Saturday, 28 March 2009

Changing Kilauea

One of the great things about living here is being close to an active volcano. OK, so it may be the last thing anyone in their right mind would want to live near, but for someone like me, who's fascinated by this planet and how it works, I'll live with the danger! Most people on this island live with that danger as well, not only from the Kilauea volcano which only impacts a relatively small part of the island, but from Mauna Loa which threatens a much larger area, both on the leeward and windward sides. Fortunately, Mauna Loa is not active at the moment, but it almost certainly will erupt again in the near future. Both Mauna Kea and Hualalai also present a risk - neither are extinct. On the other hand, Kilauea is most certainly active.

This evening I took another trip up to the Volcanoes National Park to see how things were going up there. The Halema`uma`u Crater (at Kilauea's summit) is still active as you can see in the picture above, the plume has been there for a year now. Recently, glow from the lava just underneath the vent has been seen at night, but I didn't have time to stay beyond sunset this evening otherwise I'd have tried to take a picture.

A close up of the vent was revealing - it's much larger than the last time I took a picture although it's not eating into the actual crater floor. It's the side of the crater that seems to be disappearing and making the vent larger. Reports are that just in the last few days there has been some activity around the vent which has caused some incandescence at night and interrupted the plume. I believe this was thought to be due to rockfalls into the vent. That sounds consistent.

Another change I noticed is the lack of steam coming out of the numerous steam vents. The picture above was taken about a month ago and shows steam rising from several vents hidden in the undergrowth. I didn't retake a picture today, there was so little going on.

180 degrees away from that view are the famous steam vents - you can park your car and walk right up to them (hence the fencing - you really don't want to fall down these vents!). The first picture was a month ago after some heavy rains, the last one taken this evening. Well, I guess that shows that the ridiculous amount of rainfall we've recently experienced really has tapered off. Perhaps spring is here after all!


Keera Ann Fox said...

I just love how humans think they can control nature. I mean, look at that pathetic little stop sign. Like a volcano would pay attention to something that small. ;-)

Andrew Cooper said...

I envy you the proximity some times. A a lot easier for you to pop over to this fascinating place for a hike than the two hour drive I need to get from the other side. I will probably be glad of that distance next time the eruption shifts.

The weather can also effect the visibility of the steam plumes. The vents are much more visible on a cool day than on a warm sunny day.

Tom said...

Andrew - ever made a weekend of it? I really recommend a dinner at the Kilauea Lodge if you haven't been there before. Not cheap but very nice!

Keera - not long ago there was talk about how to block the vent at the summit to stop the damaging plume. It's been a nightmare for farmers in Kau who are down-range from the plume. None of the suggestions came from the geologists as you might imagine! There are just things we can't control and long may that continue.