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USGS Lava Flow Update

September 25, 2014

The leading edge of the June 27th flow stalled over the weekend, but active breakouts persist near the flow front, a short distance behind this stalled front. Today, lava was slowly advancing on a different front, along the north margin of the flow. The burn scar from a brush fire triggered by the lava this weekend covers much of the lower portion of the photograph. (USGS)

The following photos and video were released by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (USGS) (Dated September 24, 2014) . Note: these photos and video were not taken in areas currently accessible to the public. (You can visit the official website of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park for current information on the areas of Kilauea that are open to public). Click here to see photos from previous post.

Several skylights provided views into the June 27th lava tube today, and the fluid lava stream could be seen moving downslope. (USGS)

CLICK ON PHOTO TO WATCH VIDEO: This Quicktime movie shows an HVO geologist sampling lava on the June 27th lava flow using a rock hammer. The lava is placed into a bucket of water to quench the sample. Lava samples like this are routinely collected for chemical analysis, which provides insight into the magmatic system feeding the eruption. (USGS)

The thermal image on the right provides a different view of the flow front, and clearly shows the scattered breakouts in this area. Most of these active breakouts were at, or upslope from, the slowly advancing flow front on the north margin of the flow. The leading edge of the stalled flow front, not surprisingly, did not have any active breakouts. (USGS)

Another view of the flow front region, looking northeast. Pāhoa can be seen near the top of the photograph, and is about 3.3 km (2.1 miles) from the stalled flow front. (USGS)

A wide view from the summit, looking east. Halemaʻumaʻu Crater occupies the foreground, with the lava lake in the Overlook crater. At the skyline, Puʻu ʻŌʻō can be seen. The June 27th lava flow is fed from a vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, with lava traveling through a lava tube to the flow front. The position of the flow front is marked by a smoke plume as the lava at the front burns vegetation. (USGS)

This comparison of a photograph with a corresponding thermal image shows a typical lobe of pāhoehoe on the June 27th lava flow. The highest surface temperatures in this image are just under 900 Celsius (1650 F), but if one measured the temperature of the lava beneath the thin crust it would be close to 1140 Celsius (2080 F). (USGS)

This map uses satellite imagery acquired in March 2014 (provided by Digital Globe) as a base image to show the area around the front of the June 27th lava flow. The flow front closest to the transfer station was inactive, but small, sluggish breakouts were scattered across the surface of the flow upslope from the stalled front. The most active breakout was advancing northeast from the north margin of the flow. Because the flow has not been advancing at its leading edge, we do not project its advance at this time. (USGS)

This large-scale map shows the distal part of the June 27th flow in relation to nearby Puna communities. The black dots mark the flow front on specific dates. The latitude and longitude of the most-active, slowly advancing breakout on September 24 was 19.473080, -154.981264 (Decimal degrees; WGS84). The blue lines show down-slope paths calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM; for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Down-slope path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map indicate approximate flow path directions. (USGS)

This small-scale map shows the June 27th flow in Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone in relation to lower Puna. The area of the flow on September 19, 2014, at 11:45 AM is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as mapped on September 24 at 10:45 AM is shown in red. The distal tip of the flow was inactive, but small breakouts were scattered across the surface of the flow from just behind the front to about 4 km (2.5 miles) upslope. The most active of these breakouts was advancing northeast from the north edge of the flow about 750 m (820 yards) back from the stalled front, but was fairly weak. It was 15.7 km (9.8 miles) straight-line distance from the vent. The blue lines show down-slope paths calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM). For an explanation of down-slope path calculations, see: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/. Down-slope path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map indicate approximate flow path directions. All older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2014) are shown in gray; the yellow line marks the lava tube. (USGS)

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