Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists get fresh lava samples as close to the vent as possible. Once the sample is scooped from the pāhoehoe lobe, it is quickly quenched in a bucket of water to stop the growth of any crystals and to preserve the composition of the liquid lava. Once cooled, the sample is sent first to UH Hilo for quick analysis of a few components and prepared for a fuller analysis of its chemical components by a lab on the mainland. These data are used, with HVO’s geophysical monitoring data, as another way to assess any changes that may be occurring within Kīlauea volcano. (USGS)
The following photos were released by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (USGS) (Dated March 17, 2015) . Note: these photos were not taken in areas currently accessible to the public. (You can visit the official website of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park for current information on the areas of Kilauea that are open to public).
After establishing an appropriate location to resume VLF measurements over the June 27th lava tube to estimate the cross-sectional area of lava within the tube, HVO geologists make the measurements, sometimes requiring walking through volcanic gases. (USGS)
The VLF radio wave, transmitted from the Lualualei Naval Base on Oʻahu, is received by the handheld device. The numbers are read and recorded. These data will allow the estimation of the cross-sectional area of lava within the tube. (USGS)
First recognized in Kalapana in 1990, these pāhoehoe flows appear bluish with dense, glassy crusts. These lavas are generally observed later in the life of an inflated pāhoehoe flow. The degassed nature of the lava promotes the formation of solid glass, rather than bubbly, crusts. The bluish color may be the result of the natural iron and magnesium in the lava. (USGS)
Most of the ground work today was to establish the location and estimated size of the two lava tubes coming out of the June 27th vent area on the north flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone. The area in this image is between the cone’s north flank and a perched pond that formed last summer (arc-shaped feature on the right side of the image). The visual image shows the general location of the main tube before it splits downslope. (USGS)
This infrared view of the area in the previous photo shows that the area is still quite hot and the tube location is possibly obscured although the few hotter strands may be indicators of the tube’s location. (USGS)