April 1997

April 3rd- Lava finally made its reappearance at the surface 3 days ago, but it wasn't till today that some big flows broke out on the surface. After more than a month, the slowly rising lava in Pu`u O`o crater finally made it to the surface in some of the old collapse pits at the base of the cone. Volcanologists from HVO made it quickly to the site in time to see the lava overflow one pit and spill into another. While attempting to sample from a lower skylight on the old tube, the HVO crew heard a sound like freight train coming down the tube and left quickly for safer ground. Upon returning a few minutes later they found that the sound was caused by lava breaking its way through the clogged up passages of the old tube system. Today, fairly large flows were seen emerging from the lava tubes not too far away from the base of the cone.

April 11 - We finally got out on the ground with the HVO crews. Carl Thornber has set up a remote video camera to keep an eye on the lava pond from back at HVO. The lava flows outside the lava pond are very active - there is some low fountaining at the Episode 51 vent (once a big pit, now a little lava pond), some lava falls, plus both a`a and shelly pahoehoe flows on the surface. Pretty wild stuff. Flows still haven't gone far enough to be visible from the road, but they are burning forest along the western edge of the flow field. NPS fire crews are keeping an eye on the fires. Here's some still images from our video:

An a`a flow in the foreground streaming from the new lava ponds. Notice also the shelly pahoehoe overflows and Pu`u O`o in the background.

Shelly pahoehoe toe

Lava falls near new vent (old episode 51 pit) outside of Pu`u O`o.

Close-up of lava fountaining from vent at base of Pu`u O`o.

Carl Thornber setting up a remote video camera on the rim of Pu`u O`o to monitor activity in the lava lake.

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