February 23, 2017 Plenty Pali Flows

What’s new at the 61G eruption of Kilauea? Well, flows on, and just above the Pali appear to be robbing the firehose of some of its lava. The ocean entry still sports a tremendous amount of liquid rock pouring into the ocean… but its volume is noticeably reduced. Flows are burning the last forested kipukas to the southwest of what was once Royal Gardens… and a huge breakout in the middle of the Pali is sending pahoehoe streaming downslope, becoming a’a toward the base of the cliff. The Pu’u ‘O’o vent was very difficult to access this morning… but we got there for a few quick glimpses of a steamy lava lake. The vent is a clearing house for lava traveling six miles downslope and entering the ocean in a single firehose lava stream at Kamokuna, just inside the Hawaii Volcanoes Nationals Park boundary. All of this has been going on for quite some time… but the new developments over the past two weeks are numerous new surface flows both on and above the Pali, as well as a few on the coastal flats. Several skylights have opened up above the Pali… the lava moving above, as well as into and out of the tubes below. The firehose lava at the ocean entry was still active when we visited today, and littoral explosions continue to rock the coastline, which remains cracked and dangerously unstable. Several recent collapses have lopped off sizable portions of the bench and sea cliff at the entry area. As the firehose shoots lava into the water, the cold sea water in turn freezes the lava and the concussions shatter it into fragments. Some of these sink to the depths of the sea, while others gain the purchase of the coastal rocks and form black sand beaches. The ocean entry remains a magnificent sight for visitors who can gain access from either the Kalpana of HVNP side by walking out the temporary access road, which goes directly to the ocean entry! The walk is lengthy, however, and precautions should be observed. Kudos to Paradise Helicopter pilot Colin Burkardt (the smiley face pilot), who did his normal fantastic job of getting us up close and personal with the Volcano Goddess Pele… You da man, Colin! Bruce Omori, special guest Jacob Straube, Leilani, Tourist Ducky and I had a fabulous lava overflight charter. It just doesn’t get any better than flying with Paradise Helicopters!
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