(BIVN) – An August 9 expedition to map the active lava flow on the East Rift of Kilauea volcano produced new maps and uncovered an impressive lava tube.
While mapping the episode 61g flow margins, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists found an opening into an old lava tube system that has been partly filled with new lava. Most of the cooled lava cascades were intact and sitting on top of rubble from the caved-in roof of the abandoned tube.
The scientists reported the June 26 breakout (lighter-colored flow in the center of the photo below) is active on the coastal plain and at the flow front. “There’s been no significant advancement of the flow front since July 31,” USGS wrote on Wednesday. “Today, active breakouts were located roughly 1.5 km (0.9 mile) from the emergency route.”
The Kamokuna ocean entry remains active and the lava delta slowly growing. As of August 9, the delta was about 6.8 acres (2.8 hectares) in size.
Stability of the delta remains a concern. “Many coast-parallel cracks are visible,” scientists wrote after an overflight, “including a large crack near the center that spans the entire width of the delta. A few small streams of lava entering the ocean can be seen near the front of the delta.”
The large cracks highlight the unstable nature of the delta and the potential of its sudden collapse into the sea, USGS warns.
These lava flows pose no threat to nearby communities.
Scientists also produced a second map with a new look: A thermal map, constructed by “stitching many overlapping oblique thermal images collected by a handheld thermal camera during a helicopter overflight of the flow field,” USGS says.