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Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

November 10, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Hawaii lava oozes across road, gets closer to structures

 A new lobe of lava burned along Cemetery Road / Apaʻa Street after it crossed it Sunday. (Hawaiian Volcano Observatory photo)

A  new lobe of lava burned along  Cemetery Road / Apaʻa Street in the community of Pahoa, on Hawaii’s Big Island, after it reached the road on Sunday. (Hawaiian Volcano Observatory photo)

Lava from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano oozed close to a residential structure Monday morning. The main front of the lava flow has been stalled since Oct. 30 on the outskirts of the village of Pahoa on the Big Island. But fingers of molten rock are extruding from behind the stalled leading edge, and on Sunday and Monday the lava crept across a road and was  about 15 feet from a garage, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory which issues daily updates  on what’s called the June 27th lava flow (for the date it began moving)

Alternate emergency roads are being built in case the lava crosses Highway 130, a main road in the rural Puna area near Hilo. Some Pahoa residents have left; others are on evacuation notice.

An outbreak of lava from behind the stalled leading edge advances  along Pahoa's Cemetery Road / Apaʻa Street toward  a new steel power pole that is surrounded by a cinder barrier.  Public officials are trying to protect power poles to keep electricity on. (Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory)

An outbreak of lava from behind the stalled leading edge advances along Pahoa’s Cemetery Road / Apaʻa Street toward a new steel power pole that is surrounded by a cinder barrier. Public officials are trying to protect power poles to keep electricity on. (Hawaiian Volcano Observatory)

So far the lava has flowed about 14 miles from a  volcanic cone of Kilauea within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. If  the lava begins flowing more robustly again,  it could go about another six miles (or more, depending on its route) before reaching the sea.

Many visitors are interested in seeing the lava flow, but access to Pahoa is restricted and the flow is mostly on federal and state lands that are closed to the public for safety. However, visitors can go right to the edge of  the main Kilauea Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which  has lava-viewing info , where a lava lake just under the crater surface emits plumes and at night a fiery glow.

The current flow comes from Kilauea’s  Pu’u’O’o volcanic cone. A lava flow in 2011 from the same cone went in the opposite direction and traveled down the slope of Kilauea into the Pacific ocean, creating a spectacular display as a fiery stream of lava cascaded off a cliff into the waves amid clouds of steam.

Here’s the background from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on the previous and the current lava flow from what’s called the East Rift Zone of Kilauea:

“The eruption in Kilauea’s middle East Rift Zone started with a fissure eruption on January 3, 1983, and continued with few interruptions at Puʻu ʻŌʻō Cone, or temporarily from vents within a few kilometers to the east or west.

“A fissure eruption on the upper east flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō Cone on Sept. 21, 2011, drained the lava lakes and fed a lava flow (Peace Day flow) that advanced southeast through the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision to the ocean within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park in early December 2011. The flows stalled and re-entered the ocean starting on November 24, 2012, until activity started to decline and the ocean entry ceased in August 20, 2013; the flow was dead by early November, 2013. The Kahaualeʻa flow, which started from the spatter cone/lava lake at the northeast edge of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater floor in mid-January 2013 was dead by late April, but a new flow (informally called Kahaualeʻa 2) became active in the same area in early May 2013, waxing with inflation and waning with deflation.

“The Kahaualeʻa 2 flow died following the onset of a new breakout from the northeast flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō on June 27, 2014. The June 27th flow advanced to the northeast, confined to old grounds cracks for part of its length, and has been slowly approaching the town of Pāhoa.”

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Comments | More in Hawaii, Hawaii volcano | Topics: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, June 27th lava flow

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