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Volcano Awareness Month continues as Kilauea lava nears another Kalapana home

A thermal and standard composite photo showing lava approaching Kalapana Gardens and the Hawaii county lava flow viewing area on Jan. 6, 2011. Photo: USGS/HVO (Click photo to enlarge.)

An active lava flow from Kilauea volcano is lending real-life drama to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park's 2nd annual Volcano Awareness Month.

The month-long January program is organized each year by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) to help visitors understand and respect the volcanoes that have created our island paradise. Less expected on the schedule this year: lava from Kilauea volcano’s east rift zone flow near Kalapana again threatening to engulf a home in its path.

As of this morning, lava was less than 300 feet from a home on the outskirts of Kalapana Gardens, built on the hardened lava of a 1990 flow. If destroyed, it would be the third home in the area lost to the lava in six months.

Kilauea volcano is currently erupting in two locations: on the east rift zone, feeding the Kalapana flow; and at the summit, where a steam and ash plume continues to rise from an eruptive vent within the east wall of Halemaumau crater.

HAWAII magazine reported last week on Big Island Civil Defense’s extension of the visitor viewing area at Kalapana, offering closer views of the lava flow. The site is now open.

As part of Volcano Awareness Month, HVO scientists are leading “After Dark in the Park” local-style talk-story sessions at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in January at the Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park entrance fees apply—currently $10 per vehicle, or $5 per walk-in visitor—with a requested $1 donation for the program.

Here are the “After Dark in the Park” talk-story sessions for the rest of the month:

• Jan. 18: “Kilauea volcano’s east rift eruption: 28 years and counting”

Kilauea’s prodigious east rift zone eruption recently entered its 28th year. In its early years, spectacular lava fountains erupted episodically from the area’s Puu Oo vent. More than 20 years of continuous lava effusion since then has built a vast plain of hardened pahoehoe (smooth and ropy lava) stretching from the east rift zone to the Pacific Ocean. Geologist Tim Orr will review highlights from the ongoing eruptions and reveal the latest developments on Kilauea’s east rift zone.

• Jan. 25: “Frank Perret: The man who set the stage for HVO’s work today”

Fresh from volcanic eruptions in the Canary Islands and Italy, volcanologist Frank A. Perret arrived in Hawaii in 1911 to assist with the building of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, founded by fellow volcanologist Thomas A. Jaggar. Perret’s work would set the stage for the next 100 years of continuous volcano monitoring at Kilauea. USGS HVO scientist-in-charge Jim Kauahikaua will share the story of Perret and how his early observations of Kilauea’s lava lakes and fountains are relevant to today’s Halemaumau crater summit eruption.

For more information on Volcano Awareness Month, call (808) 985-6014 or (808) 985-6011, or visit the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website.

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Check out these related posts:
Visitors to get closer look at Kilauea volcano lava flow
Hawaii’s still very active Kilauea volcano sends lava flow into Kalapana
Kilauea volcano’s Puu Oo vent sending lava flow into ocean edging Big Island

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