USGS observes increase in lava flowing through tube to Puna lava - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

USGS observes increase in lava flowing through tube to Puna lava flow, though leading edge remains stalled

Photo courtesy: County of Hawaii Photo courtesy: County of Hawaii
PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than a week since the leading edge of the Puna lava flow stalled, Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials say it still hasn't advanced and remains stalled 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road. However, officials say the flow pad continues to show signs of inflation which could result in breakouts and more activity.

USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say in some places the thickness of the flow has roughly doubled over the previous five days, and breakouts were observed from inflated ridges. HVO scientists observed breakouts above the stalled flow front, the most active being 490 yards upslope near Pahoa Cemetery. They say other breakouts were active immediately upslope of Apa'a Street -- moving towards the transfer station at a distance of about 130 yards -- and scattered from about 930 yards to 1.7 miles upslope of Apa'a, roughly halfway between Pu'u 'O'o and the flow tip, and on the north flank of Pu'u 'O'o. HVO scientists say the cross sectional area of the lava tube on Friday measured 2.9 square yards, slightly higher than measured on October 31, which they say implies a small increase in the amount of lava flowing through the tube.

USGS says inflationary tilt began at Kilauea's summit on Friday afternoon, and thermal images show the level of the summit lava lake at Halema'uma'u Crater to be higher than the previous day.

Hawai'i County officials say the upslope breakouts, approximately 0.7 to 1.5 miles above the Apa'a Street area, along the north side of the flow field are moving in a north/northeast direction. Officials say the burning along the flow edges in the areas of the cemetery and above the transfer station is limited to the vegetation in contact with the flow. They say smoke from the active burning may be visible throughout the day, but there is no brush fire threat at this time.

Hawai'i County officials say smoke conditions Saturday are light with variable winds. Residents down wind who may be sensitive or have respiratory problems are advised to take necessary precautions and to remain indoors, should the winds shift or smoke conditions increase.

Hawai'i County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira says although current flow activity has decreased, the evacuation advisory for those residents down slope of the flow will continue and residents will be kept informed of the flow status and advancement.

Pahoa Village Road between Apa'a Street and the Post Office Road will remain closed and limited to area residents only. In addition, Civil Defense, public safety personnel and Hawai'i National Guard troops will be operating in the area round the clock to maintain close observations of flow activity.

More details tonight on Hawaii News Now.

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