The First Few Hours

Watching the recent and repeated eruptions in the Kilauea caldera has made an interesting bit of info clear… The first few hours are the most spectacular.

Erupting lava in the first hours of the September 2023 eruption of Kilauea
Erupting lava in the first hours of the September 2023 eruption of Kilauea

Months of inflation Kilauea had stored large quanities of gas and built up a considerable amount of pressure, enough pressure to lift the megatons of rock above the magma chamber and cause the entire summit region to swell outwards.

Beween eruptions USGS geologists and armchair vulcanologists like myself keep an eye on the tiltmeters as the pressure in the volcano builds, awaiting the time that accumulating magma and increased pressure bursts through the overlying rock to begin a new eruptive cycle.

At 15:13 HST Sunday afternoon that moment came.

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Volcano Nights

With my folks on island it was time for another volcano run. We executed a plan I have used a few times before… Booking a night or two in Kilauea Military Camp right on the caldera rim. Two nights this time.

A lava lake in Kilauea Caldera
A lava lake in Kilauea Caldera

The drive from Hilo was wet, heavy rain much of the way. The park was much the same as we ran from the car to the visitor center in another downpour.

Photographic conditions were just bad, high winds had a constant blowing mist over the caldera. I never set up the little telescope this time, not wanting to subject it to the damp abuse it stayed safely in the case. Instead I simply used a long telephoto on the camera, something I could tuck into my jacket when the mist swept over.

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