Volcano news - Archive Nr. 21

Kilauea volcano, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)
Hawaii County Civil Defense Alerts: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts
HVO dashboard for Kilauea: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/activity_2018.html
HVO lava flow maps:
Frequently asked questions - Health & safety: https://www.facebook.com/notes/usgs-volcanoes/k%C4%ABlauea-eruption-faqs-health-and-safety/2028377117190839/
Frequently asked questions - Hawaiian volcanoes & hazards:
Hawaii National Park Services:
Vog forecast:
Information about vog:
Information about volcanic ashfall:
Honolulu Civil Beat (live webstream):

Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ):
Vigorous eruptions of lava continue from fissures (cracks in the ground) in the Lower East Rift Zone around the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens areas of Lower Puna, southeastern Big Island.

From observations made during a helicopter overflights, fissures 13, 16, 18, 20, 22 are still active, as is fissure #8, which is fountaining lava up to heights of 200+ ft. (~60m), creating pahoehoe lava flows that are advancing at a rate of about 20 yards per hour (~36m per hour**) northwards down Nohea Street, and Pele's hair (lava blown by the wind as it erupts, creating hair-like glassy shards).

** An earlier report from HVO stated a slower advancing rate of 4 m per hour (13 ft per hour), however this was at a different location where lava flows were crossing Pohoiki Street, as reported yesterday. The much faster rate outlined above would indicate yet more juvenile ('young' or 'fresh'), hotter batches of magma coming into the plumbing system of the Lower East Rift Zone from the source, which is an up-welling mantle plume beneath Hawaii.

Sadly, more residents had evacuate immediately, this time from east of Pomaikai Street. Those whose homes have been inundated by lava since the fissure eruptions began are now being officially classed as homeless, and are staying temporarily at evacuation centres or with friends elsewhere on Big Island.

via Lynn Kawano (@LynnKawano)

In 'better' news, the lava flows which had reached the Puna Geothermal Venture at the weekend appeared to have stalled...for now.

The video below shows ~54 hours of footage from the USGS Lower East Rift Zone webcam sped up. From this we can see how variable the current fissure eruption activity is.

via Ian Nesbitt (@palaeosurface)

Also observed from smaller cracks in the ground in the vicinity of the lava flows are blue flames. Research volcanologist - Kayla Iacovino - who those of you in the UK and BeNeLux may have seen earlier this year on the BBC's 'Expedition Volcano' programme, explains:

via Kayla Iacovino (@kaylai)

Ground crews from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continue to monitor the eruptive activity in the LERZ area, including mapping extents of lava flows, taking measurements, and making observations before reporting in to the Hawaii County Civil Defense, which is co-ordinating response efforts. They are also examining ground cracks along Highway 130.

Kilauea summit area:
USGS / HVO report that there are still intermittent ash eruptions from the Overlook Vent (and new sub vent) within Halema'uma'u Crater at the summit area. As can be seen from this image taken by a friend of ours (a resident of the nearby Volcano village area) at the Volcano golf course, trade winds have been slack over the past 24 hours, meaning that the volcanic gases and ash have not been dispersing to the southwest as usual, but rather, accumulating in the immediate vicinity of the summit area. Our friend and her partner have been donning their gas mask and face mask respectively, and have mostly stayed indoors, as they say that the vog conditions have been bad.

via Christine Chun

via Mileka Lincoln (@MilekaLincoln) / USGS / HVO / USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes)
taken from HVO's Kilauea summit webcam on 28th May 2018

HVO have also reported increased seismic activity caused by continued subsidence of Kilauea caldera as the magma withdraws to further down the East Rift Zone. This activity included a M4.1 earthquake detected at around 5.39 p.m. local time yesterday (Monday). Update (12:50 UST): there have been no further ash-venting events at the summit area for the past few hours.

Volcanic hazards and health risks:
For local residents from the Kau Desert and Pahala areas of southwestern Big Island (+ Volcano village?), which are currently being affected by the ashfall and vog from the summit area of Kilauea, there is going to be a community meeting together with staff from HVO, Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency, the Hawaii State Department of Health and others tomorrow (Wednesday) at 5.30 p.m. in the Kau High School. Face masks to protect against inhalation of volcanic ash will be freely available for those who do not already have one.

Volcanoes and meteorology:
If any of you are interested in meteorology (atmospheric science and weather phenomena) as well as volcanoes, then you might want to take a closer look at this post from the U.S. Geological Survey's Volcanoes account.


Pyrocumulus clouds are a puffy, mushroom shape (although not obvious from the image above). They are formed from intense heating of the ground, for example by the hot lava flows in the Lower Puna area of Big Island or wild fires, causing strong up-drafts of air, which also carry water vapour and (volcanic) ash upwards. The additional moisture then cools and condenses at higher altitudes to form these clouds, which can also produce dry lightning if the up-drafts are strong enough.

Brothers Volcano, Kermadec Arc, South Pacific Ocean (Philippa)
When we talk about volcanoes, we usually think of these as being surface features, but these also exist beneath the sea. Brothers Volcano, for example, is what is known as a submarine (underwater) caldera (remains of a volcano after it the roof of a magma 'chamber' has collapsed at the end of an eruption). From imagery captured by underwater rovers, we know that Brothers, which is located about about 400 km northeast of White Island (New Zealand), is the most active of the volcanoes in the Kermadec Arc in terms of hydrothermal ('hot water') activity. 'Black chimneys' approximately 8m high form from the gradual deposition of volcanic minerals. Through these hot volcanic gases escape and rise through the ocean water. The conditions attract marine wildlife.

Brothers volcano is currently being explored by research vessel JOIDES Resolution. They are shortly hoping to drill into the rock in order to take some samples for analysis in order to better understand the volcano, which is thought to be dacitic in composition.

Below is an image of the bathymetry, which has probably been created using radar surveying. The image uses a colour scheme in the same way that a map uses contour lines to differentiate different depths/heights.

via JOIDES Resolution (@TheJR)

If you would like to know more, it appears that there is going to be a ship-to-shore broadcast today (Tuesday 29 May) at 23:19 (but which time zone?) with the scientists on-board:


Mount Erebus, Antarctica (Philippa)
Very cool image below of Mount Erebus, which is the southern-most active volcano in the world, being located in Antarctica.

via Jonny Harrison (@JonnyHarrisonNZ)

May 29, 2018

Kilauea volcano, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)
Hawaii County Civil Defense Alerts: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts
HVO dashboard for Kilauea: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/activity_2018.html
HVO lava flow maps:
Frequently asked questions - Health & safety: https://www.facebook.com/notes/usgs-volcanoes/k%C4%ABlauea-eruption-faqs-health-and-safety/2028377117190839/
Frequently asked questions - Hawaiian volcanoes & hazards:
Hawaii National Park Services:
Vog forecast:
Information about vog:
Information about volcanic ashfall:
Honolulu Civil Beat (live webstream):

Video update from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (28 May 2018):

Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ)
Several fissures (cracks in the ground) remain active in the south east of Big Island, in particular:
* Fissure #13 - the dominant source of lava flows which are entering the ocean
* Fissures #7 and 8 - which are feeding lava flows which have now advanced northeast onto the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) plant. Update (15.40 UST): Lava flows from Fissure #8 are currently ~50m from crossing the Pohoiki Road.

There were (and remain?) fears that contact between lava flows and the production wells could release hydrogen sulfide in an uncontrolled manner. This particular gas, which gives off a potent rotten egg smell, is poisonous, corrosive, and flammable. A statement from the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said that: "County, State and Federal agencies continue to monitor hydrogen sulfide levels, and no hydrogen sulfide has been detected."

According to this news report on Hawaii News Now, PGV have quenched 10 of their production wells, i.e. injected them with cool water**, and filled the 11th production well with bentonite clay to try and mitigate the hazard.


** To me this seems counter intuitive for a geothermal plant, as normally water is circulated around a system of wells in geothermally-heated ground rocks to cause a heat exchange which produces steam to turn turbines and generate electricity. To completely quench a well would require careful controlling of this cold water injection to avoid flashing to steam. Using the clay as an alternative seems like a more logical means of hazard mitigation for this situation in order to permanently plug up a production well.

via U.S Geological Survey / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory - the latest map of the fissure eruptions and associated lava flows in the Lower East Rift Zone around the Lower Puna area of Big Island

via U.S. Geological Survey / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory - pahoehoe lava flows from Fissure #7 (see lava fountaining in the background) advancing westwards down Leilani Avenue. The lava fountaining from this particular fissure was reaching heights of around 50-60 m (164-197 ft) on Saturday night / Sunday morning.

For a video of the same lava fountaining in the background, click on this link:


Leilani Estates residents with properties on Nohea Street and Luana Street between Leilani Avenue and Kahukai, and also on Kupono Street between Malama Street and Leilani Avenue had to evacuate immediately yesterday (Sunday) evening due to the fast flowing nature of the lava flows (in the above images). There was a report of one person being trapped due to the flows cutting off their main evacuation route, but they were thankfully guided out an alternative way by someone using a camera mounted on a drone.

Elsewhere in the area, speed limits of 25 mph have been imposed by Hawaii County Civil Defense on Highway 130 between Leilani Estates and Kamaili Road. This is due to steel plates being placed over cracks in the road caused by the continuing eruptive activity in the area.

Summit area:
There have been no significant ash columns generated since yesterday (Sunday).
Radar data acquired via the European Space Agency (ESA)'s Sentinel-1 satellite from two separate overpasses of the volcano - 19th May at 6.30 p.m. and 25th May at 6.30 p.m. local time show two major changes that have occurred in the summit area over this time period: 1) an increase in size of the Overlook Crater within Halema'uma'u Crater (now ~90 acres / 0.36 squared km in area) on its west side due to continued crater wall collapse 2) the formation of a new subsidiary eruption pit within Halema'uma'u Crater. HVO anticipates further enlargements of these due to continued subsidence of Kilauea caldera as the magma drains further down the Lower East Rift Zone, not to mention more rock falls and small explosions.

via ESA Sentinel-1 satellite / U.S. Geological Survey / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Image of ash plume-forming summit eruption on 25th May at around 6 p.m. local time. Volcanic ashfall was blown with trade winds to the southwest of Big Island, including over the Kau Desert and Pahala.
Via Pamela Mizumo / Hawaii County Civil Defense (@CivilDefenseHI)

Steamboat Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA (Philippa)
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Volcanoes confirmed that Steamboat Geyser, which is one of the biggest geysers in the world, erupted yesterday at around 7.33 p.m. local time. This is the 7th eruption of the geyser detected since 15th March, which is unprecedented for a geyser of this size.

via Dave Warnock / Geyser Gazers Facebook page

Geysers require a delicate balance between have a supply of water, a supply of heat, and a particular, constricted plumbing system below ground which allows water to become trapped and super-heated, i.e. heated to above its boiling temperature, which at Yellowstone is less than 100 degrees Celcius due to the altitude of its location. In its super-heated state, water remains in liquid form due to the pressure of being underground....until...the water system has fully recharged, overflows at the surface in a pre-eruptive part of the cycle known as pre-play, releasing pressure within the system and causing the super-heated water below ground to flash to steam and erupt. For Steamboat Geyser to have erupted this many times in such a short period means both that there is a large source of water that has been re-charging the system, probably snow melt at Yellowstone, as well as a large supply of heat.

via Mark Sodja / Geyser Gazers Facebook page; the top image shows the pre-play phase; the lower image shows the moment this switches from pre-play to eruption of Steamboat Geyser

Sabancaya, Peru (Philippa)
Here at Earthquake-Report.com we love getting fieldwork images from our volcanology friends. The one below at Sabancaya volcano, which erupts on a daily basis, was taken by Colin Rowell. Like yours truly, he is volcano acoustician, detecting eruptions over large distances from their sound emissions, most of which are at frequencies below the human level of hearing. In order to better understand the sound emissions, ideally we also want to capture the visuals of the eruptions simultaneously, so in this image we see Colin using a thermal imaging camera.

via Colin Rowell / Instagram

May 28, 2018

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Armand)
So far 82 houses have been swallowed by the fiercely erupting vent streams. Video from May 25 from Mick Kalber

May 25, 2018 Pele Takes 82 Homes FB from Mick Kalber on Vimeo.

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Armand)
Kīlauea Message Sat, 26 May 2018 02:16:43 HST: Field crew reports fast and fluid lava flows from Fissures 6 and 13, as well as robust activity from Fissures 22, 19, and 21/7.

Why is the ocean entry dangerous?
As described in our July 28, 2016, Volcano Watch article (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/view.php?id=343), the lava delta comprising newly formed land at an ocean entry is extremely unstable. Delta collapses occur without warning, sometimes sending tens of hectares (acres) of the delta plunging into the sea. When this happens, it can trigger explosions that hurl rocks hundreds of meters (yards), both inland and seaward, and send huge waves of scalding water onto the coastline. Worsening the hazard are the near-surface lava tubes directly inland of the coastal entry. These tubes transport molten lava from the vent to the ocean. The ground surface above them can be structurally weak in spots, which makes it dangerous to walk over them and causes the tubes to leak noxious sulfur dioxide gas. In addition, molten lava flowing into seawater creates a hydrochloric acid haze (see “What is laze?” below).
(Kīlauea ocean entry hazards: The plume is not your friend) https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=455
(Death Happens: Respect coastal entry hazards and stay alive) https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=41

"Laze" resulting from lava boiling seawater at the ocean entry; photo from a helicopter overflight on May 22, 2018

What is “laze”?
When molten lava flows into the ocean, it reacts vigorously with sea water to create a different type of gas plume that results in hazy and noxious conditions downwind of an ocean entry. Referred to as a "laze" plume (for a blending of the words 'lava' and 'haze'), it forms through a series of chemical reactions as hot lava boils seawater to dryness. The plume is an irritating mixture of hydrochloric acid gas (HCl), steam, and tiny volcanic glass particles. This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows. Visitors should avoid this plume at the entry point and downwind, as even the wispy edges of it can cause skin and eye irritation and breathing difficulties. Acid rain from the plume has a pH between 1.5 and 3.5, and has the corrosive properties of dilute battery acid.
The ocean-entry plume is blown in various directions by wind. Downslope air flow from nighttime through early morning typically blows the laze plume offshore and out to sea. Between mid-morning and late afternoon, however, trade wind conditions blows the plume along the coast and inland, resulting in locally poor air quality. However, it is important to note that laze is a local hazard and will not affect the other islands.
It should also be noted that laze occurs every time lava flows into the ocean, including during the long-lived Pu’u O’o eruption at the Kamokuna ocean entry (https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/geo_hist_1983.html). In other words, it’s a familiar hazard of Kilauea’s eruptions.
How much new land has been built by the ocean entry?
We don’t have estimates yet, but we can look at past eruptions to get an idea of how much might be added to the island by lava flowing into the ocean. The 1960 Kapoho fissure eruption formed about 2 square km (0.75 square mi) of new land.

Man injured by a lava bomb recounts his terrifying experience
Be it a lesson for those people always wanting to get close to eruptive vents.

26 May, 2018

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Armand)
Kīlauea Volcano Lower East Rift Zone
Eruption of lava continues in the area of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens.
Fissure 22 continues to erupt lava that is flowing southeast to the coast and the lava ocean entry. Fountains at Fissures 6 and 13 feed lava into a channel that reached the coast yesterday forming a second ocean entry.
Fissures 7 and 21 are feeding a perched lava pond and pāhoehoe flow that has advanced eastward covering most of the area bounded by Leilani Blvd, Mohala St., and the fissure line. Fissure 17 continues weak spattering, while Fissures 19 and 23 are no longer active.
HVO field crews are on site tracking the fountains, lava flows, and spattering from multiple fissures as conditions allow and reporting information to Hawaii County Civil Defense.
Volcanic gas emissions remain very high from the fissure eruptions.
Magma continues to be supplied to the lower East Rift Zone. Earthquake activity continues, but earthquake locations have not moved farther downrift in the past few days and the number of located earthquakes remains low.
Kīlauea Volcano Summit
An explosion was detected from the summit Overlook Crater just after 6:00 pm that produced an ash cloud that rose to 10,000 feet above sea level and carried slightly more ash than most recent explosions. The National Weather Service Nexrad radar tracked the cloud for 15-20 minutes. Moderate trade winds were blowing to the southwest and light ash fall likely occurred in downwind locations.
Earthquakes in the summit area continue at a moderate rate, as does deflation of the summit region. The earthquakes and ash explosions are occurring as the summit area subsides and adjusts to the withdrawal of magma from the summit.
Additional explosive events that could produce minor amounts of ashfall downwind are possible at any time. Volcanic gas emissions at the summit remain high.
For forecasts of where ash would fall if such an explosion occur, please consult the Ash3D model output here: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/activity_2018.html
Information on ash hazards and how to prepare for ashfall maybe found here: http://www.ivhhn.org/information#ash 

May 25, 2018

Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: 16 - 22 May,  2018 (Armand)
Via Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program / US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA)
On 16 May HVO reported ongoing deflation at Kilauea’s summit, where the lava lake continued to recede in the Overlook Crater; by the afternoon the caldera floor had dropped a total of almost 1 m since the onset of the lake drainage. The drop of the floor stressed faults around the caldera causing earthquakes as strong at M 4.4. HVO and National Park staff reported frequent ground shaking, and damage to roads and buildings. Phreatic explosions had ejected blocks up to 60 cm in diameter that were found in the parking lot a few hundred meters from Halema’uma’u Crater. Ash plume heights varied, but generally rose no higher than 1.2 km and drifted N. Lava continued to erupt from multiple vents at the NE end of the active fissure system at the Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ). Lava from fissure 17 advanced about 90 m. Weak spattering arose from fissure 18, and fissure 20 was again active.
At about 0415 on 17 May an explosive event (or a series of explosions) at Overlook Crater generated an ash plume that, according to the Washington VAAC, rose as high as 9.1 km (30,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE. Ash fell in areas downwind, including in the Volcano Golf Course and Volcano Village. Subsequent gas, steam, and ash emissions rose to 3.7 km (12,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW. Fissure 17 actively spattered, though its lava flow had nearly stalled. Fissures 18, 19, and 20 reactivated, and a new fissure (21) opened between fissures 7 and 3. A 50-100-m-wide depression with cracks formed parallel to the fissures between Highway 130 and Lanipuna Gardens, into which pahoehoe lava flowed from fissures 20 and 21. Fissure 22 opened just downrift of fissure 19.
On 18 May a robust gas-and-steam plume rose from Overlook Crater, punctuated by several minor ash emissions. At 2358 a short-lived explosion generated an ash plume that rose up to 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW. Spattering continued from fissures 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, and 22, with pahoehoe lava flows being erupted from fissures 17, 18, and 20. Large fountains at fissure 17 ejected bits of spatter 100 m high. Lava flows from fissure 18 traveled almost 1 km SE, and a flow from fissure 15 crossed Pohoiki Road. A fast-moving lava flow (275-365 m per hour) emerged from fissure 20 and traveled SE, across Pohoiki Road. Gas emissions remained elevated in areas downwind of the fissure system; air quality was poor from gas emissions as well as smoke from burning vegetation. Earthquake locations had not moved farther downrift in the previous few days.
Small ash emissions from Overlook Crater occurred intermittently on 19 May. The eruption of lava and ground cracking in the area of Leilani Estates subdivision continued. Fissure 17 was weakly active after fountaining earlier in the day. Fissures 16-20 merged into a continuous line of spatter and fountaining; flows from this fissure 20 complex flowed 275 m/hour S. Two of the flows joined less than a 1.6 km from the ocean and continued to flow S between Pohoiki and Opihikao roads.
During 19-20 May there were two explosive eruptions from Overlook Crater, and several smaller ash emissions. Lava flows reached the ocean overnight (late on 19 May) along the SE Puna coast. On 20 May spatter was ejected from fissures 6 and 17, and fissure 20 produced significant lava flows. A ground crack opened under the E lava channel diverting lava into underground voids. Gas emissions tripled as a result of the voluminous eruptions from fissure 20. Photos take in the afternoon showed two ocean entries along approximately 1 km of coastline.
A small explosion at Overlook Crater at 0055 on 21 May produced an ash plume that rose around 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW. Several smaller emissions throughout the day ejected abundant ash. Robust steam-and-gas plumes also rose from the crater. Lava fountains from fissure 22 fed a channelized lava flow that entered the ocean N of MacKenzie State Park. Spattering occurred at fissures 6, 17, and 19. Small ash emissions from Overlook Crater continued on 22 May. Lava continued to enter the ocean, though by the afternoon only one entry was active. Most of the LERZ activity shifted to the middle part of the fissure system. The Aviation Color Code remained at Red and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Warning.

Langila | New Britain (Papua New Guinea)
Based on analyses of satellite imagery and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 17-18 and 21-22 May ash plumes from Langila rose to altitudes of 2.1-2.4 km (7,000-8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted WSW, W, and WNW.

Merapi | Central Java (Indonesia)
PVMBG reported that a phreatic eruption at Merapi began at 0125 on 21 May and lasted for 19 minutes, generating an ash plume that rose 700 m above the crater and drifted W. A six-minute-long phreatic eruption began at 0938 and produced an ash plume that rose 1.2 km above the crater. Ashfall from both events was reported in areas 15 km downwind. A third event, detected at 1750, lasted three minutes and produced a plume of unknown height. After the events one volcano-tectonic earthquake and one tremor event were recorded. The seismicity along with increased phreatic events prompted PVMBG to raise the Alert Level to 2 (on a scale of 1-4).

Piton de la Fournaise | Reunion Island (France)
OVPF reported that the eruption at Piton de la Fournaise which began on 27 April from fissures at Rivals Crater continued through 22 May. Flowing lava was mostly confined to tubes, though spatter was ejected 20-30 m above the highest-elevation (and most active) vent of the three. Lava was weakly ejected from the lowest-elevation vent. CO2 concentrations at the summit were high. Inflation continued to be detected. Tremor levels had increased around 15 May but then began to steadily decrease on 18 May. Observers noted a significant decrease in activity on 19 May at the highest-elevation vent, and by 22 May was quiet; the main cone continued to spatter.

Drone video of the April 28, fissure eruption

May 24, 2018

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)
Hawaii County Civil Defense Alerts: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts
HVO dashboard for Kilauea: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/activity_2018.html
Frequently asked questions - Health & safety:
Frequently asked questions - Hawaiian volcanoes & hazards: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/faqs.html
Hawaii National Park Services: https://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm
Vog forecast: http://mkwc.ifa.hawaii.edu/vmap/hysplit/
Information about vog: https://vog.ivhhn.org/
Honolulu Civil Beat (live webstream): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=009L4FAxwG4&feature=youtu.be

Over the past 24 hours there have been lots of additions to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) website and USGS Volcanoes Facebook page, including the HVO dashboard for Kilauea, which has an overview of ALL the useful weblinks, frequently asked questions about Hawaiian volcanoes and hazards, and frequently asked questions about health and safety (see links above).

Below is the latest video report from HVO with volcanologist Wendy Stovall:

In the Lower East Rift Zone (ERZ) a new fissure (crack in the ground erupting lava) - #24 - has been confirmed between Kaupili and Mohala Streets, i.e. near Fissure #23. Lava spattering continues from fissures #5, 6, and 19, and weak spattering at fissure #17. Lava spattering and flows from fissure #22 are still entering the ocean just north of MacKenzie State Park, but shifted now slightly more to the west. HVO and Hawaii Counties Civil Defense warn NOT to venture near to this ocean entry, neither by boat not by land, as in addition to the laze (hydrochloric acid vapor produced by the chemical reaction between hot lava and cold, salty sea water), other hazards include littoral explosions of ballistics (flying rocks) and lava bench collapses.



At the summit area there were multiple small eruptions of ash that have occurred in the past 24 hours. In each case the ash was ejected to altitudes of less than 10,000 ft. / 3 km above sea level. The areas of Pahala and Volcano village, i.e. in the vicinity of the summit area of Kilauea, are those which are currently worst affected by light ash fall. The HVO / USGS Volcanoes websites above provide advice, and also an opportunity for some citizen science to collect ash samples, which can then be analysed both for the chemical content and the ash shape to provide the monitoring scientists with further information about the eruption dynamics below surface within the Overlook Crater within Halema'uma'u Crater.

May 23, 2018

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Armand)

Kīlauea Eruption FAQs: General Questions 
We’ve received many questions about the ongoing eruption at the East Rift Zone and summit of Kīlauea Volcano in Hawai’i. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) has put together a collection of the most frequently asked questions for you to check as the eruption continues. The most recent status updates are always posted at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/status.html

*NOTE: These FAQs will be updated as the eruption progresses.
To read more about the history of Kīlauea Volcano and its eruptions, visit its HVO page https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/ or peruse this publication about eruptions of Hawaiian volcanoes: https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/117/. General HVO FAQs may be found at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/faqs.html
Where can I find information about the ongoing eruption?
Did we know that this eruption was going to happen?
HVO issued Volcano Activity Notices on April 17 and May 1 about the possibility of an East Rift Zone eruption. One of the ways that scientists can determine if an eruption is likely is to watch the seismic activity at a volcano. Magma must break rock in order to move through the earth’s crust, or take advantage of existing cracks. The breaking or shifting rock creates earthquakes that can be tracked in time and space, and HVO scientists were able to track magma movement via earthquakes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAGzGQI0cvA&feature=youtu.be
Is this the beginning of a new eruptive episode?
The LERZ eruption is Episode 62 in the ongoing Kilauea East Rift Zone eruption, which began in 1983.
What’s going on with magma in Kilauea’s plumbing system right now?
Magma drained from the summit lava lake and the storage reservoir beneath the surface, and it is flowing underground within the East Rift Zone towards the eruption site in Leilani Estates. This is not the first time such a pattern has been observed. During the 1955 and 1960 eruptions, which also occurred in Puna, significant summit deflation was associated with the eruptions, indicating that magma was draining from the summit magma chambers to feed the lower East Rift Zone eruptions. In fact, in 1960, sampling of lava over time revealed that the composition of the lava changed to reflect summit magma after 13 days of eruption - it took that long for magma to travel through the East Rift Zone from the summit to the Puna eruption site!
The closest analogy to the current situation is 1924, when there was also a lava lake at the summit. Magma intruded beneath Puna but did not erupt (even though massive ground cracking occurred), and the summit lava lake drained as magma flowed from the summit to feed the intrusion. Kilauea's magma plumbing system is hydraulically connected, just like the plumbing in a house, so what happens in one part of the system affects all other parts of the system.
Is it safe to visit the island?
Yes. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is closed until further notice and areas of the East Rift Zone are closed to all except residents and emergency responders, but it is safe to visit the rest of the island. But, please do not attempt any lava viewing. The eruption is still extremely dynamic and dangerous, and responders need to focus on protecting residents and not dealing with sightseers.
Is Mauna Loa going to erupt? Could this eruption trigger a Mauna Loa eruption?
There is some indication that the Mauna Loa and Kilauea plumbing systems respond to each other's activity, but it tends to be an inverse effect (when one is particularly active, the other is quiet). Mauna Loa is currently experiencing normal levels of earthquake activity and is being closely monitored in case anything unusual does happen.
What’s the risk of a large landslide from the south flank?
There have been large collapses of Hawaiian volcanoes in the past (see the article at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=212 for more information). But a collapse now is very unlikely. The south flank has been moving towards the sea for thousands of years, and there is a history of large earthquakes on the south flank -- much larger than Friday's event (there was a M7.7 in 1975, and a ~M8 in 1868). There is also steady motion of the south flank towards the sea at rates of 6-8 cm/yr happening all the time. The "lurch" of the M6.9 earthquake was prompted by pressure in the east rift zone due to the magma intrusion. And we have seen strong earthquakes (usually M5) after similar, albeit, smaller intrusions in the recent past (like in 2007 and 2011).
Why do people live/build in lava flow hazard zones in Hawaii?
Kilauea volcano (including the East Rift Zone) is 90% covered with young flows (see https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/geo_hist_summary.html), and many of these areas have been occupied for a long time. We can do little to reduce or eliminate the volcanic hazards that have always existed on the Big Island, but we can greatly reduce the risks to life and property posed by these hazards. Our best tools for reducing risk are proper land-use planning, which limits development in high hazard areas, and education, which gives people a rational basis for deciding where to build a home, develop commercial property, or locate a public facility.
Can we build walls to divert the lava?
Lava flow diversion is a complex legal, political, economic, technical, and cultural issue that must be decided by local and/or state government officials. Lava diversion is only feasible when the terrain is favorable, where there are lesser-value lands downslope toward which flows can be directed, and when sufficient time is available to carefully plan and carry out the operations.
Attempts have been made to divert Hawaiian lava flows in the past. Lava diversion has been attempted several times in Hawaii (bombing operations of 1935 and 1942; barrier construction in 1955 and 1960), but none of these attempts were well-planned, and all failed. Some local efforts were made to create bulldozed berms to divert lava flows away from the town of Pahoa in 2014, but the flows stagnated before they reached the barriers. To learn more about the history of lava flow diversion in Hawai`i, check out this article: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=587
Why is there no streaming video of the eruption?
Hawai’i does not have the same internet capabilities as the mainland. Bandwidth is often limited, and HVO must give preference to monitoring instruments before cameras. Additionally, conditions at the summit and in the Rift Zone are both dynamic and dangerous, and it is not always safe for our scientists to establish stationary observation posts. The safety of residents and our scientists depends on those monitoring instruments and is our first priority.
You can see static-image webcam feeds on this page: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/multimedia_webcams.html and follow local reporting for streaming videos (https://www.facebook.com/civilbeat).
How can I volunteer to help the USGS?
Right now, USGS scientists are extremely busy and cannot accept new volunteers. At calmer times, you can apply to volunteer at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volunteer.html

Fissure and Flow map
Here is the fissure and flow map, as of May 21, at 8:00 AM HST. The red shaded areas show lava flows and sites of active ocean entry.
Maps are available on the USGS–Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webpage at


Satellite radar shows enlargement of Halemaʻumaʻu eruptive vent
This animated GIF shows a sequence of radar amplitude images that were acquired by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana #CosmoSkyMed satellite system. The series shows changes to the caldera area of #Kīlauea#Volcano that occurred over May 5 at 6:12 a.m. HST, May 17 at 6:12 a.m. HST, and May 21 at 6:12 a.m. HST. The #satellite transmits a #radar signal at the surface and measures the strength of the reflection, with bright areas indicating a strong reflection and dark areas a weak reflection. Strong reflections indicate rough surfaces or slopes that point back at the radar, while weak reflections come from smooth surfaces or slopes angled away from the radar.
The May 5 image was acquired before any small explosions occurred from the summit. The May 17 and 21 images show changes to the summit area after the onset of small explosions and ash emission. Major changes over time include: (1) a darkening of the terrain south of Halemaʻumaʻu crater, which reflects accumulation of ash; (2) enlargement of the summit eruptive vent on the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu crater; and (3) the development of a small disrupted area on the east rim of Halemaʻumaʻu that may reflect slumping of a portion of the rim towards the growing collapse pit on the crater floor.


Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)
Hawaii County Civil Defense alerts: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts
Hawaii Volcano Observatory daily update: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/status.html
Hawaii National Park Services: https://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm

Vog forecast: http://mkwc.ifa.hawaii.edu/vmap/hysplit/
Information about vog: https://vog.ivhhn.org/
Honolulu Civil Beat (live webstream): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=009L4FAxwG4&feature=youtu.be

See the link below for the latest video update (21st May) from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) on the on-going eruptive activity both at the summit of Kilauea volcano and down the East Rift Zone (ERZ) in the Lower Puna area, southeastern Big Island.

via UGSS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes)

At the Lower East Rift Zone, as per yesterday's update, Fissure 22 (crack in the ground erupting lava spatter and flows) is feeding channels of lava flows that have merged and then split again, forming two ocean entries just north of MacKenzie State Park. As previously explained, the chemical reaction between the hot lava and the cool, salty ocean water is creating laze, which is hydrochloric acid vapor. As impressive as it looks, you really do not want to be anywhere near this, as it stings the eyes and nose worse than wasabi, mustard, and chopped onions combined, and can damage the respiratory system. The Coast Guard service continue to restrict boat access to this area at this time.

Volcanic gas emissions, in particular sulfur dioxide (SO2) also remain high in this area of Big Island, causing another phenomenon known as vog. This looks similar to fog, but is caused by the lack of dissipation of the volcanic gases in the air. and can produce acid rain-like conditions.

Field crews from HVO continue to work tirelessly in this area taking samples of lava spatter for lab analysis, mapping the extent of the lava flows as they develop, and making visual observations. They are working closely with the authorities. Local communities are asked by Hawaii County Civil Defense to remain vigilant in case rapid evacuation of areas are required.

Incidentally, there was an interesting and well-articulated post on social media earlier today from a local resident reminding other residents, including those who have lost their homes, of the Hawaiian perspective: that what some see as destruction from the fissure eruptions, the Hawaiians perceive as creation by (the goddess of fire) Pele as she continues to build her 'aina' (home) around Kilauea. The social media poster also reminded residents that the volcanic hazards should not come as a surprise - they are mentioned in people's mortgage contracts - that people should help each other out as a community, and to heed warnings from those monitoring the situation in order to stay safe.


May 22, 2018

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Armand)
Fountains of lava are rivering downwards and have now reached the ocean with fierce steaming
Video courtesy Mick Kalber and Paradise Helicopters

May 20, 2018 Lava Enters the Ocean from Mick Kalber on Vimeo.

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)
Hawaii County Civil Defense alerts: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts
Hawaii Volcano Observatory daily update: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/status.html
Hawaii National Park Services: https://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm

Local residents in the Lower Puna area of Big Island, Hawaii, are being urged to evacuate immediately when asked to do so. The latest evacuation order was given to residents of Kamaili Road due to brush fires. Highway 137 is closed between Kamaili and Pohoiki Roads. Highways 132 and 130 are open to residents only (ID must be shown) and during the daytime only to check on properties. There will be a community meeting for local residents tomorrow (Tuesday 22nd May) for further questions and updates. (source: Hawaii County Civil Defense alerts)

At this current time we are waiting for the latest official update and video blog from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) for 20th May 2018. However, the following news (below) has been pieced together from the official USGS Volcanoes and Hawaii County Civil Defense social media feeds from the past 24 hours.

Lots of developments in the Lower East Rift Zone (ERZ), in particular with regards to Fissure #20.

Multiple lava flows from this particular fissure (crack in the ground) have now both merged, flowed even further, and then split to produce two ocean entries of lava.

via USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes)

This is creating a secondary volcanic hazard, known as laze, i.e. hydrochloric acid steam, which is really nasty if inhaled; at worst, it can cause permanent damage to the respiratory system, and at the very least, it can cause irritation to the eyes and nose. Laze is produced due to the chemical reaction of hot lava mixing with cool, salty ocean water. For safety reasons, Coast Guard services are limiting ocean access for the public to this area of Big Island at this time.

As well as laze, higher-than-previous levels (x3) of sulfur dioxide (SO2) are being emitted due to the increased volumes of lava currently erupting from Kilauea.

As Simon Carn (Professory of Geology, Michigan Tech) goes on to explain, although these are high levels of sulfur dioxide for Big Island, these are not big enough emissions for global climate change, also because of the low altitude.

One of the biggest worries both for HVO, which is monitoring the eruptive activity at the different sites on Kilauea volcano, Hawaii Counties Civil Defense, and other first responders is that local residents might become trapped due to the lava flows from the fissures going across roads, cutting off access / evacuation routes, and lava flows causing bush fires as they engulf trees and other vegetation. Carolyn Parcheta, who was the duty manager at HVO yesterday, explains in this BBC News report, which was filmed at the latest press conference.

via BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld)


NOTE: There are some mistakes in this report. Kilauea volcano has in fact been erupting constantly for the past 35 years, but in different locations around the volcano and different eruptive styles. What the report refers to specifically is the fissure eruptions in the Lower Puna area from this past month.

BBC News have also reported that a local resident sustained lower limb injuries after they were hit by a ballistic (large, flying piece of lava spatter). They were sat on their veranda watching the lava fountaining from one of the fissures.

In addition to the merging of lava streams from Fissure #20, a crack has also opened up under the east lava channel diverting lava into underground voids.

via USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes)

Lava fountaining continues from this fissure. Turn up the sound on the video to hear as well as see this. The noise is generated both from the magmatic gases rapidly escaping from the fissure, and from the lava spatter as it lands on the ground.

via USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes)

You can see a live stream of the lava fountaining from the East Rift Zone via the hyperlink below:

via Honolulu Civil Beat / YouTube (screen shot below taken 21st May 2018 at 08:23 UST)


Field crews from HVO are continuing to make observations, map the outlines of the lava flows and fissures to update the volcanic hazards map for the Lower East Rift Zone, and to take samples of the lava spatter for chemical analysis in the lab. The latter has confirmed that the current activity at this area is being fed by a hotter, 'fresh' batch of upwelling magma, which is migrating along the system.

via USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes)

At the summit area of Kilauea there have been several small-scale, short-lived emissions of volcanic ash in robust plumes of steam and gas from the now enlargened Overlook Crater within Halema'uma'u Crater. Tradewinds have carried these emissions to the south west, i.e. mostly over the Ka'u Desert and Pahala area of Big Island..

via USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed in this area.

Mount Merapi, Java, Indonesia (Philippa)
There were two short-lived (~19 minutes and 55 minutes), phreatic (steam-driven) eruptions at Merapi earlier today. The first one occurred at around 01:25 local time, generating an eruption plume to an estimated 700m above the summit area (as observed from Babadan post, but not so easy to see in the dark). The second one occurred at around 09:38 local time, and generated an eruption plume to a height of around 1.2 km above summit area.

Winds blew the second eruption plume to the west. There was light ash fall in the neighbouring areas of Kemiren, Kaliuran, and Srumbung. This volcanic ash is a nuisance, as even a dusting as light as this can be enough to clog up car engines and scratch windscreens if not washed off properly, due to the abrasive nature of ash (volcanic glass shards, effectively). No evacuations were required though, and the warning status of Merapi remains at 'Normal'.

via Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo_PN)

Mount Agung, Bali, Indonesia (Philippa)
The image below reminds us that Mount Agung on the east side of the Indonesian island of Bali is still active. This was taken on 19th May at around 17:19 local time. The eruptive column, which contained volcanic ash and gases including water vapor, reached a height of around 1 km above the summit area before dispersing with trade winds in a south easterly direction.

There is an exclusion zone around the volcano, and access to the summit area remains closed. Bali is otherwise safe for tourists to visit.

via Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo_PN) / MAGMA Indonesia (@id_magma)

Nevados de Chillan, Chile (Philippa)
If any of you are planning to visit Nevados de Chillan in Chile, which at this time of year is a popular area for skiing and other outdoor / winter pursuits, please heed the warnings of ONEMI (Chilean Civil Defense) to understand the volcanic hazard map (below) and to learn about the community evacuation plans should Nevados de Chillan erupt. (Chilean volcano monitoring agency) SERNAGEOMIN have been detecting precursory geophysical signals for a potential eruption for some time.

There are three main potential hazards indicated by this map: pyroclastic density currents (PDCs - avalanches of hot volcanic gases, ash, and other small debris), lahars (flows of water and volcanic ash), and tephra (ash fall).

via ONEMI (@onemichile) / SERNAGEOMIN (@sernageomin)

ONEMI has this generic information sheet (in Spanish, English, and French) with volcanic eruption preparedness advice: http://www.onemi.cl/erupciones-volcanicas/

May 21, 2018

Update 15:48 UTCUpdate Kilauea, Hawaii
Mick Kalber :
 An unbelievable amount of lava is erupting from fissures below Leilani Estates on the Big Island of Hawaii!
More than twenty cracks are issuing red hot liquid rock, which is coursing downhill, destroying homes, cars, roads... and anything else in her path.
The fissures have now joined forming a "curtain of fire" in a spectacular display.
Numerous fingers of lava have stretched toward the sea overnight, and this morning were only about a mile from the water.
Over forty homes have been destroyed since the eruption began fifteen days ago. Although it began in Leilani and burned several homes there, she soon established her vents below the subdivision with towering fountains, spatter cones feeding gigantic lava flows.
So far, no deaths have been reported.
First responders have evacuated several residents who had become trapped by the fast moving flows. Pohoiki Road has been covered with lava, but Highways 132 and 137 are still open as of this writing.
If she continues at the same rate we saw this morning, she may cross the "Red Road," and make the ocean by tonight or tomorrow. No lava is currently erupting in the Leilani Estates subdivision.
Mahalo to the kind folks at Paradise Helicopters... they offer the finest charters in the islands!

May 19, 2018 Pele's March to the Pacific from Mick Kalber on Vimeo.

Update Kilauea, Hawaii
Simon Carn : Good @NASA OMI overpass of #Kilauea on May 19 showing SO2 plume. Estimated SO2 fluxes based on this data are ~10-30,000 tons/day, which is up to ~5 times the long-term average SO2 flux. Periods of higher flux may correspond to more vigorous lava fountaining.

20 May, 2018

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (Philippa)
See the hyperlink (below) for the latest video update from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) - dated May 18th 2018 - featuring volcanologist Wendy Stovall.


In the video Wendy explains the image (below), which was obtained by satellite radar data, how the active Overlook Crater has significantly enlargened since the two larger-scale explosive events on 16th and 17th May, and how there has been a down drop of the Halema'uma'u Crater wall on the southeast side, which is the side the that Overlook Crater is within it.

As reported (below) in the updates on the Earthquake-Report.com, there are two new fissures (cracks in the ground) which have opened up, now taking the total to 22 fissure eruptions of lava spatter and flows along the East Rift Zone (ERZ) in the Lower Puna area of south east Big Island.

via USGS / HVO

There are also still some large booming sounds and lava emissions from Fissure 17. See the video clip below, and turn the volume up. The delay between the image and the sound is because light waves travel at a faster speed than sound waves, and so the greater the distance between the fissure and the camera, the longer the time delay between the image and the sound.

As both a volcanologist and an acoustician, I can explain the 'boom' sound from Fissure 17 is caused by the sudden release of pressurised volcanic gases in the lava. HVO have now confirmed from the chemical analysis of lava spatter samples (as I suggested) that what was previously erupting from the Pu'u O'o Crater (further up the East Rift Zone) is now erupting in the Lower East Rift Zone, and that the source is from fresher batches of magma up-welling from the mantle plume beneath Big Island, which would explain the more vigorous, gas-driven eruptive activity.

Explanation: Magma contains lots of different gases, the main ones being carbon dioxide, water vapor, and sulfur dioxide, and at shallower, near-surface depths - chlorines and fluorines. The gases exsolve (come out) from the magma melt at different depths, which is to do with the depth-pressure relationship: in the ground, pressure decreases with decreasing depth. By the time magma melt has risen to shallow depths just below the Earth's surface, most of the gases have exsolved and then gently escaped through fissures and smaller cracks in the ground around Kilauea volcano.

When there has been a slower accumulation of this gently de-gassing magma, we have observed the previous effusive activity of lava lakes and lava flows. However, when hotter, more buoyant pockets of magma rise to the surface at a faster rate, these have less time to de-gas, leading to more pressurised, explosive** activity. This is the same mechanism that is observed at volcanoes such as Stromboli (near Italy) and Piton de la Fournaise. The flow of this hotter, low viscosity (runny) magma is also faster along the East Rift Zone under Big Island, which is why it is traveling further than the Pu'u O'o Crater and erupting now as lava fountains and flows from fissures in the Lower Puna area.

** The two explosive eruptions at the summit of Kilauea this week were caused by a different mechanism, which was the level of the lava lake dropping within the Overlook Crater to below the level of the water table in the ground, bringing the hot lava in contact with cold water, causing instant flashing of this water to steam, and upward increase of pressure.

More footage (below) of the lava spattering from the fissures in the Lower East Rift Zone

HVO reported yesterday that there was a fast-flowing (300-400 yards per hour or about 274-364 metres per hour) pahoehoe lava flow from Fissure 20 that had cross the Poihiki Road.

via Honolulu Civil Beat & Aloha Broadband / YouTube

As 'exciting' as all of this eruptive activity may be for those of you reading this, spare a thought not just for the local residents who are having to evacuate and/or cope with the conditions, but in particular the staff from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, as well as crews from Hawaii County Civil Defense, National Park Services, and others who are working 24/7 to monitor the developing situations and to keep people safe.

Due to the two explosive events earlier this week at the summit area of Kilauea, HVO are currently not able to work from the observatory building within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which remains closed at this time.

The image below shows the staff working out of a new location, including geophysicists, geologists, seismologists, field crews, operations people (i.e. those who keep everything running, including IT, technical staff, transport, and admin), long-term volunteers, and a media team. Having been a volunteer at HVO 10 years ago when the observatory last had to evacuate, all credit in particular to the IT team for keeping all monitoring streams running at this critical time.

via USGS / HVO

Mount St Helens, Washington State, USA (Philippa)
Yesterday (May 18th) was the anniversary of the 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens, in which a landslide caused a sudden release of pressure within the volcanic system, producing a lateral (sideways) blast instead of an upwards blast.

This video from Discovery Channel's 'Raging Planet' shows the time lapse imagery of the moment:

The full story can be read on the USGS Volcanoes Facebook feed here:

....and in this video here, which features USGS volcanologist and one other, who are both now at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The image below was captured by one of two climbers who were on Mt. Adams, which overlooks Mt. St. Helens. They looked on in horror as they witnessed not only the initial lateral blast, but the ensuing pyroclastic density currents (PDCs = fast flowing avalanches of hot volcanic gases, ash, and rocks that have fallen out from an eruption column), in which 57 people were killed, including USGS volcanologist Dave Johnston.

The image (below), taken much later in the year shows the debris flows of lumber (trees), which also occurred. Additionally, nearby rivers flooded. Around 250 homes were destroyed, and due to roads being blocked by the erupted materials and debris, livelihoods lost, flights which had to be diverted or cancelled, this eruption of Mt St Helens was deemed the most expensive eruption in the U.S. in the 20th Century in terms of financial loss.

Manaro Voui, Ambae, Vanuatu (Philippa)
You may remember that we have previously mentioned the on-going eruptive activity of Manaro Voui crater, which is forcing the permanent evacuation of the 11,000 inhabitants of Ambae, one of the islands of Vanuatu. The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), which is monitoring the activity, yesterday held a workshop for the various authorities having to deal with the response. There were presentations, discussions and exercises focused on how best to resolve the situation for inhabitants beyond the immediate evacuation.

As one scientist - Dr Lucy Jones - says: "Earthquakes, the release of gases, and deformation of the Earth's surface can alert scientists that a volcanic eruption may occur. Prepared citizens and a co-ordinated community, emergency, and government response can keep an eruption from becoming a catastrophe."

According to this report from Radio New Zealand, inhabitants from Ambae island will be moved to the nearby island of Maewo, with this official evacuation / relocation to occur in stages between 1st June to 30th July of this year. Trying to find a permanently location to move people to and finding the funding to do so have been two of the biggest problems faced by the local authorities in Vanuatu. Even this solution is not ideal, as the land on Maewo is only being rented, and financial assistance for inhabitants to re-establish their livelihoods is going to be very limited.


In the meantime, New Zealand and Australia have been assisting the Vanuatu government with getting aid to the inhabitants of Ambae. The immediate impacts of Manaro Voui craters current activity, which is generating a lot of ash fall, has been contamination of drinking water, failure of crops, impacts to livestock, and roof collapse on houses due to the weight of the ash. The long-term health implications to the inhabitants, in particular to their respiratory health, are not going to be known for some time.

via NZ Defence Force (@NZDefenceForce)

Image via Peter Lynch / Radio Australia (@radioaustralia)

The VMGD is currently having to deal with eruptions not only from Manaro Voui / Ambae, but also eruptions and/or alerts from 5 other volcanoes around Vanuatu: Ambryn (Alert Level 2 of 5) from its volcanic gas emissions; Gaua (Alert Level 2), which is in a state of unrest, with volcanic gas and steam blasts; Lopevi (Alert Level 2), with low associated risk on the island, due to the majority of inhabitants previously mass evacuating in 1960, but possible implications for aviation; Suretamatai (Alert Level 1), with risk only in the immediate vicinity of the crater. Mt. Yasur on the island of Tanna also has frequent (daily) Strombolian-style eruptions, but the only associated risk is to tourists who get too close to the eruptive vent at the summit.

May 19, 2018