Lava Flow Threatens Pahoa, Hawaii

On June 27, a new lava flow emerged from Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano, flowing to the northeast at a rate varying from 2 meters per hour up to 15 meters per hour. In the months since, the "June 27 breakout" lava flow has crossed more than 12 miles and now threatens the small town of Pahoa. The molten rock has already claimed acres of forest, several roads, and small farm buildings, and buried the Pahoa Cemetery. Dozens of Pahoa residents have been evacuated ahead of the slow-moving disaster, as state and federal officials work to protect what they can and plan for the worst. If the flow continues as projected, dozens more houses and businesses are threatened, and a large section of Pahoa may be cut off from the rest of the island if the flow remains active and reaches the sea. [26 photos total]

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On October 26, 2014, lava from Kilauea Volcano's "June 27 breakout" flow continues to advance towards the northeast, approaching the small town of Pahoa, Hawaii. A portion of the front is still moving through the open field (shown here), while the leading tip of the flow has advanced through the Pahoa cemetery. (USGS HVO) #
On the morning of June 27, 2014, elevated pressure within Kilauea's Pu'u 'O'o cone reached a breaking point, with magma intruding through the cone and erupting from fissures on the northeast flank. These new vents fed a vigorous channelized flow that had reached about 1.5 km (0.9 miles) northeast of Pu'u 'O'o by 11 am. (USGS HVO) #
By July 18, the front of the June 27th lava flow, seen here as the silvery lava, surrounds what little remains of Pu'u Kahauale'a, a forested volcanic cone several hundred years old. (USGS HVO) #
On August 12, a skylight reveals the fluid lava stream within the main tube of the June 27 lava flow, revealing complex structure within the lava tube. The bright incandescent area is the fluid lava stream, which was slowly but steadily flowing through the tube. (USGS HVO) #
On August 6, the June 27 flow continues to advance at a brisk rate, reaching the forest boundary. (USGS HVO) #
August 22, a vigorous cascade of lava is visible through a skylight in the June 27 flow. The lava is fed from the vent on Pu'u 'O'o via a lava tube. (USGS HVO) #
August 12, the June 27 flow advances into the forest over the past week. The flow front at the time was 8.5 km (5.3 miles) northeast of the vent on Pu'u 'O'o. (USGS HVO) #
August 14. This collapse of a portion of the roof above the June 27 flow has produced a skylight, and a direct view of the fluid lava stream several meters beneath the surface. (USGS HVO) #
September 1, near the leading edge of the lava on the surface, a swiftly moving stream of lava pours into a deep ground crack (center). Pu'u 'O'o is at the top of the photograph. (USGS HVO) #
September 1, a closer look at the stream of lava pouring into the deep ground crack. (USGS HVO) #
October 10, a closer look at the narrow flow front. Kaohe Homesteads subdivision in the upper left portion of the image. (USGS HVO) #
On October 22, HVO geologists walk over the surface of the flow to track surface breakouts along a portion of the flow margin, about a kilometer (0.6 miles) upslope of the flow front. (USGS HVO) #
On October 24, Hawaii Electric Light Company crews enclose utility poles in insulating jackets and cinder/cement barriers, working to protect the poles along Pahoa's Cemetery Road from the encroaching lava flow. (USGS HVO) #
October 24. HVO geologists in a pasture adjoining Cemetery Road, mapping the flow front position. (USGS HVO) #
The June 27th lava flow crossed Apa'a Street/Cemetery Road at 3:50 AM, HST, Saturday morning, October 25, 2014. In this photo, which was taken at about 9 AM Saturday, the flow is moving from right to left, with burning asphalt visible along it's NW margin. A utility pole, far right, was surrounded by lava but remained standing at the time of the photo. The hope is that the protective insulation and cinder/cement barrier around the pole will prevent it from burning through. (USGS HVO) #
A typical portion of the pahoehoe flow margin near the flow front, just downslope of Cemetery Rd./Apa'a St. The horizontal incandescent cracks seen in the center and right portions of the photo indicate that the flow was inflating. Pahoehoe inflation is driven by continued supply of lava beneath the surface crust, which slowly raises the surface. (USGS HVO) #
October 25, a small shed is consumed by lava in the pasture between the Pahoa cemetery and Apa'a Street. (USGS HVO) #
October 25, the June 27th lava flow advances across the pasture between the Pahoa cemetery and Apa'a Street, surrounding a barbed wire fence. (USGS HVO) #
Lava flow inundates Pahoa Cemetery on October 26, 2014. (County of Hawaii) #
The June 27 lava flow covers most of Pahoa Cemetery on October 26, 2014. (County of Hawaii) #
The June 27 lava flow covers most of Pahoa Cemetery on October 26, 2014. (County of Hawaii) #
On October 26, an HVO geologist maps the margin of the June 27th lava flow in the open field below Apa'a Street/Cemetery Road. (USGS HVO) #
October 25, some of the flow front had the appearance of "slabby" pahoehoe, which is the type of lava in which the surface consists of numerous broken, overturned slabs. (USGS HVO) #
Some of the "slabby" pahoehoe presses against fencing that runs along the small road to Pahoa cemetery. (USGS HVO) #
On October 27, a wider view of the flow, showing its proximity to Pahoa Village Road. Pahoa Village Road spans the bottom portion of the photograph, Hawaii Electric Light Company trucks visible, working to protect utility poles. The flow front was heading towards a low spot on the Pahoa Village Road, between Apa'a St. and the post office (area at bottom center of this photo). This photo was taken at 11:30 am October 27, when the flow front was 540 meters (0.3 miles) from Pahoa Village Road. (USGS HVO) #
A Google Maps street view of the low point in Keaau-Pahoa Road, where geologists predict the June 27 flow is headed withing the next few days. The lava is approaching from the right side of the image. (Google Inc) #

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