USGS: Puna lava flow breakouts inflates to more than 18 feet, widens to half a mile upslope

USGS: Puna lava flow breakouts inflates to more than 18 feet, widens to half a mile upslope

PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory walked the Puna lava flow from Apaa Street to Pahoa Village Road Tuesday and they say it's clear the tube system is still carrying lava as far downslope as the Pahoa cemetery, though it is sluggish and slow moving.

HVO scientists say the majority of activity is happening further upslope where breakouts are significantly inflating and expanding the flow -- in some spots reaching heights of 18 feet and widening to a little more than a half mile across.

USGS says the breakout upslope of Apaa Street / Cemetery Road that claimed the first house on Monday has inflated considerably since then -- in many spots doubling in size from 3 to 6 feet within 24 hours.

HVO scientists say a breakout further upslope, approximately 0.37 miles from Apaa Street is where they've observed the most activity. That lobe advanced 220 yards between Monday and Tuesday and is moving north/northeast.

Experts say a substantial amount of lava is being diverted from the leading edge, which stalled 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road on October 30, and is instead feeding the active breakouts upslope. HVO scientists say in the next week or two it may become more clear which or if any breakout will become the new dominant flow front.

USGS says there is little to no activity at the stalled leading edge, which at its distal point measure about 6 inches in height. HVO scientists say their assessment Tuesday indicated the flow field is fluffing up quite a bit upslope -- reaching heights of 12 to 18 feet along Apaa Street.

USGS says the flow field is expanding as well -- growing to more than a half mile wide at the breakout 0.37 miles from Apaa Street, where the lobe is advancing in a more northerly direction than downslope.

Experts are closely watching the movement of this breakout, as there is concern it may follow a different path of steepest descent and may not reconnect with the existing leading edge downslope.

More details as they develop on Hawaii News Now.

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