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Lava remains stalled but breakouts continue

  • USGS / HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    This is a view of the flow looking northeast on Wednesday. Pahoa can be seen near the top of the photograph
  • but if one measured the temperature of the lava beneath the thin crust it would be close to 1140 Celsius (2080 F).
  • USGS / HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    A Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist samples lava using a rock hammer on Wedensday.
  • USGS / HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    This comparison of a photograph with a corresponding thermal image shows a typical lobe of pāhoehoe on the June 27th lava flow. The highest surface temperatures in this image are just under 900 Celsius (1650 F)
  • USGS / HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    Several skylights provided views into the lava tube Wednesday
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A pause in the advance of lava toward Pahoa continued for a fifth day Friday.

A Hawaii County Civil Defense overflight of the flow Friday morning again showed little activity at the front of the flow and no advancement since Sunday.

A small breakout advanced about 70 yards to the northeast from the north flank of the flow. But the breakout remains upslope of the flow front and does not pose a threat to area communities, officials said.

Other breakouts are closer to the Pu’u ‘O’o vent and midway along the flow route.

The front of the flow remains about 1.4 to 1.5 miles upslope from Apaa Street on the outskirts of Pahoa. It’s advance slowed over the weekend and stalled Sunday.

Scientists said the change in the rate of advancement appears to coincide with deflation at Kilauea volcano. Periods of deflation have caused decreases in lava flows in the past. 

But it’s also possible that other factors, such as a change in the tube system that brings the lava to the front of the flow, may also be responsible for the pause.

Scientists said it is not unusual for pahoehoe lava flows to slow down or stall. 

Because the lava has not advanced, scientists are not updating their forecast on when the flow could reach Pahoa. They said even though the lava’s advance has slowed, it remains a threat to Pahoa.

The flow has advanced 10.2 miles from its source at Pu’u ‘O’o crater since the current episode began on June 27. It’s total length of about 11.6 miles, including bends, makes it the longest flow in distance since the current eruption of Pu’u ‘O’o began, scientists said.

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