Active Lava Flow Beheaded 6-30-14

Active lava flow, known as Kahauale’a 2, has come to an abrupt end:

The active lava flow from Pu’u ‘O’o Vent, which had been advancing to the northeast, has finally met an end. In the words of today’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory report, the flow was “beheaded” by the spectacular June 27th flow.

The June 27th flow marks a major change in activity at Pu’u ‘O’o Cone, which has been the only location with an active lava flow on the ground in Hawai’i for the last ten months.

An abrupt deflation at Pu’u ‘O’o Cone early Friday morning heralded more changes to come. New fissures opened up on the north flank of the cone and vigorous lava flows issued forth.

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New flows from fissures on Pu’u ‘O’o’s north flank – Photo: HVO-USGS

A brief, but very beautiful, channelized lava flow formed a winding path down the northeast flank on Friday. The flow advanced rapidly at first, to about 1/2 to one mile before stagnating. During this time, very bright glow was visible in the sky from our Kalapana location.

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A channelized “river” of lava winds down Pu’u ‘O’o’s northeast flank – Photo: HVO-USGS

Spatter cones, which had been active for many months within Pu’u ‘O’o Crater, collapsed revealing active lava beneath. The floor of the crater sank slowly in response to the large volume of magma being erupted from the new fissures.

Now it’s apparent that these events also spelled the final chapter of the Kahauale’a 2 flow, which began just over one year ago. The northeast spatter cone, which had been the source of the Kahauale’a 2 flow was literally cut off by the new, vigorous flows. The flow advanced over the past 13 months in fits and spurts to the northeast. It reached a maximum of 5.1 miles (8.2 km) to the northeast of Pu’u ‘O’o Cone before stalling. The flow stalled and revived several times before its final demise on June 27th.

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The former active lava flow, Kahauale’a 2, met its demise on Friday – Photo: HVO-USGS

The fissures on Pu’u ‘O’o Cone’s north flank remain active today. The new active lava flow is expanding to the north and east, but remains south of the former Kahauale’a 2 flow.

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An HVO webcam screenshot facing west of the new active lava flows on Pu’u ‘O’o’s north flank

The entire active lava flow is within the closed Kahauale’a Natural Area Reserve and a restricted area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This area is illegal to access because of significant dangers. No permits for lava tours are issued to enter this area – to anyone- ever.

The summit lava lake has weathered these changes seemingly unaffected. The lake level is higher than in previous months, and hovers around 100 feet below the crater floor. Beautiful, bright red glow from the circulating lava lake remains visible from across the caldera at dusk.

A big mahalo to the HVO scientists who bring us news of the ongoing changes and wonderful photos!

  • Lava Activity Update

    Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park remains closed due to the current volcanic activity but we're hopeful we'll be able to resume tours soon. We'll post any new information here as we receive it. Please check back!