"Pu`u O`o Eruption" Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by raraavis

Pu`u O`o has been erupting since 1983, the longest continual eruption in the history of Kilauea Volcano. According to the volcano scientists, it has the distinction of being the longest-lived rift zone eruption in the 200-year-long historic record of Kilauea Volcano. To put matters in perspective, volcanoes typically erupt for one month or less. Since 1983, Volcanoes National Park has gained 560 acres of new land.

Flowing lava and steam vents are best viewed at end of Chain of Craters Road, which is on the eastern coast of Kilauea Volcano. It is 25 miles of switch back road off Crater Rim Drive – circular main road in the national park.

A little googling led me to the Hawaii Center for Volcanology. Pretty cool stuff.

I had wondered why you only see red lava in some spots. Lava flows now typically feed from the vents through lava tubes to the ocean, with few surface flows in between.

Another question… You may be wondering what happens when molten lava interacts with the sea? Well, as indicated above, new lava has moved down the south flank of Kilauea through well-established lava tubes to the coastal plain during much of this eruption. Much of the lava from the tube system enters directly into the ocean and new land is built up (some of which then slides into the sea). In the process, a spectacular steam plume is created. This steam cloud is composed of predominantly water vapor, but also has a significant amount of SO2 (derived from S in the lava) and Cl (derived from sea water) in it, as well as tiny shards of volcanic glass. This situation makes viewing the eruption up-close hazardous to your health and contributes to the volcanic smog ("vog") that has plagued the southern parts of the Big Island (and other parts of the state) during this and other eruptions.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Volcano, lava, steam
  • Cons:Cons? What cons?
  • In a nutshell:Life thrives even in lava land
  • Last visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Jan 2006
  • Intro Updated Jan 8, 2006
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