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.
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.
Eruptive activity began to wane at the end of last week,with the lava fountains diminishing, then disappearing over the weekend. Views in the webcams showed a steady decrease in activity at fissure 3 over the course of several days.
At this point no lava appears to be emerging onto the surface, with only a few dribbles left in the lava flow to be seen as minor glows across the flank of the mauna.
Oddly Kilauea, after erupting continuously for over a year seems also to have paused. There is no longer any visible lava or even a glow within the Halemauʻmauʻu crater.
On the way home in the eve the red glow dominates the horizon. Going to work the next morning it is the plume on the skyline. The eruption is ever present.
When moving to the island fifteen years ago I had looked at the mauna and thought to myself… One day you will erupt, will it be during my time on the island? This though has occured to me many times in the intervening years… When hiking the lava flows in the saddle, when driving up and down Mauna Kea to work looking across at the many flows streaking the flanks of Mauna Loa. How many times have I looked up and wondered when? One day.
I am not certain what woke me up at one AM, but I was awake. Before going back to sleep I decided to check the satellite photos to see if I might get some telescope time before dawn. But what I found online had me totally awake and grabbing a couple batteries for the camera.
Mauna Loa has awoken.
I was soon driving out from the house to a point above the village with a clear view of the mauna. The whole southern sky an angry red over the village as I drove. I did not have to drive far, just a couple minutes from the house where you can find a clear view. Pulling off I set up the camera and shot.
I was not the only one out, half a dozen cars could be seen stopped along Waikoloa Road to view the eruption. The whole mauna is lit up red and it looks like the west flank is erupting, not just the caldera as Civil Defense currently insists. Just the clouds lit up on that side?
Life is intertesting.
Update: By dawn much of the caldera has flooded with lava. Scale is hard to see in the photos, you have to recall that the caldera is almost two miles across and three miles from end to end.
Update 9:11am: The eruption has already migrated to a series of fissures on the northeast flank. The typical Mauna Loa eruption script is a summit caldera eruption followed by a flank eruption a few days, or a few weeks later. We have just seen that happen in a few hours.
I am including a couple photos here taken by a co-worker as she commuted across the saddle this morning at dawn. You can already see the lava flows making their way into the saddle…