Kilauea Volcano: Examining Hazards from Latest Redirected Flow Event

According to The Honolulu Advertiser article, Geologists with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are using newly available LIDAR data to help supplement previous DTMs to model possible paths of the lava. Unfortunately, modeling lava is not like modeling water! The latest eruptions have created an elevated lava "flume" that is conveying the lava in this new direction. As the lava spills over the sides of this lava channel, it cools on the sides and builds it up higher and higher. So far this network of elevated channels has carried flows as far as 3 1/2 miles from the erupting fissure, still well short of the town.

An interesting portion of the article discusses the considerations given to diverting lava flow if it gets to that point. Government officials are concerned with the legal liability of such an action if someone’s property is destroyed by the diversion. Also, they mention the cultural issues that would be raised by such a plan.