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Small Explosive Events at Halema‘uma‘u Crater Wow Visitors

July 24, 2014

Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, has no schedule, and thus timing is everything at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Lucky visitors, volunteers, and park staff  on Wednesday, July 24, 2014 watched as the southeastern wall of the Overlook crater, in Halemaʻumaʻu  Crater, collapsed and fell into the summit lava lake …twice! One collapse occurred just after 10 a.m., and the second around 1:45 p.m. Mahalo to the  USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory for providing video, images and information.

 

 

spatter cam

Just after 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 24, 2014), the southeastern wall of the Overlook crater, in Halemaʻumaʻu, collapsed and fell into the summit lava lake. This triggered a small explosive event that threw spatter bombs onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu at the site of the visitor overlook, closed since 2008. This image is a still taken from the webcam positioned on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu at that location, showing spatter in the air directly in front of the camera. (Photo and text courtesy of USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory).

The lava fragments ejected ranged in size from dust-sized particles up to spatter bombs about 70 cm (~30 inches) across. The larger clasts – the bombs – dotted the ground around the tourist overlook and webcam, giving the area a look reminiscent of a cow pasture.

The lava fragments ejected ranged in size from dust-sized particles up to spatter bombs about 70 cm (~30 inches) across. The larger clasts – the bombs – dotted the ground around the visitor overlook and webcam, giving the area a look reminiscent of a cow pasture.  (Photo and text courtesy of USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory).

As has been seen with almost all previous explosive events at Halemaʻumaʻu since 2008, the spatter that was ejected was coated in dust and filled with small lithic fragments – clear evidence of the involvement of lithic wall rock. The knife is 12 cm (4.5 in) long. (Image courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory)

As has been seen with almost all previous explosive events at Halemaʻumaʻu since 2008, the spatter that was ejected was coated in dust and filled with small lithic fragments – clear evidence of the involvement of lithic wall rock. The knife is 12 cm (4.5 in) long. (Image  and text courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory)

 Spatter landed on wooden fencing laying on the ground at the closed tourist overlook, igniting it in a few places. (Image and text courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory)

Spatter landed on wooden fencing laying on the ground at the closed visitor overlook, igniting it in a few places. (Image and text courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory)

The part of the Overlook crater wall that collapsed is evident in the center of this photo by its white color. (Image and text courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Obsevatory)

The part of the Overlook crater wall that collapsed is evident in the center of this photo by its white color. (Image and text courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano  Observatory)

A park volunteer reported that he and visitors who witnessed the morning explosion across the crater at Jaggar Museum overlook were treated to a “rocket burst” of lava spatter that cleared the crater walls (and scorched wooden fencing at Halema‘uma‘u Overlook), and a dramatic cloud of ash in the volcanic gas plume.  No one was hurt, because Halema‘uma‘u Overlook, and 4.72 miles (about 40%) of Crater Rim Drive, have been closed since March 2008 to protect visitors, employees, and volunteers. It’s no fun breathing volcanic gas, nor is it any fun to be clobbered by two-and-a-half  foot lava bombs!

This photo shows the afternoon ash cloud, triggered by another small explosive event in Halema‘uma‘u Crater. NPS Photo/Nicolyn Charlot

This photo shows the afternoon ash cloud, triggered by another small explosive event in the Overlook crater, within Halema‘uma‘u Crater. NPS Photo/Nicolyn Charlot

 

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