The Sciences

Lava Flow Update for December 16, 2014: Fogo, Kilauea, Holuhraun

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiDec 16, 2014 6:46 PM


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Updates on some lava flow-dominated eruptions from around the globe! Cape Verde The eruption at Fogo in the Cape Verde islands continues with lava flows inundating the towns below. The eruption might be waning, but it appears that more evacuations are coming and another 2,000 likely to have to move to temporary shelters as the lava flows continue to move towards (and within) the villages within the Fogo caldera. So far, in many fewer days, this eruption has caused more damage to the settlements on the island than the 1995 eruption. The humanitarian effort to support these volcano refugees is growing as, in many cases, they will not have homes when they can come back to the area. The Cape Verdean government is planning on adding a new VAT to help pay for the reconstruction of the island after the eruption ends, but international assistance is likely going to be needed as well. If you're interested in helping with the humanitarian crisis on Fogo, check out the Fogo Fund or the Red Cross/Red Crescent. Many people have taken to creating makeshift shelters on higher ground to avoid the lava flows - clearly not permanently sustainable situations. Richard Roscoe from Photovolcanica visited Fogo and got some great images of the eruption, showing the dark grey plume from the eruption along with the streams of lava being produced. He shot video of the twin strombolian vents that have been active on Fogo, with lava fountains throwing ash and bombs skyward (see above). Some of the shots are stunning, where lava flows have run up against and overtaken the walls and snapped utility posts in the settlements within the caldera. Much of the damage to the infrastructure will take years to fix (if ever), as major roadways have been cut off by the thick lava flows. Hawaii Meanwhile in Hawaii, the lava flow that threatened the village of Pahoa now has a new target - Highway 130. The intersection between 130 and the Pahoa Road has a marketplace and lava could reach the area in the next week or so (with about 2.3 km to go). Right now the flow is advancing at ~300 meters/day. You can see some of the latest updates on the flows on the Hawaii Volcano Observatory website. Iceland In our final stop on the tour of lava flow eruptions, the Holuhraun eruption in Iceland is also still going strong having recently passed on the 100 day mark. It is remarkable how constant this eruption has been, both in terms of the lava flows it has generated but also the continuous subsidence that has come with it. The same can be said for the near-constant strong seismicity that has come with the eruption, likely caused by both the intrusion of new magma into the crust beneath the lava field and the slow subsidence of the caldera floor at Barðarbunga under the ice cauldrons. The lava flow field from Holuhraun now covers over 78 km^2 - you can see some great images of a recent overflight of the area by Ragnar Axelsson that shows the channelized lava flows spreading out into lava fans as they reach flatter ground. The glow from the eruption is clearly visible on both of the webcams pointed towards Holuhraun (weather permitting), so be sure to check those out.

Video: Richard Roscoe / Photovolcanica, used by permission

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