Kīlauea volcano is one of the five volcanoes on Hawaii, the Big Island of Hawaii. Eruptions have been happening there for hundreds of years. The eruption in 2018 has been very serious and long-lasting. My heart goes out to the people of Puna.
Timeline for Kīlauea volcano eruption
April 21 -27, 2018 the lava lake at Halema’uma’u overflowed
April 30 Pu’u ‘Ō’ō crater, down rift from the summit of Kīlauea volcano (about 12 miles), collapsed and drained of lava. Pu’u ‘Ō’ō was an active source of eruptions since 1983.
Over 20 fissures opened in lower Puna producing lava, SO2 gas, and Pele’s tears, about 25 miles from the summit. Earthquakes occur daily at the summit, resulting in up to 3 plume explosions per day. Homes in Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens and other areas destroyed. About 500 people living in shelters. The Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park closes. Animals were left behind in the rush to evacuate. Along with pets, cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens were left in inaccessible areas.
- May 3 Cracks, fissures, gases, and lava begin to erupt in the Lower East Rift Zone in Leilani Estates south of Pahoa. The fissures extended for 4 miles.
- May 4, 2018 Halema’uma’u crater at the summit of Kīlauea volcano had a major collapse producing an ash plume with a magnitude 6.9 earthquake.
- May 10 lava lake at summit disappears
- May 11, 2018 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closes.
- May 20 Fissures 16 through 20 make fountains that produce a lava flow that reaches the ocean.
- May 21 Fissure 22 produces a lava fountain 160 feet tall.
- May 23 Methane gas emerges from cracks in the ground. Vegetation buried by lava produces gas that makes a blue flame.
- May 25 Fissure 8 (Ewalu) reactivates works up to fountaining over 200 feet in the air. Lava flow becomes a channelized river.
Fissure 8 (Ewalu) continued to produce over 7 million gallons of lava per hour, pouring through a channelized river to Kapoho. New land continued to be produced. Gas emissions go up to 40,000 tonnes of SO2 per day. Lava in the river was flowing at 9 m/s. Earthquakes at the summit were in cycles of about 30 hours, about 700 earthquakes in each cycle.
- June 2 Lava enters Green Lake and boils away the 500 year old lake.
- June 4, 2018 The river of lava from Fissure 8 traveled 8 miles, covered Kapoho and began building new land in Kapoho Bay. Homes destroyed rises to close to 700.
- USGS HVO video of ocean entry at Kapoho
- June 24 Rescue of farm animals by helicopter begins
Fissure 8 continued to pump lava through the channelized river to Kapoho. The SO2 gas produced is about 20,000 tons per day. 50 to 100 cubic meters of lava per second from the 180-foot tall cone at Fissure 8 (USGS 07.10.18) 800,000 to 1.6 million gallons per minute. Over 760 acres of new land has been added to the island.
The earthquakes at the summit fall into a pattern with hundreds of earthquakes during day building up to a large magnitude 5+ quake happening every 21 – 35 hours. The summit collapse produces small ash plumes. About 2 hours after the large quake, a surge of lava happens at Fissure 8. About 250 people living in shelters. The National Park continues to be closed. Tiny homes at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pahoa open for evacuees.
- July 11, 2018 The lava river changed course and inundated Kalea destroying the warm ponds at Ahalanui State Park, beloved Kua O Ka La school, and Secrets surf spot.
- July 17, 2018 A lava tour boat was in the Kalea ocean entry vicinity when a lava bomb hit the boat. 23 people were injured, one quite seriously. A hydrovolcanic explosion can occur when ‘a‘ā lava suddenly comes in contact with seawater under the surface.
- July 28, 2018 An outbreak of lava from the channelized flow near Halekamahina started a brush fire that burned several homes and buildings.
As the month began, Fissure 8 was still pumping lava in a pattern that included pulses and a surge about an hour after summit collapse. The surge would reach the ocean entry about 12 hours later. USGS calculates the flow to be about 0.5 cubic kilometers (1.32 x 1011 gallons or 1.32 hundred billion gallons). The Kīlauea summit area was experiencing 600 to 900 earthquakes per day. A large magnitude 5+ earthquake with summit collapse would occur approximately every 40 hours. 155 people living in shelters with more living in tents. 840 acres of new land formed and 13.4 square miles covered with lava. Lava had spread to the Po’hoiki area (Isaac Hale State Park), very close to the boat ramp.
- August 2, 2018 Day 91 A collapse event at the summit was a 5.4 magnitude earthquake at 11:55 Hawaii Standard Time.
- August 4, 2018 Day 93 The lava river appeared crusted over and the lava within Fissure 8 dropped down to where it was only occasionally flowing out of the cone. The ocean entry was still active.
- August 17, 2018 The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory lowered the Alert level from Warning to Watch. “no signs of imminent hazardous activity are present at this time”
- August 21, 2018 Ocean entries of lava cease.
Terms and hazards
Laze, SO2, vog, littoral explosion, lava boat (wa’a), ʻaʻā, pāhoehoe, magma, lava, Pele’s hair, ash plume, lava bombs, methane flames, tephra, reticulite, olivine crystals, tumulus
Lava boat (wa’a) video from Ikaika Marzo
- USGS Volcano Hazards Program Glossary
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Kahuku Unit is open (Highway 11, mile marker 70.5, Ka’ū). Ranger talks continue at Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo and Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Jaggar Museum and Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory were shook and covered with ash. Cracks appeared in the parking lot, overlook, and foundations of buildings. Volcano House is partially open. The park reopened with limited access on September 22, 2018. An eruption museum will be open soon in Pahoa.
History of Lower East Rift Zone Eruptions
210 × 106 m3
94 m3 /s
81 × 106 m3
31 m3 /s
122 × 106 m3
38 m3 /s
by August 21
800 × 106 m3
100 m3 /s
The summit was subsiding at a rate of 144 m3/s, which may be the amount of lava that was fed into the Lower East Rift Zone. 0.8 km3 (800 x 106 m3) subsided at the summit (about 764 Empire State Buildings), the most in Kīlauea’s recorded history. 60,000 earthquakes occurred, 875 acres of new land formed and 13.7 square miles covered with lava. Federal Aviation Administration Temporary Flight Restriction over Halema’uma’u and Puna expired on October 3. USGS Volcano Hazards Program lowered the alert level to yellow on October 5.
- USGS preliminary summary fact sheet of the eruption
Resource links for Kīlauea volcano
- Kīlauea maps from USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory provides lava flow maps with give lines of steepest descent and flow area. Also gives periodic thermal maps made with a handheld thermal camera and helicopter.
- Google map created by Dane duPont shows locations of homes lost.
- Earthquake data for Kīlauea. USGS HVO.
- Videos from Mick Kalber, Tropical Visions Video
- Photos from Bruce Omori, Extreme Exposures Fine Art Gallery
- YouTube channel for Big Island Video News has Civil Defense announcements, USGS updates, and community meetings.
- YouTube channel for local Puna geologist Philip Ong
- Eruption Lens app by Puna geologist Philip Ong.
- Article on Puna citizen geologist Philip Ong, from Weatherboy 08.04.18
- Kalapana Cultural Tours
- Timelapse gif of radar images of Kīlauea volcano caldera May – August. USGS HVO
- Timelapse of lava flow maps May – June. USGS HVO
- Timelapse video of Kīlauea volcano summit April through August. USGS HVO
- Geochemical detective work helps answer questions about Kīlauea’s ongoing eruption, Volcano Watch, USGS HVO, July 27, 2018
Kyle Anderson, USGS scientist, gives an overview of the eruption
- Report from USGS to National Park Service and Hawaii Civil Defense from July 5, 2018. Explanation of Kīlauea volcano eruption along with two-month forecast of scenarios that could happen. Worth opening and looking at images!
Report from USGS to Hawaii Civil Defense from July 15, 2018. Analysis of the potential impacts of the eruption in the Lower East Rift Zone (Puna). Includes a timeline of the activity, the hazards, and what could happen.
- Kīlauea and Pele’s activities were recorded by Hawaiians in the past. Hawaiian oral tradition describes 400 years of volcanic activity at Kīlauea. Swanson, D.A. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 176 (2008) 427–431.
- The Hawaiian Archipelago was written in 1875 by Isabella Bird. Letter IV has her account of traveling from Hilo to visit Halema’uma’u.
- Journal of a Tour Around Hawaii: The Largest of the Sandwich Islands was written in 1825 by missionary William Ellis. Between pages 136 and 137 is Ellis’ sketch of the Kīlauea crater during his visit. The account of the summit begins on page 127.
- Notes on Aia lā ‘o Pele I Hawai‘i, traditional chant, by Kīhea de Silva
- Economic impact of the Kīlauea eruption from Dr. Mark Kimora
- Estimating the number of residents displaced by the eruption from Dr. Mark Kimora
- Characteristics of Hawaiian Volcanoes, Professional Paper 1801. Poland, M.P., Takahashi, T.J., & Landowski, C.M. 2014. Reston, VA: US Geological Survey.
- Magma Supply, Storage, and Transport at Shield-Stage Hawaiian Volcanoes. Poland, M.P., Miklius, A., & Montgomery-Brown, E.K. Chapter 5 in Characteristics of Hawaiian Volcanoes, Editors: Michael P. Poland, Taeko Jane Takahashi, and Claire M. Landowski, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1801, 2014, Reston, VA. At the least, you need to look at the diagrams in this chapter to understand the magma under Kīlauea.
From meteorologist Malika Dudley, a video report on the marine life affected by eruption
Video of Beneath the Sea Surface: What’s Happening at the Ocean Entry from Malika Dudley, meteorologist for Big Island Now.
- Wright, T.L., and Klein, F.W., 2014, Two hundred years of magma transport and storage at Kïlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i, 1790–2008: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1806, 240 p., 9 appendixes, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/pp1806.
- A Kīlauea volcano fact sheet from 2004. Gives a short overview of the geologic history. US Geological Survey
History Channel documentary from 2007 on how Hawaii volcanoes work. 44 minutes.
People to follow on Facebook
Mileka Lincoln, Ikaika Marzo, Hot Seat Hawaii, Tropical Visions Video Inc. (Mick Kalber), Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery (Bruce Omori), Philip Ong, Hawaii Tracker, G. Brad Lewis, Andrew Hara, Micah Gauthier, Ken Boyer
Giving to help Puna evacuees
- Pu’uhonua o Puna Monetary donations:
Bank of Hawaii has an account set up with the name Pu’uhonua o Puna. Drop by or call any branch to make a donation. The bank account # is 0094851327. Go to www.boh.com and click on Locations to find a branch. All money collected will go directly to residents impacted by lava activities. If you want to give online, you can do that via GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/puuhonuaopuna
- Cecily Wagner is managing the official Amazon wishlist for Pu’uhonua o Puna
Scroll through to see the latest list of what the people need
Looking to ship/mail items to Pu’uhonua O Puna
Since mail to Pāhoa is impacted, please send donations to either address listed below. This will ensure pick up and direct delivery to the Hub…..Mahalo
Pu‘uhonua O Puna
c/o Ashley Kierkiewicz
2366 Kinoole Street
Hilo, HI 96720
Ryan K Towing
16-366 Railroad Avenue
Kea’au, HI 96749
I’ve been using the Ryan K Towing on Amazon – they put up videos when they unpack the boxes!
this list has a Hilo address built in. The Gauthiers are amazing! They add to their list from needs all around the community.
- Please help the Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Networkby fulfilling one or more requests on their Amazon Wish List:
World Central Kitchen provided 1000 hot meals a day to the people of Puna, over 50,000 meals
- Gas gift cards help all those delivering supplies to the shelters, camps, and the Hub. National stations in area are 76, Texaco, and Shell. I have bought 76 gas cards on the website
Ryan K Towing
16-366 Railroad Avenue
Kea’au, HI 96749
- Kua o Ka La school is having to relocate and with school starting up again soon funds are needed to keep the wonderful education our keikis are given going. Donations are needed. Please give if you can. https://www.gofundme.com/relocate-school-displaced-by-lava
- The Hawaii Tracker team has been working without pay for months to provide up-to-date accurate information on the eruption. Please give if you can. https://hawaiitracker.com/
- Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a non-profit that supports the HVNP and offers nature programs https://www.fhvnp.org/donate/giving-opportunities/
Methane and blue flames
An explanation of methane and the blue flames from geologist Janet Babb:
Video of methane flames from USGS, 05.22.18
“With lava now advancing through lush vegetation along Kīlauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone, these explosions have become a concern. If you approach a lava flow that’s encroaching on vegetation, you risk being greeted by the blast of an explosion. Depending on how close you are to the advancing flow, your experience could range from hearing a far-away “boom,” to being thrown several meters (yards) across hard, abrasive lava as the ground beneath you disintegrates. Regardless of where you’re standing, the sound of these explosions is a call for your respect! Read more at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=1366
Geochemistry of erupted lava
From US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, July 27, 2018 Volcano Watch:
“What’s happening inside the volcano?” is just one of many questions asked about Kīlauea’s ongoing lower East Rift Zone eruption. Looking at the geochemistry of erupted lava can help us answer these questions.
Magma supplying Kīlauea’s eruption is composed of melt (molten rock), mineral crystals, and dissolved gases or gas bubbles (exsolved gases). Elements that make up magma can stay in the melt or can build crystals depending on the magma temperature, pressure, and abundance of other elements.
Experimental work has found that the elements magnesium and calcium move between the melt and specific mineral crystals depending on temperature. So, the amount of magnesium and calcium in lava reflects the temperature of the magma.” Read more at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=1375
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