Lava Prediction, 5 October 20:00

The map is usually updated every two days and the helicopter flew today (in addition to tour helicopters) but the map hasn’t been updated since the third.  Quoting the HVO Kilauea update site, which was last updated at 08:15 this morning, “A Civil Defense overflight this morning observed that the flow front has advanced approximately 90 m (100 yards) since yesterday.”

Because the distances are approximate, and unless I am outside noting the time Chopper 1 flies over my house, I cannot calculate an accurate speed for the flow.  It doesn’t matter much. If it keeps moving, the speed will become important.  It could stop completely, or it could advance at three feet an hour, or it could get a hot rock injection and begin moving a little faster…say a mile an hour.  If it started to speed up after the morning flight, it could theoretically get to Pahoa in a couple of hours instead of a couple of months.  Wouldn’t THAT be interesting!

Anyway, they generally update the map every two days using the morning data, so we can assume it moved ~300 feet in ~24 hours.  That means it has doubled it’s speed of advance since last week to about 12.5 feet an hour.  Just a wee bit faster and it could get to Pahoa by Halloween.

However….the flow is coupled to a deflationary tilt at the vent which means the level of hot soup in the kettle is going down – probably because it’s leaking out toward us.  But when it gets below the new vent again, it will stop again, a new plug will form, and it will have to inflate once more in order to resume. Or not.

There is more.  Mauna Loa seems to be slowly filling up again. Without boring everyone with details, at some point WAAAAAY down there, the sea floor above the earth’s crust is being compressed about 8 km by the weight of Mauna Loa. The more Mauna Loa fills up, the more compression but the fact that it IS filling up means the pressure of the underlying magma is greater than the weight of Mauna Loa.  It also hints, to me at least, that based upon historical data, that a well-informed person would click on this link and read it:  http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2012/3104/fs2012-3104.pdf

Back to the map.  I don’t want to wait two or three days between visual updates, so I am going to start marking the extent of the flow advance once a day.  I won’t know the width or direction, but I can come real close to forward motion and calculate the most probable direction.

This is a test….or, more correctly, a science experiment. The lava should have been about here 12 hours ago, but no guarantees – it might well be twice as far by morning.  (There is a little red dot…just click the picture a few times until it becomes visible.)

5 OCT 08:00

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