Update: The eruption described below stopped 3/09/2011.
Yes, I made my way out to the new eruption site as soon as I heard of it. I had monitored Puu Oo’s activity all day Saturday March 5th, 2011.
First I will do my usual and stress to anyone reading this that hiking out there isn’t advisable. I know the area extremely well. This isn’t the time for first time visits. There are many hidden fissures that one needs to be aware of. I stayed at the far eastern end of the growing fissure. Besides that, it’s a very long hike over nearly every type of lava one can imagine. I carry everything one could need. Approaching the main vents wasn’t safe to do by foot so, I happily settled for the eastern end. This is located next to Napau crater.
By now you’ve all seen the fantastic footage from the USGS and other helicopter views. My images are from the eastern edge since I chose not to venture further to that great crack the lava was flowing into. But, my images do show the progression of the eastern fissure. I was able to witness several hundred feet of fissures opening before sunrise. This was in the area of cinder that surrounds old large tree molds.
It’s a beautiful place that few ever see due to its location. The fissures would open with great booming sounds that shook the entire area. A loud crack could be heard and then flames would shoot out in a line. Soon after a curtain of lava would rise into the night sky. This was right next to an area of forest. The spattering of lava several times reached heights well over 100′. The lower one quickly grew into a perched lava pond and then progressed into a large spattering vent. One part of the fissure further to the west roared like a jet engine for hours.
The ground shook constantly, making it difficult to do long exposures. I did manage to get many nice and crisp images. I loaded many similar images as I haven’t had the time to narrow them down even more. It wasn’t easy to stop shooting photos as the activity was non-stop. But, I stopped often just to take it all in. You never know when eruptions like this will just stop.
I had an absolutely peaceful time out there until the swarm of helicopters arrived. Around 8:40am the far eastern vents stopped and all of a sudden I could hear the birds chirping. It was like someone flicked a switch and turned it off. This gave me a reason to leave as I had a very long hike back.
Of course the activity would resume later that day and now the far western part of the fissure is going strong. I’m hoping to have my videos on Youtube soon.
For more frequent updates on my activities, follow my twitter page.
Overall it was a fantastic experience for me. I can deal with the long hike and the blisters on my feet. Again, do not try to hike to this eruption!! This is nothing like a surface flow on the flats or an ocean entry. Activity at the source is a whole different world. It’s always best to know the area extremely well before eruptions like this happen. You need to know escape routes and one has to be able to recognize warning signals of impending danger. I always put safety first. I miss some great photo opportunities due to this but, no photo is worth your life.
I hope you enjoy my images as they give a different perspective from what has been on the news. Feel free to comment via either the image its self on my website or here about which ones I should offer as prints. I’m a one person show so, it does take me a while to process and catch up on everything. I do have several non volcano galleries to add-on my website. This of course took priority. I hope to have prints available for the next Kona Stroll March 20, 2011. I will be in front of the Palace on Ali’i Dr. Click on the link below to visit the Kamoamoa Fissure Eruption gallery.
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