Temperature of cooling lava rock still tops 700 degrees as road clearing work continues

Temperature of cooling lava rock still tops 700 degrees as road clearing work continues
Work to clear Highway 132 has been slow-going since the eruption. (Source: Hawaii Tracker)

KAPOHO, Hawaii Island (HawaiiNewsNow) - This week, HVO geologists measured temperatures and documented rock layers exposed as sections of Highway 132 are “ripped” by road crews.

Construction crews have been working to reopen the highway that was buried by lava from fissure 8 during the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption.

Researchers say, in places the rock is incredibly dense and has to be slowly broken apart.

HVO geologists documented rock layers exposed in this road cut, noting the textures (density and vesicularity) and temperatures along a vertical line. USGS photo by C. Parcheta,
HVO geologists documented rock layers exposed in this road cut, noting the textures (density and vesicularity) and temperatures along a vertical line. USGS photo by C. Parcheta,

This dense rock is interpreted by HVO geologists to be some of the last lava that erupted and solidified within the fissure 8 channel.

Geologist say, the drill bit used to hammer the rock into pieces, gets hot from the solidified lava, which is still at 752 degrees Fahrenheit, occasionally causing the bit to turn purple from the intense heat.

Once they are pried from the ground, the boulders lose most of their heat over the course of a day.

Using a thermal camera to measure the temperature of rock exposed in this road cut, HVO geologists determined that the void (in center of image above the glove) in this pāhoehoe flow was 300 degrees Celsius (around 570 degrees Fahrenheit). USGS photo by C. Parcheta
Using a thermal camera to measure the temperature of rock exposed in this road cut, HVO geologists determined that the void (in center of image above the glove) in this pāhoehoe flow was 300 degrees Celsius (around 570 degrees Fahrenheit). USGS photo by C. Parcheta

Officials are hoping to complete the road work by Oct. 5.

If they do meet that deadline, they’ll qualify for 100 percent federal reimbursement.

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