who, together with his wife, own  Aikane Plantation Coffee Company on the southern part of Big Island.

The Beckers previously grew and sold protea, however, vog has destroyed their plants.

“We’ve only got about three plants left after about 181 is what we started with and we’ve only got three that are trying to survive. It’s also impacted our cattle as far as the grass not recovering the way it usually does,” Phil Becker was reported as saying.

These days the Beckers are focusing their efforts on growing coffee … and even that is suffering. This year’s crop is about a third the size of a normal crop.

Not only So2 reacts with moisture in the air to give extremely corrosive sulfurous acid, which covers the leaves and stalks of plants, killing them, the deadly gas molecules also block the sun as they permeate the stratosphere and prevent needed sunshine from reaching the crops.

Kilauea Status Reports, Updates, and Information Releases

Aerial view of Pu`u `Ō `ō and vicinity

July 21 Eruption Near-view Map: November 25, 2009

Map showing the July 21, 2007 eruption flow field. The Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) flow is currently active and is that portion of the July 21, 2007 eruption flow field that extends south from the TEB vent to the ocean. Light red is the area of the flow as of November 7, 2009, while the bright red shows the flow field expansion that occurred between November 7 and November 25. Source of Image and Caption: HVO

HVO DAILY UPDATE Tuesday, December 1, 2009 7:47 AM HST (Tuesday, December 1, 2009 17:47 UTC)

Coordinates: 19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W
Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH

Activity Summary for past 24 hours: Kilauea continued to erupt from two vents. At the summit, a lava pond was visible for several hours before draining and crusting over. Sulfur dioxide emission rates from the Halema`uma`u and east rift zone vents remain elevated. From the east rift zone vent, lava flows through tubes to the coast and is entering the ocean at several locations west of Kalapana.

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Posted in hawaii volcanoes, particulate matter, SO2, stratosphere, vog | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Volcanoes affect life on earth

Posted by feww on November 21, 2009

Volcano Watch: Acting locally causes effects globally

(Volcano Watch is a weekly article written by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, HVO.)

A visit to Kilauea can bring a sense of awe and appreciation for the earth’s volcanoes. Over the past weeks, the east rift eruption has produced multiple ocean entries, and photogenic surface flows, which have touched off fiery infernos in the rare remaining kipuka (island of vegetation).

Lava from Kilauea enters the ocean.

The flows came uncomfortably close to the tourist trail that has carried tens of thousands of admiring visitors, and engulfed and destroyed a lone structure. Not to be outdone, the Halemaumau Overlook vent has offered glimpses of a rising and falling lava pond, as well as a landscape of molten, shifting holes opening into a deep cavity within the vent.

In contrast, living downwind of Kilauea’s copious gas emissions, or in the path of lava flows, can bring an exclamation of “auwe” (“oh dear!” or “Alas!”). Since the onset of summit activity in 2008, impacts from Kilauea have increased.

Hawaii County was declared a federal natural disaster area owing to agricultural losses, and air quality in downwind communities frequently exceeded federal and state standards.

While Kilauea does contribute modest amounts of gasses to the atmosphere, most impacts are local to Hawaii. We might count ourselves lucky because growing evidence suggests that very large volcanic eruptions have extreme effects on the global environment.

For example, massive volcanic activity around 60-70 million years ago occurred on the Deccan Plateau in what is now west-central India. This activity, which produced the Deccan Traps (from the Swedish word for stairs, Trappa, which refers to the feature’s step-like landscape), is one of the largest known eruptions to occur since the Earth’s initial formation.

Kilauea – Active Lava Tube. Source: USGS

There are distinct similarities between Kilauea and the Deccan Traps. While Kilauea is being created by the Hawaii hot spot, the Deccan Traps were likely a product of the Reunion hot spot.

The eruptive style of both can be characterized by multiple volcanic events separated by relatively short repose periods. They produce basaltic lava and have flow units with pahoehoe toes as the basic building block.

In fact, scientists have studied Kilauea’s active volcanism as an analog for processes that would have created the Deccan Traps.

During the 0.5 million years or so since Kilauea first began growing from the floor of the ocean, 540 square miles have been covered by lava, or about 1/7 the area of Hawaii Island. The Deccan Traps currently cover 190,000 square miles, an area somewhat greater than that of California.

During its peak, which likely lasted less than 1 million years, the eruption rate of the Deccan Traps was at least 15 times that of Kilauea’s current eruption rate, or at least 25 times that of Kilauea’s more modest lifetime eruption rate.

The timing of the Deccan Traps is intriguing, with the peak in activity occurring at around 65 million years ago.

Movie buffs and dinosaur fans might recall the tagline for the 1993 movie Jurassic Park: “An Adventure 65 Million Years in the Making,” referring to the timing of the transition between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods. Known as the K-T boundary, it was characterized by mass extinction of species, including the non-avian dinosaurs.

There is strong evidence that the impact of a large asteroid or comet contributed to this mass extinction due to the presence of enriched iridium in the fossil record at the K-T boundary. Iridium is an element that is much less abundant in the earth’s crust than in meteorites, and, thus, likely originated from space.

The Chicxulub impact crater on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, has been identified as a likely candidate for a K-T impact event.

However, growing evidence suggests that volcanic activity from the Deccan Traps was a significant contributor to the mass extinction event. Recent studies examining the fossil record were able to correlate an abrupt change at the K-T boundary in species of tiny sea creatures known as foraminifera, with the main eruptive pulse in the Deccan Traps.

Volcanoes great and small can affect life on earth, from contributing to the extinction of dinosaurs to impacting Kilauea’s neighbors.


19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH

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VolcanoWatch Weekly [16 September 2009]

Posted by feww on September 17, 2009

VOW: Krakatoa [Krakatau]

Krakatoa is a volcanic island in the Sunda Strait located between Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. Both the volcano and island group share the same name.

Four enormous explosions almost entirely destroyed Krakatoa island on August 27, 1883. The violent explosions were reportedly heard in Perth, Western Australia,  some 3,500 km away. It was heard even on the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, about 4,800 km away.

The shockwave from the last explosion, which ejected volcanic matter 80 km into the atmosphere, echoed around the planet seven times.

An 1888 lithograph of the 1883 violent explosion of Krakatoa.

The eruption ejected about 21 cubic kilometers of volcanic matter and completely destroyed two-thirds of the Krakatoa island.

island map
The Island Map (Simkin and Fiske, 1983). Image may be subject to copyright.

Anak Krakatau (the Child of Krakatau)  is the only active vent left from Krakatoa. u is  This volcano has built itself slowly from the sea floor since the paroxysmal eruption of 1883.  Anak Krakatau is located between the northern two vents, Danan and Perboewatan, that were destroyed in the 1883 eruption.  For the most part, the eruptions are Vulcanian, slowly building the island with a combination of lava, ash, and pumice.

location map
Krakatoa: Location Map. Source of the original map: USGS

Krakatoa: An early 19th Century image.

Early in the morning of May 20, 1883, the captain of the German warship Elizabeth reported seeing an ~11-km-high cloud of ash and dust rising above the uninhabited island of Krakatau, thus documenting the first eruption from this Indonesian island in at least two centuries. Over the ensuing two months, crews on commercial vessels and sightseers on charted ships would experience similar spectacles, all of which were associated with explosive noises and churning clouds of black to incandescent ash and pumice. From a distance, the largest of these natural fanfares impressed the local inhabitants on the coastal plains of Java and Sumatra, creating a near-festive environment. Little did they realize, however, that these awe-inspiring displays were only a prelude to one of the largest eruptions in historic times. A series of cataclysmic explosions began at mid-day on August 26, and ended on August 27 with a stupendous paroxysmal eruption. On this day, the northern two-thirds of the island collapsed beneath the sea, generating a series of devastating pyroclastic flows and immense tsunamis that ravaged adjacent coastlines. The events that began on August 26 would mark the last 24 hours on earth for over 36,000 people [possibly as many as 120,000,] and the destruction of hundreds of coastal villages and towns. —Geology-/SDSU [Spelling mistakes corrected by FEWW.]

ashcroft -riv thames
William Ashcroft painting “On the Banks of the River Thames” in London, November 26, 1883 [Exactly three months after Krakatoa’s cataclysmic 1883 eruption.]

The Krakatoa eruption affected the climate driving the weather patterns wild for the next 5 years. Average global temperatures fell by about 1.2 °C in the following years, returning to normal only in 1888.

landsat PP1
Krakatoa Image by Landsat Pathfinder Project (Dated May 18, 1992)

Anak Krakatau’s most recent eruptive episode began in 1994, with near continuous Strombolian eruptions, punctuated by larger explosions.  In its most recent eruption, which began in April 2008, the volcano released hot gases, rocks, and lava. Scientists monitoring the volcano have warned people to stay out of a 3 km zone around the island. By and large, the eruptions are Vulcanian, helping to slowly build the island with ash, lava and pumice at an average rate of about 60 cm per month.

Fearing an imminent eruption, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia raised Anak’s  eruption alert level to Orange on May 6, 2009.

SI /USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report
(9 September – 15 September 2009)

New activity/unrest:

News From GVP:

  • PHIVOLCS reported that 11 earthquakes from Mayon were detected during 14-15 September. On 15 September, three ash explosions produced a brownish plume that rose no more than 700 m above the crater and drifted SW.
  • On 11 September, KVERT reported strong explosions from Shiveluch. Based on interpretations of seismic data, ash plumes rose to an altitude greater than 15 km (49,200 ft) a.s.l. The seismic network then detected eight minutes of pyroclastic flows from the lava dome; resulting plumes rose to an altitude of approximately 10 km (32,800 ft) a.s.l. —GVP


A bathymetric map prepared during a NOAA Vents Program November 2008 expedition shows two submarine volcanoes, Tafu (Tongan for “source of fire”) and Maka (Tongan for “rock”). The volcanoes lie along a NE-SW-trending ridge on the southern part of the back-arc NE Lau Spreading Center (NELSC). The November 2008 expedition discovered submarine hydrothermal plumes consistent with very recent (days to weeks?) submarine lava effusion from Maka volcano.  Image courtesy of NOAA Vents Program, 2008. Caption: GVP.

Ongoing Activity:


Wednesday, September 16, 2009 8:30 AM HST (Wednesday, September 16, 2009 18:30 UTC)

19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH

Activity Summary for past 24 hours: The third DI event in a week started yesterday morning and switched to DI inflation overnight. Moderate glow was visible after dark from the Halema`uma`u Overlook vent (summit). Sulfur dioxide emission rates from the Halema`uma`u and east rift zone vents remain elevated. Lava from the TEB vent (east rift zone) flows through tubes to the ocean and feeds surface flows.

Past 24 hours at Kilauea summit:
Glow was visible from the Halema`uma`u Overlook vent overnight. This morning, trade winds are blowing the plume, denser than yesterday morning, to the southwest over the Ka`u Desert. The most recent sulfur dioxide emission rate measurement was 900 tonnes/day on September 11, which is well above the 2003-2007 average of 140 tonnes/day. Very small amounts of ash-sized rock dust waft up from the vent and are deposited nearby on the crater rim.

halema uma u
This Quicktime movie shows two active vents on the floor of the Halema`uma`u cavity. Lava is just below the rim of the two vents, creating frequent spattering which falls around their rims. Within the larger of the two (on the right), lava can be seen vigorously sloshing. For scale, these vents are about 10 yards wide. The first half of the movie is shown in normal mode, with the second half shown in ‘nightshot’ mode.

The summit tiltmeter network recorded the third DI event in a week with deflation just before 8 am yesterday and inflation just after midnight last night. The GPS network, which is less sensitive than the tiltmeter network, recorded less than 2 cm of contraction over the last 3 months with brief periods of extension coinciding with strong DI inflation on September 1-2 and 11-12; they recorded contraction since 9/13.

Seismic tremor levels remain elevated; two weak hybrid earthquakes followed by 15-20 minutes of sustained tremor were recorded starting around 7:30 pm last night. The number of RB2S2BL earthquakes continued to increase slightly but remained below background levels. Six earthquakes were recorded beneath Kilauea – three beneath the summit caldera, two deep quakes below the lower southwest rift zone, and one on south flank faults. —HVO

  • Videos and Images are available at: HVO

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Kilauea Volcano Continues to Discharge Lava

Posted by feww on July 15, 2008

Kilauea Status Reports, Updates, and Information Releases

Monday, July 14, 2008 07:48 HST (Monday, July 14, 2008 17:48 UTC)

19.42°N 155.29°W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

The lava fountain on shield 3 (12-15 m high). USGS

Activity Summary for last 24 hours: Kilauea summit and Pu`u `O`o cone continued to deflate. Unusually small amounts of ash and elevated amounts of sulfur dioxide gas continued to issue from the Halema`uma`u vent. At the east rift eruption site, incandescence was observed from vents within Pu`u `O`o Crater; lava flows from the TEB vent flows through tubes to ocean at Waikupanaha; surface flows within the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision may have reached the coastal plain.

More …

Photograph by C. Heliker on September 19, 1984

Lava fountain 450 m high bursts from Pu`u `O`o in September 1984. In the foreground, low fountains play above a fissure that opened just before the main vent began to erupt. After the high fountains relieved some of the pressure on the magmatic system, the fissure activity died.

Summary of the Pu`u `O`o-Kupaianaha Eruption, 1983-present

The Pu`u `O`o-Kupaianaha eruption of Kilauea, now in its twenty-fourth year and 55th eruptive episode, ranks as the most voluminous outpouring of lava on the volcano’s east rift zone in the past five centuries. By January 2007, 3.1 cubic km of lava had covered 117 km2 and added 201 hectares to Kilauea’s southern shore. In the process, lava flows destroyed 189 structures and resurfaced 14 km of highway with as much as 35 m of lava.

Beginning in 1983, a series of short-lived lava fountains built the massive cinder-and-spatter cone of Pu`u` O`o. In 1986, the eruption migrated 3 km down the east rift zone to build a broad shield, Kupaianaha, which fed lava to the coast for the next 5.5 years.

When the eruption shifted back to Pu`u `O`o in 1992, flank-vent eruptions formed a shield banked against the west side of the cone. From 1992 to 2007, nearly continuous effusion from these vents has sent lava flows to the ocean, mainly inside the national park. Flank vent activity undermined the west and south sides of the cone, resulting in the collapse of the west flank in January 1997.

Since 1997, the eruption has continued from a series of flank vents on the west and south sides of the Pu`u `O`o cone. During this time the composite flow field has expanded westward, and tube-fed pahoehoe forms a plain that spans 15.6 km at the coast.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō ( pronounced roughly “poo-oo oh-oh”) is a cinder/spatter cone in the eastern rift zone of the Kīlauea volcano of the Hawaiian Islands. USGS.

Aerial view of lava lake in Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater. The crater is about 250 m in diameter. 30 August 1990. Credit: J.D. Griggs – USGS/HVO

1983-1986, The rise of Pu`u `O`o: episodic lava fountains build massive cone. USGS

Lava moves across the ground as a pahoehoe flow, Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i – Photograph by J.D. Griggs on 13 November 1985 – USGS

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. May 1954 eruption of Kilauea Volcano. Halemaumau fountains. Photo by J.P. Eaton, May 31, 1954. USGS

This report on the status of Kilauea volcanic activity, in addition to maps, photos, and webcam images (available using the menu bar above), was prepared by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park status can be found at or 985-6000. Hawai`i County Viewing Area status can be found at or 961-8093.

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