Lava Report: Is the Flow Starting on a New Path?

Both Hawaii Volcano Observatory and Civil Defense reported this morning that the lava flow’s leading edge remained “stalled” half a mile north of the Highway 130/Pahoa Village Road intersection.  But they also reported activity upslope. HVO, for instance, noted  that “breakouts along the north margin of the flow approximately 1.5 – 2.5 km (1.0 – 1.5 miles) upslope of the flow front continue to advance.”

That advance was made much clearer by the satellite-based map released this afternoon (below), showing new lava breakouts as of 11:30 a.m today.  That map shows a large new tongue of lava  headed almost due north. If that tongue joins up with the nearest matked “path of steepest descent,”  continues along that path, doesn’t stall out again, and the marked path, based on 1983 measurements, is accurate–four big “ifs”–then it could miss Pahoa completely, cut Highway 130 in the Maku`u area and then threaten parts of Hawaii Paradise Park (See small-scale map, bottom).

“The most active parts of the flow were in an area 400 to 900 m (440 to 980 yards) behind the stalled tip of the flow above Pahoa Marketplace, and at the front of a flow lobe that branches off to the north about 3 km (2 miles) behind the stalled flow tip,” noted the text accompanying the new map.” Other active breakouts on the distal part of the flow were scattered between these two areas.”

But the map also showed that one of those “other breakouts” was  a much smaller tongue that appears to be reaching toward another path of steepest descent that would take it straight through Pahoa Market Place.

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