Kilauea lava flow in Hawaii has stalled (for now)



A week ago the active Kilauea lava flow from the Pu’u O’o vent in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park  crossed over a county road (Apa’a Street) and headed onto private property. It destroyed several fence lines, a Buddhist cemetery, some agricultural sheds and a pile of abandoned automobile tires.  This particular flow started up on 6/27/14 heading in the northeast direction, and is about 13 miles from Pu’u O’o.

It is now a few hundred feet in front of the first residence in its path, owned by Alfred Lee, a bulldozer contractor.  Mr. Lee apparently has built up a berm (dirt/gravel wall, with a sunken area) on the sides of his property, and in front of the lava flow, up to 12 feet high to protect his property.  Read more about that controversial berm in the local Big Island newspaper Hawaii Tribune-Herald.  He was recently photographed shooting down the front of the flow with water from a hose (which in the past has been done by Hawaii County firefighters to attempt to slow down the slow-moving lava).

The lava flow has now stalled in the front, but is experiencing breakouts in the rear, mauka (moutainside) areas.  Above is the latest 10/31/14 USGS map of the flow, with the newer areas marked in bright red.

Lava flow approaching first home, courtesy of Mileka Lincoln, Hawaii News Now
Lava flow approaching first home, courtesy of  journalist Mileka Lincoln, Hawaii News Now

Mr. Lee’s home (grey roof) is to the left in the photo above, a greenhouse is the black rectangular shape in the middle of the photo. The large berm is in the middle of the photo, to the left of the smoking black lava flow (pahoehoe, the ropey type of lava).

Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency is monitoring the situation 24 hours a day (now with assistance from the National Guard), and will issue evacuation notices as needed.  The fear is that the lava flow will first cover Pahoa Village Road just to the left of the homes pictured above, the main street into the Pahoa town of 1000 residents, then continue in a north direction to the busier bypass Highway 130. If both streets are thereby cut off, access to hundreds of residents will be cut off, except for a dirt/gravel beach road which eventually gets to Hilo, the main city. The current flow is about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Rd.

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is also currently bulldozing through 8 miles of older lava flows in the Kalapana area, to open up the Chain of Craters road for another access route.

Stay tuned for further updates. This particular vent has been erupting since 1983, so it’s not likely to stop in the near future.

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Carolyn Classen
Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, (since Jan. 2013).


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