HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The numbers are staggering.
Scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory have been studying the data from the 2018 Kilauea eruption for months, pouring over hundreds of pages of data that detail how molten lava forever changed the landscape of lower Puna.
It’s an exercise in learning from the past that will likely continue for years ― but the scientists say they’ve already reached at least a few conclusions.
First, there’s the volume. Scientists say Kilauea spewed out more than 1 billion cubic yards of lava during the eruption ― a figure that’s probably a little hard to visualize.
To put it into perspective, Interstate 90 is the single-longest highway in the United States. It crisscrosses the country from Boston to Seattle, and the 3,000-mile drive would take days to finish even if you non-stop.
The volume of lava that came out of the ground during the 2018 eruption would cover two lanes of Interstate 90 from coast to coast ― but we aren’t talking about covering it with a simple layer of pavement.
It would cover two lanes of that highway, from coast to coast, in a slab of rock more than 70 feet high.
Put another way, according to the scientists at HVO: If you used Aloha Stadium as a cereal bowl, you could fill it with the lava from the 2018 Kilauea eruption more than 1,000 times.
As a result, about 875 acres of new land were created by lava ocean entries across the coastal areas of lower Puna.
For reference, the size of Ala Moana Beach Park on Oahu is about 100 acres. Imagine nine freshly-made Ala Moana Beach Parks suddenly lining Honolulu's south shore, and you have an approximation of what the new landscape in places like Pohoiki.
In all, nearly 14 square miles of land were inundated by lava flows that reached 8 stories high in some places, and more than 700 dwellings that were in the path of the flow were destroyed during the eruption.