Lava field now 11 square miles

  • This U.S. Geological Survey photo An aerial view taken Monday of the lava channel from fissure No. 8 on Kilauea volcano's lower east rift zone in the vicinity of the Kapoho cone

The lava flow field from the lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea volcano is now 11-plus square miles in area, according to Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Mayor Harry Kim.

“We may be looking at the new normal here,” Snyder said this morning, referring to Civil Defense Director Talmadge Magno’s note that the Pu‘u O‘o eruption has been ongoing for 35 years.


According to Snyder, Magno said, “We have a few vulnerable communities left that we have to keep an eye on.”

“There’s still a lot of lava activity in Kapoho,” Snyder said. “There are some houses that have survived in the northern tier, but there is some smoke that’s been seen.”

Snyder said a morning overflight of the lava area by the U.S. Geological Survey “didn’t have any surprises, good or bad,” according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geophysicist Jim Kauahikaua.

She said fissure No. 8 continues to feed a lava channel sending the molten rock downslope. She added there are two major and two minor ocean entry points for lava now in lower Puna.

There was a summit explosion at Halema‘uma‘u crater at about 1:30 a.m. Snyder described it as a “small ash-pour eruption, equivalent to a 5.3 (magnitude) quake.”

She said the summit continues to collapse.

“The seismologists I talked to said they’ve never seen anything like it,” Snyder said. “The equivalent was about 7,000 years ago at Crater Lake in Oregon. We haven’t had anything like this in modern times with the radical collapsing of the crater. … The north and west sides of the crater are sloping inside, making Halema‘uma‘u much larger in circumference.”

“We expect seismicity levels to rise again. Gas-level emissions are unchanged,” she added.

Snyder said the northeasterly tradewinds of 10-15 mph are expected to change to east-northeasterly winds of 5-10 mph tomorrow.

“The vog is going to be thicker,” she said. “(Sulfur dioxide) levels (will) rise in the Pahala and Ocean View area. These conditions are going to persist through the weekend.”

President Donald Trump is set to arrive in Honolulu today for a brief layover from his one-day summit meeting in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It is not known if he’ll visit the Big Island to view lava-stricken areas.


Community meetings on lava and emissions are set for 5 p.m. today at Pahoa High School Cafeteria and 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Ocean View Community Center.

Email John Burnett at

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