Leilani Estates Volcano Eruption Continues

Lava Flow 5-18-2018
Lava flow at Leilani Estates, May 5, 2018. Image from Facebook video by Travis Sanders.

The volcano eruption at the Leilani Estates on the Puna Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii continues with fiery destruction now as more lava flows and vents have become active. A large scale flow was photographed earlier this morning on Facebook.

Earthquakes continue and though none has come close to matching the big ones that happened yesterday. Hawaii Volcano Observatory continues to diligently post the latest official updates to their website.

Media coverage of the eruption is widespread, picked up by outlets all of the United States and the world. Many user videos have popped up on Facebook lending a narrative to the eruption. Several Facebook videographers have risked their own lives to get close to the action. Some of those video links (most on Facebook) are referenced below:

Here are more photos, videos and links:

Webcam Image
This is an image of lava plumes at Leilani Estates off in the distance from the Kapoho webcam set up by USGS. 5-5-18
Lava Flow 5-5-18
Lava flow at Leilani Estates, May 5, 2018. Image from Facebook video by Travis Sanders.
Halemaumau Lava Lake
USGS image of the lava lake at Kilauea summit, Halemaumau. The lava lake has significantly dropped. Yesterday’s 6.9 earthquake collapsed walls around the crater, causing a large ash cloud to rise. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was closed yesterday to the public.
Earthquake map of Hawaii Island
Earthquake activity is still at a heightened level. Note that some have occurred near Mauna Loa and also on the the southwest rift zone area. All of the effected areas are in Zones 1 and 2 of high risk assessment for lava inundation.

More below the fold.

USGS HVO Update at 11:54 AM May 5, 2018.

19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WARNING
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

Summary: Active eruption of lava and gas continues along Kīlauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone within the Leilani Estates subdivision. Additional fissure vents producing spatter and small lava flows developed early this morning, and additional outbreaks in the area are likely. Deflationary tilt at the summit of the volcano continues and the lava lake level continues to drop. There is no active lava in the Puʻu ʻŌʻō area. Aftershocks from yesterday’s M6.9 earthquake continue and more should be expected, with larger aftershocks potentially producing rockfalls and associated ash clouds above Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

Photos and maps of activity will be posted to the HVO web site as soon as possible.


Residents of the Puna District should remain alert, review individual, family, and business emergency plans, and watch for further information about the status of the volcano.

Hawaii County Civil Defense messages regarding conditions, warning, and evacuations may be found at http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/.

Summit Observations: Deflationary tilt at the summit continues. In concert, the summit lava lake is dropping. Tremor amplitude is fluctuating with lava lake spattering. No large rockfalls or ash plumes related to rockfalls into the lava lake, such as occurred yesterday during the large earthquake sequence, have occurred. Elevated summit sulfur dioxide emission rates persist. Gas emissions remain elevated. Current webcam views are here: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/multimedia_webcams.html

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: Seismicity remains elevated at Puʻu ʻŌʻō but tiltmeters near the cone show no significant deformation overnight. No lava is active in the area and the 61g lava flow is no longer being fed. The summit crater of the cone will likely continue to collapse intermittently producing small plumes of ash. Yesterday, there were several vigorous episodes of ash emission in response to collapse, including immediately after the nearby M6.9 earthquake.

Hazard Analysis: Additional fissure outbreaks producing spatter and lava flows are likely. Locations cannot be forecast with certainty, but new outbreaks thus far have been preceded by ground cracking, then strong steam and volcanic gas release. Areas uprift and downrift of the current fissure zone are the most likely to see further outbreaks.

Areas downslope of an erupting fissure or vent are at risk of lava inundation. Currently, lava flows from active fissures are sluggish and not moving very quickly or far. The general area of the Leilani subdivision remains at greatest risk. However, as the eruption progresses, other areas of the lower East Rift Zone may also be at risk.
High levels of volcanic gas including sulphur dioxide are being emitted from the fissure vents. In addition, smoke from burning houses and burning asphalt is a health concern and should be avoided.

As the lava lake level inside Halemaʻumaʻu drops, rockfalls from the enclosing walls may increase in frequency prompting explosions of spatter from the lake onto the nearby crater rim and lofting plumes of ash. Dustings of ash from these events can occur downwind. Yesterday’s strong earthquakes were responsible for some of these plumes and associated ashfall, both from Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake and the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent.

Additional aftershocks from yesterday’s M6.9 earthquake are expected and some may be strong. Residents are advised to review earthquake preparedness by consulting available resources such as: https://www.shakeout.org/hawaii/dropcoverholdon/

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Melvin Ah Ching is a photographer, consultant, blogger, desktop publisher, and computer enthusiast living and working in Hawaii. The Hawaii Files have been online since 2006.