The lava field created by ongoing Big Island eruptions would cov - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

The lava field created by ongoing Big Island eruptions would cover most of urban Honolulu

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The eruptions on the Big Island are a little tough to wrap your head around.

Twenty-five days after the first fissure opened in lower Puna, the eruption has produced a massive, 2,400 acre lava field, has created lava fountains as high as 300 feet, and has destroyed nearly 100 structures.

We know — that's a lot to comprehend. 

So to help you better understand the scope of this ongoing disaster, we looked for some ways to put the numbers associated with this eruption into perspective. 

How far do the flows reach? 

Eruptions in lower Puna start in Leilani Estates and continue downslope some three miles to the sea. 

That's a lot of land. In fact, if you overlay the current eruption flow on top of a map of urban Honolulu, the size of the lava field stretches from Cooke Street in Kakaako to Montserrat Avenue in Kapahulu.


How much land is covered by lava?

The 2,400 acres covered by lava is about the same size as eight Kapiolani parks (300 acres each).


How much lava is spewing?

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists say several eruptions along a two-mile line of fissures remain active, pumping out an incredible 40 to 60 cubic feet of lava per second.

That's about 180 standard-sized refrigerators being spit out of the ground — every minute. 

Put another way, the equivalent of 632 bathtubs of lava have been shooting from the ground each minute. 


How high are the lava fountains? 

The highest lava fountain seen so far during ongoing eruptions in lower Puna has been about 300 feet tall.

By comparison, Yellowstone's Old Faithful has an eruption height record of 185 feet.  


How tall are the summit explosions?

There have been a number of explosions at the summit of Kilauea, sending out ash plumes that have soared as high as 30,000 feet. 

Compare that to the top cruising altitude for most commercial jets, which is 33,000 to 42,000 feet.


How many people have been evacuated? 

Some 2,000 people have already evacuated from the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions, ground zero for the eruptions, and authorities say hundreds more may need to flee if lava cuts off key roads out of the area. 

To put that into perspective, the entire undergraduate enrollment number for Hawaii Pacific University is about 3,400 students.  


How long will it last?

There's no indication that the current eruption is going to stop anytime soon, but we can look at past eruptions to help put the potential timespan in prospective. 

Kilauea eruptions How long will the current eruption last? No one knows
Year Date of Outbreak Duration (days) Location Volume (cubic meters)
1750 (?) - - East rift 14,200,000
1790 (?) - - East rift 27,500,000
1790 November (?) - Caldera No lava flow
1823 Feb.-July Short Southwest rift 11,000,000
1832 Jan. 14 Short East rim of caldera (?)
1840 30-May 26 East rift 205,000,000
1868 2-Apr Short Kilauea Iki (?)
1868 April 2 (?) Short Southwest rift 183,000
1877 4-May 1 (?) Caldera wall (?)
1877 May 21 (?) - Keanakakoi (?)
1884 Jan. 22 1 East rift (?)
1885 March 80 (?) Caldera (?)
1894 Mar. 21 6+ Caldera (?)
1894 7-Jul 4 (?) Caldera (?)
1918 Feb. 23 14 Caldera 183,000
1919 Feb. 7 294 Caldera 25,200,000 (?)
1919 Dec. 21 221 Southwest rift 45,300,000
1921 Mar. 18 7 Caldera 6,400,000
1922 28-May 2 Makaopuhi and Napau (?)
1923 Aug 25 (?) 1 East rift 73,000
1924 10-May 17 Caldera No lava
1924 19-Jul 11 Halemaumau 234,000
1927 7-Jul 13 Halemaumau 2,300,000
1929 Feb. 20 2 Halemaumau 1,400,000
1929 25-Jul 4 Halemaumau 2,600,000
1930 Nov. 19 19 Halemaumau 6,200,000
1931 Dec. 23 14 Halemaumau 7,000,000
1934 Sept. 6 33 Halemaumau 6,900,000
1952 27-Jun 136 Halemaumau 46,700,000
1954 31-May 3 Halemaumau and caldera 6,200,000
1955 Feb. 28 88 East rift 87,600,000
1959 Nov. 14 36 Kilauea Iki 37,200,000
1960 Jan. 13 36 East rift 113,200,000
1961 Feb. 24 1 Halemaumau 22,000
1961 Mar. 3 22 Halemaumau 260,000
1961 10-Jul 7 Halemaumau 12,600,000
1961 Sept. 22 3 East rift 2,200,000
1962 Dec. 7 2 East rift 310,000
1963 Aug. 21 2 East rift 800,000
1963 Oct. 5 1 East rift 6,600,000
1965 Mar. 5 10 East rift 16,800,000
1965 Dec. 24 <1 East rift 850,000
1967 Nov. 5 251 Halemaumau 80,300,000
1968 Aug. 22 5 East rift 130,000
1968 Oct. 7 15 East rift 6,600,000
1969 Feb. 22 6 East rift 16,100,000
1969 24-May 867 East rift 176,700,000
1971 Aug. 14 <1 Caldera 9,100,000
1971 Sept. 24 5 Caldera and southwest rift 7,700,000
1972 Feb. 4 455 East rift 119,600,000
1973 5-May <1 East rift 1,200,000
1973 Nov. 10 30 East rift 2,700,000
1973 Dec. 12 203 East rift 28,700,000
1974 19-Jul 3 Caldera and east rift 6,600,000
1974 Sept. 19 <1 Caldera 10,200,000
1974 Dec. 31 <1 Southwest rift 14,300,000
1975 Nov. 29 <1 Caldera 220,000
1977 Sept. 13 18 East rift 32,900,000
1979 Nov. 16 1 East rift 580,000
1982 Apr. 31 <1 Caldera 500,000
1982 Sept. 25 <1 Caldera 3,000,000
1983 Jan. 3 on going East rift (Puu Oo) ongoing
SOURCE: UH-Manoa

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