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Lava flow continues to advance toward Royal Gardens

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 6:22 p.m. HST, Sep 22, 2011

A new lava flow on the east side of Puu Oo crater advanced more than 2.3 miles downslope as of this afternoon and was headed southeast toward the Royal Gardens subdivision, scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

The fast-moving lava is being fed from a fissure on the upper southeast flank of Puu Oo that opened at about 2 a.m. Wednesday. At about 4 a.m. today, a second branch formed to the west of the initial east flank lava flow, scientists said.

The flows are contained within the Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve and are not an immediate threat to property. However, scientists say if the flow continues its advance to the southeast it could pose a threat to the Royal Gardens subdivision in a few days.

Royal Gardens has been overrun by lava several times and has no paved-road access. Much of the subdivision is abandoned and only a few structures remain.

Puu Oo's latest outbreak began Tuesday with an overflow on the west flank of the crater. That flow has mostly stopped since Wednesday's southeast breakout.

Lava also flowed over the crater rim last week, but the flows stopped over the weekend.

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