Volcano Update

Madam Pele, the Hawaiian Volcano Goddess, continues to be restless and is sending lava down the slopes into the ocean on the Southeast side of Hawaii Island. The active eruption began on May 3 and has continued since.

For those of us in the Kona region on the west side of the island, the only major effect to date has been heavier than usual volcanic smog (“vog”) driven to the west by the prevailing trade winds. There have been no apparent effects on the coffee trees in Kona.

Lava flows from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island

Many of our neighbors to the east have not been as fortunate. Through June 3, 117 homes had been destroyed, but Hawaii County authorities announced on June 5 that “hundreds more” were lost the night before as a massive lava flow emptied into Kapoho Bay (see this 6/5/2018 New York Times article for more). Thousands of Puna district residents have been evacuated, many now living in tents and vehicles. Lava has covered an area of more than 8 square miles. Low grade earthquakes and isolated summit explosions continue. Two buildings at the Puna Geothermal Venture have been destroyed and the rest of the PGV facility (which produces 25-30% of the island’s power) is threatened. Much of Volcano National Park remains closed.

All of us hope that Pele quiets down soon. We will keep you posted.


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