Kilauea 61g lava flow continues spilling into the ocean

On Friday evening, breakouts from the east side of lava flow “61g” provided good viewing for visitors who walked in from the Kalapana viewing area. Photo taken Friday, August 12, 2016 courtesy of USGS/HVO

Lava entering the sea on the western side of flow “61g” is building a platform of new land known as a lava delta, which appears deceptively stable. However, the veneer of lava on the delta surface hides a foundation of loose rubble. As a result, lava deltas are extremely unstable, and they can—and do—collapse without warning. The white plume produced when lava enters the sea is a corrosive mixture of superheated steam, hydrochloric acid, and tiny particles of volcanic glass, and should be avoided. Photo taken Friday, August 12, 2016 courtesy of USGS/HVO

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 U.S. Geological Survey/Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Kilauea Volcano Status

Activity Summary: Kīlauea Volcano continues to erupt at its summit and from its East Rift Zone. The 61G lava flow continues to flow into the sea at Kamokuna and produce scattered breakouts on the coastal plain and pali. The flow poses no threat to nearby communities. The lava lake at Halemaʻumaʻu Crater continues to be active with its surface about 30.5 m (100 ft) below the crater rim.

Summit Observations: The lava lake within the Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook crater remained active and circulating; its surface rose slightly to 30.5 m (100 ft) below the crater rim as measured this morning. Weak inflationary tilt of a summit was was measured over the past 24 hours. Seismicity rates were normal, with tremor fluctuations associated with lava lake spattering. The average daily summit sulfur dioxide emission rate ranged from 1,100 to 7,500 metric tons/day over the past week.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: No significant changes are visible on webcam images, with persistent glow continuing at long-term sources within the crater. Seismicity and tilt records also showed no significant changes in the past day. The sulfur dioxide emission rate from all East Rift Zone vents was about 400 metric tons/day when measured on August 10.

Lava Flow Observations: The 61G lava flow, extending southeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō on Kīlauea’s south flank, continued to be active and to enter the sea at multiple places near Kamokuna (labeled ‘ocean entry’ on HVO maps). Scattered breakouts continue predominantly on the makai (seaward) portion of the coastal plain and on the pali.

As a strong caution to visitors viewing the new ocean entry (location where lava meets the sea) for Flow 61G, there are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water. Also, the new land created is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea. Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates an acidic plume laden with fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field at the coast. The area of the active flow field as of August 2 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as mapped on August 12 is shown in red. The base is a Digital Globe image from January 2016.