May-June 1998

May - The lava benches have continued growing, disappearing, and growing again. The lava is so far down in the Pu'u O'o crater now that it is hard to see even from a helicopter, unless the wind is just right. Even from our house we only rarely see the glow that used to dominate the night horizon.

Mid-May: There were some big breakouts (surface flows that break out of the lava tubes)that sliced their way through the bordering forest. Ken and Jenda got some great shots of new tree molds forming where lava flows around standing trees (see right). Below is a pic of Ken filming the breakouts, moments before he had to pack up and move because the heat became too intense and the lava was getting a little too close!

June 14th - Spectacular bench collapse witnessed by Jenda and the HVO geologists! It happened at dusk. They first noticed some bubbling and activity along the bench, but were surprised minutes later by the ground-shaking booms and thumps that got people running for higher ground. Within seconds, the bench began caving off and tremendous explosions sent rocks and lava flying into the air. Lightning bolts were also generated at first by the big cloud of steam and ash. It went on for a few minutes and soon the bench was mostly gone. Luckily no one was down there!

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