(ABOVE VIDEO) Presentation by USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist Steven Brantley on Thursday night (Dec. 18) in Pahoa. Video by David Corrigan.
USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist Steven Brantley details the latest observations he and his team have made on the June 27 lava flow, and plots the most probable course through Pahoa Marketplace, over the Highway 130, and into the Hawaiian Shores / Hawaiian Beaches subdivision. Brantley said that there has not been a change in the eruptive behavior of Pu’u O’o, the source of the threatening flow, and noted breakouts upslope that could rob the flow of some of the material being transported to the front appear to have weakened.
Here is this week’s Volcano Watch article, written by the scientists of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. This week’s article is entitled HVO ushers in the New Year with “Volcano Awareness Month”
January is “Volcano Awareness Month.” That might seem odd, given that Island of Hawai‘i residents—especially those in the District of Puna—have been acutely aware of Kīlauea Volcano for at least the past four months, during which an active lava flow crossed a road, burned a farm shed and unoccupied house, inundated a cemetery, damaged orchards, and buried sections of private property. Today, the lava flow continues to threaten the community of Pāhoa.
Indeed, since Hawai‘i is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes—Kīlauea and Mauna Loa—the need for volcano awareness should not be limited to a single month.
But in 2010, Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi proclaimed January as “Volcano Awareness Month” as a way to promote the importance of understanding the volcanoes on which we live. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) selected January as the “official” month, largely because January 3 is the day that Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone (Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō) eruption began in 1983.
In addition to the 32nd anniversary of the ongoing East Rift Zone eruption, January 2015 marks the 55th anniversary of another notable Kīlauea lava flow that impacted the lower Puna District. The eruption began on January 13, 1960, and by the time it ended 36 days later, relentless lava flows had devastated Kapoho village and part of Koae village despite valiant efforts to divert the flows with bulldozed barriers. An account of this eruption is available at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/kilauea/history/1960Jan13/.
The new year also marks the 60th and 65th anniversaries of two other significant eruptions in Hawai‘i: the February 1955 Kīlauea East Rift Zone eruption, which was the first Kīlauea eruption to impact an inhabited area (lower Puna) in more than 100 years, and the June 1950 Mauna Loa Southwest Rift Zone eruption, which sent three lava flows across the highway south of Ho‘okena. The first of these Mauna Loa flows traveled from the vent to the ocean, a 24-km (15-mi) journey, in less than three hours, destroying the village of Pāhoehoe along the way.
These Kīlauea and Mauna Loa eruptions are just a few reminders of why it’s important to better understand how Hawaiian volcanoes work. Accordingly, HVO, in cooperation with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (UHH), and Hawai‘i County Civil Defense, is offering a series of volcano awareness presentations during the month of January.
Weekly “After Dark in the Park” programs in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will feature talks by HVO and UHH volcanologists on January 6, 13, 20, and 27. Topics include an update on Kīlauea Volcano’s ongoing eruptions, explosive versus effusive Kīlauea eruptions, the relationship between earthquakes and Mauna Loa eruptions, and how pāhoehoe lava flows work. Additional updates on Hawai‘i’s active volcanoes will be presented at UHH on January 7, in Ocean View on January 14, and in Kailua-Kona on January 28.
Details about these Volcano Awareness Month presentations, including dates, times, locations, and synopses, are posted on HVO’s website (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov). You can also email askHVO@usgs.gov or call (808) 967-8844 for more information. The talks are free and open to the public (National Park entrance fees may apply for the “After Dark in the Park” programs).
Awareness of Hawaiian volcanoes is possible throughout the year by visiting HVO’s website. Our webpages provide daily eruption updates for Kīlauea, including maps and photos of the lava flow’s advance toward Pāhoa, as well as status reports for Mauna Loa and other active volcanoes in Hawai‘i. Daily Kīlauea lava flow updates are also posted on the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense website (http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/).
If you’re seeking a more technical awareness, “Characteristics of Hawaiian Volcanoes,” written by current and former HVO staff and collaborators to commemorate HVO’s 100th anniversary in 2012, is now available online (http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1801/). This 10-chapter volume reviews HVO’s research history and presents our current understanding of Hawaiian volcanism, along with new data on eruption dynamics, hazards, and more.
We encourage you to check out the 2015 Volcano Awareness Month schedule—and hope that you will join us in January. It’s a great time to learn more about Hawaiian volcanoes and to meet some of the HVO scientists who study and monitor them.
Until then, we wish everyone safe and happy holidays.USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Nov. 12