Lava Flow

The Conversation: Friday, July 21st, 2017

Jul 21, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

Assessing of the Asia Pivot; Maui Health System; Tsunami Warning Funding

A Kīlauea Update

Mar 1, 2017
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

It's been a dramatic new year so far for one of Hawai'i Island's most spectacular sights. The Kīlauea Volcano has been continuously erupting for 34 years—but there have been some changes since January. As for current conditions, HPR contributing reporter Sherry Bracken got an update from scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Visitors looking to see active lava flowing into the ocean on Hawai‘i’s Big Island will have a new vantage point. Just a few days after a 26-acre lava delta crashed into the sea, the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has opened a new viewing area for the public.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Hawaiian Island authorities are urging the public to keep a safe distance from lava entering the ocean.  Lava from the Pu‘u ‘ō‘ō vent continues to flow into the water near Kamokuna, and its attracting a lot of visitors.

But scientists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say the new earth can build a fragile platform known as a “lava delta”.  The shelf can break off without warning… sending steam, boiling water and football sized molten rock in all directions.  Janet Babb is a scientist with the Hawai‘i Volcano Observatory. 

Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

Lava from Kīlauea has been erupting from the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent since 1983. Recently the flow reached the ocean, for the first time in three years. Thousands of visitors and residents have been flocking to Kalapana to see it for themselves.

Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

Nearly a year ago, lava from Kīlauea started flowing towards the Big Island town of Pāhoa. The lava has since cooled, but has forever changed the landscape of the small town. And as Hawaii Public Radio’s Molly Solomon reports, nowhere is that more apparent than at the Pāhoa Japanese Cemetery.

hvo.wr.usgs.gov
hvo.wr.usgs.gov

In Pāhoa, the new finger of lava continues to move downhill at a rate of around 250 yards a day.  Wet conditions have reduced smoke pollution and the risk of brushfires started by the lava.

Sherry Bracken
Sherry Bracken

  

  The lava front closest to Pahoa Village has now stalled and cooled, with breakouts around 3 1/2 miles upslope.  With no immediate threat to homes or businesses, Hawaii County officials have reopened Pahoa Village Road.  But starting last August, local residents had to prepare for lava inundation.  Many moved.  Every family has their story, and HPR's Sherry Bracken has one.

hvo.wr.usgs.gov
hvo.wr.usgs.gov

Hawaii County Civil Defense personnel flew over the active lava flow Tuesday afternoon and reported that active lava breakouts are around 3.3 miles above Apa'a Street.  The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has done a thermal assessment of the lower part of the lava flow sitting outside Pahoa and say the flow closest to Pahoa Village is no longer active and has cooled.  But they warn that the lava flow could resume its activity. 

hvo.wr.usgs.gov
hvo.wr.usgs.gov

As lava continues to move slowly towards Pahoa, costs are increasing for Hawaii County, including those for emergency services and road construction.  But there's another cost:  the county's long term potential for revenue.  HPR's Sherry Bracken has the story. 

hvo.wr.usgs.gov
hvo.wr.usgs.gov

  As lava continues to threaten Pāhoa Village, Hawai'i County is facing increased costs to continue to provide access and services to lower Puna.  HPR's Sherry Bracken talked about that with Mayor Billy Kenoi.

www.hawaiicounty.gov
www.hawaiicounty.gov

  Breakouts from the main lava flow approaching Pahoa are continuing in three areas.  While the front itself remains stalled, its future path remains uncertain.  When it became clear in August that lava from Pu'u 'O'o Vent was heading towards Pahoa Village, it surprised many residents.  But local geologists were not shocked, including one who spoke with HPR's Sherry Bracken.

hvo.wr.usgs.gov
hvo.wr.usgs.gov

  

Why a Pahoa Bookstore is Staying Open

Nov 12, 2014
Molly Solomon

The lava flow creeping through Pāhoa continues to remain active, claiming its first residential home earlier this week. Many residents have already packed up and left the area, but as HPR’s Molly Solomon reports, some businesses have chosen to stay.

lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com
lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com

 As the lava flow from Kīlauea’s Pu’u ‘O’o Vent continues to creep through Puna just outside of Pahoa, Hawai'i County officials are facing a series of decisions. A major one concerns roads. HPR's Sherry Bracken has that part of the story. 

hvo.wr.usgs.gov
hvo.wr.usgs.gov

The lava flow creeping through Pahoa has breached the fence line of the Pahoa Transfer Station and is now moving down a driveway around the perimeter of the property.  

Officials say the finger of lava measures about 12 feet long and two to three feet wide.  All hazardous materials were removed from the transfer station weeks ago.  

hvo.wr.usgs.gov
hvo.wr.usgs.gov

The slow moving lava flow on Hawaii Island has set fire to its first home, making contact with the residence just before noon.  The home’s renters had already left the residence.  Firefighters on site will let the structure burn down, but will control any wildfires that threaten other homes.  Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said the nearest home is about a half mile away. 

Family History Survives Lava in Pāhoa Cemetery

Nov 6, 2014
Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

Of the many stories of loss and change that surround the lava flow moving to isolate parts of Pāhoa, few rival the story of the Buddhist cemetery just outside town The century-old graveyard is home to primarily Japanese immigrants, many of whom worked in the sugar cane fields that once bordered the town. HPR’s Molly Solomon visited Pāhoa last week and has this story of one family’s history, forever changed by the lava.

  Last month, Aiko Sato carried a bucket of red ginger to her car. She was heading out to the Pāhoa Japanese Cemetery to pay respect to the graves of her ancestors…part of her weekly ritual…but this time was different. The slow-moving lava heading towards town now had the cemetery in its path. “Something told me, I had to go,” says Aiko.

Hawai‘i County Civil Defense had already blocked the main road. But after hearing Aiko’s story, a state official agreed to drive her out to see the graves. “And he let me take my time,” recalls Aiko. “I was able to place flowers at the family grave. And I felt relief, because I knew that would probably be the final time. And I guess it was.”

The next day, Aiko woke up to find the cemetery has been overrun, taken by lava overnight. “They had national news about the lava going over the cemetery,” she said. “I cried, because I figured probably the Sato grave went.”

“I always thought the cemetery would not be covered by the lava,” says Aiko’s aunt, Eiko Kujiyama, who lives down the street with her son. She remembers the phone call from Aiko that morning, telling her the cemetery was gone. “When she called me, I was shocked to hear it was covered - so sad! Every time I prayed, don’t take the cemetery and please spare Pāhoa."

  The loss means something extra to the Sato family. Aiko’s father, Hiroo Sato, spent most of his life caring for the graves of Japanese immigrants buried at the Pāhoa Japanese Cemetery, filled with people who built the town including his parents and two siblings. He’s also known for writing the book, Pāhoa Yesterday, a historical account of the town’s early years. Evidence of his extensive research on the former sugar cane town, are scribbled on pieces of paper Aiko is carefully packing away. “These are all of his things,” she says. “The last of his manuscripts I sent out. All of his other tidbits of information, that went earlier”

  Aiko clears a pile of papers from the dining room table as movers carry a set of chairs down to the carport. She’s evacuating the family home in case the lava takes a turn. Her once crowded living room is now empty, except for an ottoman and the TV.

At a community meeting last week, a scientist with the USGS approached Aiko and her aunt with news about the family grave.

“Everything was up in the air as to whether the grave was still standing,” she said. “But at the lava update meeting we found out the grave had survived.” Aiko pulls out the photo clearly showing the family tombstone surrounded by black lava. “Sato, the family name, is still distinct. To see the lava completely around the gravestone -- it’s like a miracle.”

I ask Aiko what her father would say, knowing the grave he so diligently cared for had survived. “It would bring him a lot of joy and happiness, knowing that it’s still there.”

And at this point, so is Aiko. With the family grave secure, she hopes to stay in the home her family has lived in for generations.

Raven Hanna
Raven Hanna

  Hawaii County Civil Defense teams are still going door to door in Pahoa.  They're working with volunteers and talking with residents as the lava continues its slow movement.  Those volunteers have their own stories, and Sherry Bracken brings us one of them.

Pahoa Lava Slows

Nov 3, 2014
hvo.wr.usgs.gov
hvo.wr.usgs.gov

The lava flow in Pahoa has slow to a near halt, showing very little change since yesterday.  The flow front remains around 480 feet from the Pahoa Village roadway.  Most of the activity is happening further up from the flow.  Small breakouts 2 miles from the flow front which have moves around 200 yards since Friday.  Mike Poland is from Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory.  He says the amount of pressure in lava will help to determine, where the breakouts will occur. 

Lava Fears Prompt Some Businesses to Close Up Shop

Nov 3, 2014
Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

While the lava continued to stall over the weekend, USGS geologists stressed the flow is far from over, leaving residents and business owners in Pāhoa preparing for the possibility they may be cut off. As HPR’s Molly Solomon reports, local shops and restaurants are grappling with the decision of whether or not to stay.

Pahoa Residents Pack Meeting on Lava Update

Oct 31, 2014
Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

The leading edge of the lava slowed to a stall Thursday. The lava, which has not advanced in the past 24 hours, is still 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road. Hundreds of residents attended a community meeting last night seeking answers and information on the lava front. HPR’s Molly Solomon was in Pahoa and has this report.

USGS
USGS

The type of lava approaching Pahoa is a particular type of molten rock.  Hawaiians and volcanologists call this type of overlapping strain of lava--Pāhoehoe, a name introduced in 1875.  It flows smoothly from a volcano’s vent, coating the ground like a parking lot.  As it creeps along, it makes a sound like styrofoam being walked on, or Christmas ornaments breaking.  Its famous “ropey” texture is created as it encounters resistance in its path, causing it to bunch and layer.  Mike Poland is from Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. 

HELCO
HELCO

The molten lava creeping down the hill in Pahoa is consuming everything in its path.  Electric company officials feared the wooden utility poles in the path of the lava would burn down on contact, cutting off power to the area.  So workers with Hawaiian Electric Light Company sought advice from experts at UH Hilo and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.  They settled on a design that would wrap the pole in a heat resistant coating.  Rhea Lee from Hawaiian Electric talks about the science. 

damontucker.com via Google Maps
damontucker.com via Google Maps

Among the many people paying close attention to every movement of lava in Pahoa is Kawika Miller from the Hawaii Air National Guard.  His father grew up in Pahoa and Kawika says he has a lifetime of memories about the area.  He’s also known for some time that the approach of lava might change his life.

You can hear more “Voices from Pahoa” on our website.

Big Island Video News
Big Island Video News

 

   As lava moves into Pahoa Village, Hawaii County Civil Defense and the Community Emergency Response Teams have been going door to door to talk with residents and ensure they are ready to evacuate.  HPR's Sherry Bracken has the story of one couple who had that conversation.

lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com
lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com

  

  News coverage of the Pahoa lava flow has often been presented as a “horror movie in slow motion”. The focus for many has been a timeline to when the molten rock may reach Pahoa village. But some people are not happy with the negative tone of coverage.

Dana Kenny is a realtor with an office in Pahoa. He says that it will be sad if homes and roads are lost, but the town will not be destroyed, and the sense of panic is unnecessary.

He argues that on Maui, Hana has survived and is a popular destination, despite its isolation.

hvo.wr.usgs.gov
hvo.wr.usgs.gov

  The lava flow in Pahoa has been dominating news across the state in recent days. But it’s also getting a lot of attention in Asia. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute

Pahoa Residents Prepare as Lava Edges Closer

Oct 29, 2014
Molly Solomon / Molly Solomon

Lava flowing from Kilauea Volcano towards the town of Pāhoa has finally arrived, crossing residential property lines early Tuesday morning. Residents have had weeks to prepare for this slow-moving disaster and are now faced with the reality that their homes and businesses could be in danger. HPR’s Molly Solomon is in Pāhoa and has this report.

hvo.wr.usgs.gov
hvo.wr.usgs.gov

  As lava continues to snake through the Pāhoa area,  most local residents are feeling anxious.   And the adults in a family need to address not only their own concerns but also the fears of their keiki.  HPR’s Sherry Bracken today brings us the second part of her conversation with a Hilo psychologist.

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