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Feb 18th
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Home National & State Parks Other NPs Update: Hawai‘i Lava Flow Stops; Rangers to Reopen Part of Road

Update: Hawai‘i Lava Flow Stops; Rangers to Reopen Part of Road

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Lava has stopped flowing from Hawai‘i's Kamoamoa Fissure Eruption, and park rangers planned to reopen the upper six miles of Chain of Craters Road beginning Friday, March 11, 2011.

"The flow has abated for now," Ranger Jim Gale, chief of interpretation for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, told OldWestNewWest.com Travel & History Magazine. "This is an active volcanoe, however, and the road could close again at any time. But right now, everything has come to an equilibrium."

The road will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily as conditions allow. Permitted backcountry hikers may access coastal trails from the Ka`u Desert trailhead. The Hilina Pali Road and Kulanaokuaiki Campground will remain closed.

The Kamoamoa Fissure Eruption, part of the Kilauea volcano and located eight miles east of the summit, began Saturday, March 5, 2011. Lava stopped flowing from the vents Wednesday afternoon, March 9.

The potential for resumption of volcanic activity remains, the park service stressed. Scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continue to monitor conditions and keep park rangers posted of any changes.

Park visitors are not able to see the results of the lava flow because the area is remove and not visible from the park's Visitor Center.

Gale said that visitors can see lava flow photo displays at the Visitor Center, and sometimes there are live web cams to view.

And something else: New rocks.

"Sometimes I'll hold up a rock and I'll ask someone, ‘when did you last eat lunch? See this rock? This rock is newer than that,'" he said.

Gale was referring to rocks, cooled lava, actually, that rangers just brought in from the flow for visitors to see.

Fissures had been feeding a lava flow that extends nearly two miles from its source; near the fissure. The flow was hot, ropy "pahoehoe," but at its terminus, the flow turned to a clinkery jumble of "‘a‘a," two kinds of flows.

Before it stopped, the flow volume was calculated at 2.5 million cubic meters per day, five times more than Kilauea has been putting out from the east rift during the past several years.

Lava flows have covered 162 acres of park land. East rift zone sulfur dioxide gas emissions are at 10,000 tonnes per day, significantly elevated above the 300 tonnes per day measured during the past several months and as recently as March 5, prior to the fissure eruption.

Kilauea volcano has been active for the last 28 years.

For more information, visit the park's web site at

To see our earlier coverage, click here.

National & State Parks