Although the Kilaoua volcano has been continuously erupting since 1983 (the Puu-Oo crater is active), the situation took a dangerous turn on May 3, 2018, when new cracks opened in the residential area of Lehalani Estates. Three weeks later, some cracks became less active, but several others appeared along the lower eastern rift zone, including north-east of Lehelani.
As of May 25, 2018, geologists from the US Geological Service recorded 23 cracks. One of the most active is the crack number 22, the lava of which formed a stream, reaching the southeast coast of the island of Hawaii. This lava flows into the ocean near the Park Mackenzie. Although the fact that the lava from Kilauea volcano reached the ocean, there is nothing unusual, this “entry point” has become new.
Using the OLI toolkit on NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite, it was possible to obtain this image of lava flows on the night of May 23rd. Although it was cloudy, a small gap in the clouds allowed to collect data. The image is based on observations in the near infrared range. The violet areas surrounding the streams are clouds that are illuminated from below. Also used was a daytime snapshot from OLI with information on the location of roads and shorelines.
Geologists from the Hawaiian Volcanic Observatory closely monitor eruptions from cracks. While seismometers and other ground-based instruments can track the underground movement of magma, it is impossible to predict with a high degree of accuracy how long a specific fracture will remain active or how much lava it will produce. In the coming weeks magma can continue to appear from new cracks or move between existing ones. According to Patrick Willey from the Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA), the eruption can also be concentrated in some of the central craters. It is not yet clear whether this is a new phase for Kilauea, or it is just a short-term escalation and a month later activity will again be concentrated in the crater of Puu-Oo.