Hawaii volcano activity closes roads

A new lava flow has broken out on the east rift zone of Kilauea volcano on Hawaii Island. As a precaution, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closed the Chain of Craters Road for a day, but parts of Crater Rim Drive remained open. All roads are open at this time but it is always good to check the current status before you leave to visit a volcano in Hawaii.

The most recent activity began early Thursday afternoon (August 4), according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO). Their monitoring equipment detected a “rapid deflation” of the PuuOo crater floor.

“Interestingly, as the crater floor deflated, lava in the perched lake within Pu`u `Ō `o Crater continued to circulate, just as it had over the past several weeks,” said Jim Kauahikaua, HVO Scientist-in-charge. “But, by 3:15 p.m., the crater floor and lava lake began to collapse.”

Lava then broke out at the base of the west flank of the crater cone. This flow branched, with a weaker northwest arm going toward the forest and the larger south arm advanced down the slope of the volcano. The HVO says the lava flow is entirely within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and does not pose a hazard to residents at this time.

Kilauea has been erupting for 28 years. The eruption on the volcano’s east rift zone is the world’s longest continuous volcanic eruption. A second eruption began at the summit in 2008 and is also ongoing.

While many people have heard of the volcano in Hawaii, quite a few visitors do not realize that it is only on Hawaii Island (also known as the Big Island). Not every island in Hawaii has an active volcano. Hawaii Island is very accessible by air from Oahu or the mainland and is an interesting addition to any Hawaii vacation. However, do not plan to just drop by spontaneously if you have a few hours free from a conference or stay on the other islands. Make arrangements if you’d like to visit Pele while you’re in Hawaii!

Photo courtesy USGS.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher