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Kim

Lava watch

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Kim

This development is slightly disturbing. It may mean nothing, or it may mean the end of gardening in Leilani Estates. The future is unknowable. Past performance does not necessarily predict future performance when it comes to volcanoes. USGS is tracking movement daily with flyovers and aerial photographs. http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/

post-216-0-33380300-1409447109_thumb.jpgn

I'm having lots of inner debates. Do nothing. Pack up a trailer and move all house contents to a storage facility in Hilo. Do nothing. Buy a boat for ocean access in case the highway is cut off. Do nothing. Lift the entire house off the pier foundations and move it to a safe location. Do nothing. What will I feel if the house and garden are inundated with lava and I am left with a storage space full of used furniture and kitchen items?

The thing is, moving the house or its contents doesn't "save" my reason for owning land in Leilani Estates. Moving the garden is impractical and pointless. If the flow goes across Hwy 130, cutting of road access, they may open Chain of Craters Road, giving access -- but changing a 30-minute trip to Hilo into something more like 90 minutes or more. That would be better than the house and garden being consumed by lava, but it would really change the character of life there.

A volcanic flow cannot be effectively diverted. The whole island is layer upon layer of lava flows; to state the obvious, paradise exists here because of past lava flows. Madame Pele gives and she takes away. I've always known from day one that Pele might reclaim her land from me, but I'd always hoped it would be long after my time on earth.

In the end, maybe nothing happens, but this is an interesting mental exercise. what would you do?

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Pedro 65

Kim, is Leilani estates higher elevation than where its currently flowing?, looks like it is on the map, if I where in Kaohe homestead I'd be making future plans thats for sure, and again only by looking at the map the Southern blocks on Leilani look to be "higher elevation", esp the Sth/East, If I lived there, "I would stay", but its easy to say that when I live half a world away, hope it soon goes deep underground all the way to the ocean.

Pete :)

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Really full garden

Kim , I live on the slope of an active volcano.We have daily eruptions and sometimes the lava flows in my direction.It is like a very large neon sign when I look out.When it rains I can hear massive explosions when water flows into the crater.

I knew the risks when I built my dream home there. I am always ready to leave with my dogs if needed.

There are risks everywhere.Enjoy your house and garden. Life is too short to worry about things you have no control over.

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bgl

Kim, thanks for posting and adding your comments. Probably lots of people here in lower Puna with thoughts along the same lines. And about diverting the flow - I recall reading about an attempt to do this during a Mauna Loa eruption quite a few years ago (in order to protect Hilo), and I believe the conclusion was that it's feasible from a practical point with a smaller flow, using earthmoving machines and digging trenches and thus lead the flow in a different direction. And the current flow is NOT a massive flow, so it's probably doable. What may prevent it from happening, though, is another conclusion from way back then: liability issues if the flow crosses land and destroys property that it clearly would not have done if not diverted. So I think the authorities will just let it keep going, wherever it wants to go...

Pete, some numbers: Pu'u O'o, the site of the actual eruption is at an elevation of about 2,300 ft. The current flow, based on my best estimates from detailed maps, is at around 1500-1600 ft. The intersection of Highway 130 (the main, and actually only, north-south artery) and Leilani Avenue is around 950 ft and all of Leilani Estates is gradually going downhill as you move east. My property (and Kim's) just over 800 ft. And the little town of Pahoa is around 650 ft. In other words, it's pretty much all downhill for the flow as it keeps flowing east or north, or in any direction in between. South apparently is not likely because the terrain goes up a little bit just south of where the flow is now. And it's not going to go underground. Lava flows do build lava tubes all the way to the ocean on occasion, but these are always new tubes and general begin ON the surface and then as the surrounding areas begin to fill up with lava, they become tubes, where the lava can flow more quickly. There are no such options for the current flow.

And Scott - exactly my sentiments. I knew the risks when I moved here, and I was willing to take them. And I don't regret any of my decisions, At this point there are an almost endless number of possibilities - the flow could simply stop; it could meander back and forth in the general area where it is now without much forward progress (this happened about 5-6 years ago), or it could of course advance in any number of directions and cross Highway 130 and potentially cause devastatation - massive or quite limited. There's only one given - we'll know more in a few more months! Hopefully I'm still here at that point! But if not - it's been a great experience living here these 19 years! :)

Bo-Göran

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WestCoastGal

I had no idea there was an ongoing flow that could impact your property there Kim and Bo until I read this. Tough decisions to be made possibly. If nothing else it sounds like you have some time to weigh options and go with a plan.

Sorry you guys are having to worry about this after just facing the hurricanes. Will be following your posts and wishing you guys all the best.

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kahili

I remember when Kilauea first started to erupt through the Pu'u O'o crater . It was just flat land back then in the eighties.The first subdivision it took out was Royal Gardens, but it took a few years before it was totally gone. I remember driving up there after the first flow came through, and seeing where the flow had crossed over roads, but someone had bulldozed over the flow to smooth it out enough where a car could easily drive over it and people were just driving up and across the flow (which was around 15' high or so-maybe higher) once it had cooled down enough to drive over it. It was like that for awhile. So if it crosses over 130, you probably could still get in and out. It's not hard to drive over the flow once its been smoothed out. If it takes your property-that's another issue. I miss Kalapana-it was a great place. One of my kids learned to swim at the beach there-a really nice beach too, although black sand is definitely hot!

Good luck and I hope it doesn't hit any subdivisions or major roads.

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Alicehunter2000

Wow! Didn't know you all were faced with this situation. Wouldn't begin to know what to tell you....it is something that is very foreign. ...I guess treat it like you would a hurricane. ....step up levels of preparedness the closer it comes....maybe make a list of steps....always helps to write things down so you don't re-hash them over and over in your head.

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Jerry@TreeZoo

HazMapKilauea.gif

The flows erupted since 1800 are shown in gray and dated. The map (simplified from map reference below) divides the island into zones that are ranked from 1 through 9 based on the probability of coverage by lava flows (see table of hazard zone descriptions). Twenty-eight percent of the area encompassed by Zones 1 and 2 on the east half of the volcano has been covered by lava since 1955. The major housing subdivisions on the slopes of the volcano are shown in green.

http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/hazards/kilauea.html

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Kim

Yes Jerry, your map shows why my house is furnished entirely from WalMart and Ikea. :) It's very difficult to get a mortgage in lava zone 1. It is the Rift Zone, so theoretically a crack could open in my garden and lava could begin to flow right there.

Pete, Bo answered your questions about elevations. But yes, lava can flow underground for limited distances, through cracks, as it has been doing these last few days. Photos show areas of dead trees, but no visible lava -- it was advancing in a deep crack. Thermal photos showing areas of heat make the underground flow visible, and steam and smoke emit from those areas, but eventually it spills from the crack again, as it did on August 29th.

Scott, your post is very encouraging! :) It must be a little unnerving hearing explosions and seeing the glow so close to your place. I am in agreement with your statement that life is too short to worry about things we cannot control. There is a kind of peace that comes over my mind when I realize the truth of that statement. However things go, I've been very fortunate to have the time in Leilani and the experience of growing this young garden. If nothing else, the events make me appreciate it all the more.

We'll keep you posted, West Coast Gal, it's like a very slow-moving freight train.

Kahili, I also have good memories of the Black Sand Beach, where I camped one night on my very first trip to Hawaii. It was so beautiful. The new black sand beach is also beautiful, but wild and barren, so different from the one buried under so much lava!

David, I agree that writing down lists can effectively remove nagging concerns from the mind and set them aside until the list is useful. :) That's kind of why I'm posting; just writing the initial post made me feel better. :)

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Really full garden

Yes Kim, cherish your house and garden even more now. Make lots of happy memories there. It is very special to live so close to something so primordial and powerful.

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LilikoiLee

I would cross my fingers and hope that Madame Pele stops the flow just short of my doorstep, which she has been known to do in the past.

Lee

PS: It would be a tragedy for everyone if your, Bo-Göran's and the other fantastic gardens in Puna were lost so please give Mike's forth coming suggestion consideration.

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O'o Bar Master

Kim,

Since there is little that you can do from a practical standpoint, you might consider the traditional offering of gin which has been used as a supplication to Madam Pele. In this case you might ask to spare all of Puna. It's supposed to be tossed into HaleMaumau crater but consuming it might provide a moment of blinding insight into answering your what to do or do nothing concerns. Or it might just make you not care what happens.

Seriously, we're all crossing our fingers that the flow will stop or shift away in a harmless direction.

Mike

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Kim

Lee -- The series of darn cracks seems to be leading the lava slowly in a beeline to Leilani. But things happen; flows stop, or pool up and change course. I'm glad it's slow.

Mike -- To throw gin into HaleMaumau crater would require a hand-held rocket launcher, and the park rangers aren't too comfortable with that. Besides, after years of non-use, I let mine go at the last garage sale. Consuming gin would quickly provide me with blinding moments, that's for sure. May I substitute pisco? After our trip to Peru I developed a taste for pisco sours made with lilikoi juice. :) If you and Lee have the lilikoi, Bo and I can provide the pisco! We can get some friends together to do a group supplication to Madame Pele, maybe that will be more powerful. :lol2:

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DoomsDave

Ouch, Kim, that hurts to read. "Slightly disturbing" sounds like a massive understatement. I hate to think of the dilemma you face. It's one thing to accept an abstract risk, and another to look the beast in the face as it licks its chops.

I don't know what I'd do, except thank heaven I'm not on the slopes of (highly explosive) Mt. Vesuvius, Tambora or Krakatoa. I'd do, as you're doing, keeping an eye out for the latest developments. At least the likelihood of loss of life is very slim. There appears to be little need to worry about Leilani becoming Herculaneum of the Pacific. I hope that provides some comfort.

Thinking about it, our gardens are mostly temporary anyway. When we go, our gardens will mostly go, too. But, I'd hate like the devil to have to flee an inferno before I'm ready to move.

That said, I think it would be smart to have some emergency stuff stored somewhere, just in case. What stuff, how much and exactly where to store it, I'm not sure. Making a list will help make that decision.

Do keep us apprized of the developments.

All the best.

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Justin

I think the odds of it actually hitting Leilani are relatively slim, since Leilani is at or near the rift (i.e., the elevation slopes down to the north and also slopes down to the south). So it is more likely to cut off Leilani from Hilo, at least until it cools down enough to pave over. The current flow is not that big, so would cool down relatively quickly, and would not take out that much of 130, so I am hopeful it could be paved over sooner.

I look at the glass as half full - perhaps this would expedite additional routes from Puna into Hilo, such as on Railroad (where county already has a right of way) or along the East coast.

In the end, it's all insured. But I realize that's much easier to say when it's not my full-time home.

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bgl

I agree with Justin - if the flow were to reach Hwy 130 it would in all likelihood do so north of the entrance to Leilani Estates. The crest of the ridge, at 1,040 ft, is just north of the road to Opihikao (on Hwy 130 that is), some two miles to the south of us and then it's a fairly gentle downhill slope the two miles to Leilani Avenue, while the "next" two miles, down to Pahoa are much steeper, dropping to about 650 ft or so at the traffic light (intersection of Hwy 130 and 132). In other words, if the flow were to continue it would be more likely to head down that somewhat steeper slope. But these are just my own speculations. Bottom line is that there's a lot of ups and downs in the terrain between the current flow and Leilani, and at this point nobody of authority is willing to make even the most general guess. Personally I think it's going to fizzle out... :) IF it were to reach 130, LOTS of scenarios, all depending on how active it is (amount of lava) and how fast it's moving. And while it's certainly possible to walk across an active lava flow as long it's flowing in a tube (ask MattyB - he and Jen and I did that in late March 2007 and the three of us were the only ones out there on the dark and empty lava fields some ten miles west of Kalapana), the authorities would have to wait for the flow to stop in order to make even a rough road over it. That could take a day, or a month, or a year...the nature of volcano eruptions! :mrlooney:

And a minor clarification to my #4 above and the last sentence in my comment to Pete. What I meant by "there are no such options etc." was that there's no existing convenient lava tube that would accomodate it. The flow could of course create its own (new) lava tube, even though that would take quite some time and unless the flow were to really get much heavier it doesn't seem to have quite the volume to do that anytime soon.

And Mike and Lee - thanks for the suggestions! All options are being considered! :laugh2:

Bo-Göran

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MattyB

Bo tried to kill us

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bgl

Bo tried to kill us

Slight exaggeration! :laugh2: Where's your sense of adventure? :mrlooney:

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Funkthulhu

Maybe take a page out of Heimaey's book in Iceland. When Eldfell started erupting they eventually succeeded in saving most of the town. Still, took quite a bit of water to do it. I read about it originally in John McPhee's book, The Control of Nature. Good read.

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Brahea Axel

When I was on the Big Island last Spring actively looking for property, I took a good look at the USGS lava flow zones and made sure I understood it well. A friend of mine is a docent up at the Volcano and gave me the best explanation. Based on the home losses in the last century within Pele's kill zone, regardless of which risk zone you're in, the odds of losing your home is 2% every 10 years. (calculated by taking the total # of homes lost over 100 years divided by the years). Most people usually only keep a home for about 50 years, so the risk of losing your home is about 10%. The risk obviously varies based on the zone you're in, but obviously lava has flowed in zone 5, so the zones aren't all that reliable.

Land is discounted at a rate that far exceeds this risk, so the investment is actually well worth it. If you have insurance, let the house burn and buy land elsewhere. From a dollar sense, it's bullet proof, and the odds of you having to do this is only once in your lifetime at worst.

So don't sweat it (no pun intended.) If pele takes your house, consider your dues paid, and get another plot. Since you can get a plot for $20K, might as well get it now as backup and start planting.

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bgl

Axel,

All of that is certainly true, but the most important aspect in the current scenario is the UN-likelihood of one's house going up in flames because of the advancing lava flow. A much more likely scenario is where large areas could become cut off (forming so called "kipukas") from the surrounding areas and thus become uninhabitable for an extended period of time, but leaving structures intact. Such a situation could theoretically last anywhere from a few weeks or months to many years. Fat chance that the insurance companies are going to fall all over themselves by offering compensation in this scenario... :bemused:

Personally I'm more concerned about the uncertainty that would inevitably be attached to a mandatory evacuation (which would be announced 36 hours in advance), than with the certainty if one's house were to be overrun by the flow and consumed by fire. I have no doubt that there are others who may feel differently.

Bo-Göran

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WestCoastGal

Bo are you guys more likely to be evacuated because of toxic fumes arriving there before any lava?

After watching the helicopter footage I was also wondering if anyone knows if the ground beneath Leilani Estates has lava tubes running underneath it or was the land created by an above ground flow? It's been a long time since we walked the Thurston Tube and spoken with the docents at the Center. Just wondering if you could have a flow passing underneath in an old tube?

I think many of us here on PT live with the threat of some kind of natural disaster, so certainly can empathize with you guys. Where we are could be hit with a really strong 6.5 or stronger earthquake and get flooded by a dam in the area failing (they are working on retrofitting the questionable rock used at the base when it was built but aren't redoing it like it should have been built so it still no guarantee it will provide enough protection after all the money is spent). An estimated 30 feet under water in the valley would definitely do us in. Still we all choose to live where we do and accept the risks for the lifestyle the area provides. Have to say you do it in more enviable style than us!

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bgl

Well, this is a very dramatic place, that's for sure! :bemused: In many ways. And a strong earthquake could also happen here.

About a possible evacuation - it's my understanding that an evacuation would take place primarily to get people out of where the lava flow might go, or get them out of areas that might get cut off from the road system, Not so much toxic fumes. I have been out to the active lava flow many times times over the past 20 years, walking right up to an active flow and standing only feet away from it. Toxic fumes is not exactly what you're concerned about. Avoiding getting grilled by 2000 degree hot lava is more like it! :mrlooney:

And about lava tubes - yes, there are tubes ALL over the place and I'm sure there are some right here in Leilani Estates, but I don't believe there are any that are of any significant length. You hear stories about D9 bulldozers clearing a property in lower Puna and falling right through the lava down into an old lava tube, but for the most part the ground is pretty solid here in Leilani. You dig a foot or so and you hit blue rock. And you don't mess with blue rock - dense as dense can be. Not likely to have any hidden lava tubes a few feet down. I know enough people who've had a heck of a time digging 14 ft down (the requirement) for a cesspool to have a general understanding of what's beneath the surface here. And of course you use heavy equipment to do that "digging" (more like drilling).

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Brahea Axel

Bo are you guys more likely to be evacuated because of toxic fumes arriving there before any lava?

After watching the helicopter footage I was also wondering if anyone knows if the ground beneath Leilani Estates has lava tubes running underneath it or was the land created by an above ground flow? It's been a long time since we walked the Thurston Tube and spoken with the docents at the Center. Just wondering if you could have a flow passing underneath in an old tube?

I think many of us here on PT live with the threat of some kind of natural disaster, so certainly can empathize with you guys. Where we are could be hit with a really strong 6.5 or stronger earthquake and get flooded by a dam in the area failing (they are working on retrofitting the questionable rock used at the base when it was built but aren't redoing it like it should have been built so it still no guarantee it will provide enough protection after all the money is spent). An estimated 30 feet under water in the valley would definitely do us in. Still we all choose to live where we do and accept the risks for the lifestyle the area provides. Have to say you do it in more enviable style than us!

Well, the lava flow went underground as of Sept 1, it's going to re-surface somewhere along the rift zone, see purple zones down below. Doesn't that mean the lava flow could re-surface in leilani estates and above Opihikau Farms?

HazMapKilauea.gif

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Kim

Bo are you guys more likely to be evacuated because of toxic fumes arriving there before any lava?

After watching the helicopter footage I was also wondering if anyone knows if the ground beneath Leilani Estates has lava tubes running underneath it or was the land created by an above ground flow? It's been a long time since we walked the Thurston Tube and spoken with the docents at the Center. Just wondering if you could have a flow passing underneath in an old tube?

I think many of us here on PT live with the threat of some kind of natural disaster, so certainly can empathize with you guys. Where we are could be hit with a really strong 6.5 or stronger earthquake and get flooded by a dam in the area failing (they are working on retrofitting the questionable rock used at the base when it was built but aren't redoing it like it should have been built so it still no guarantee it will provide enough protection after all the money is spent). An estimated 30 feet under water in the valley would definitely do us in. Still we all choose to live where we do and accept the risks for the lifestyle the area provides. Have to say you do it in more enviable style than us!

Well, the lava flow went underground as of Sept 1, it's going to re-surface somewhere along the rift zone, see purple zones down below. Doesn't that mean the lava flow could re-surface in leilani estates and above Opihikau Farms?

I'm learning as the progression is reported -- in recent days, the lava has flowed into deep cracks in the forest, BUT -- then after filling the crack, the lava will overflow again on the surface. Think of a faucet filling a cup, and overflowing -- apparently the cracks are not continuous, at least not those the flow has encountered recently. Anything is possible, but for the lava to happen upon a continuous crack or lava tube seems like a remote chance.

If you follow the link in the intial post, you can click on links to daily updates or maps, and see successive daily reports and maps as you scroll down the page, latest at the top. It's interesting to see the daily progression. What looks so strange is the straight line of cracks pointing directly to Leilani Estates. But there is a lot of irregular topography not seen on the maps, and the photo link adds more information from that perspective. I'm sure it's easier to forecast the weather than to predict the path of the lava.

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Justin

Low 80s, partly sunny, chance of showers. I think I just predicted 4 months of weather (until it becomes upper 70s).

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DoomsDave

Lava warnings in select locations . . .

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Brahea Axel

Today, 20% showers turning to 60% by afternoon, temps ranging from upper 70's to lower 2,000.

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Cindy Adair

Catching up a bit on PalmTalk and thus all this is news to me! I will keep a close eye on this thread and hope nature ( even lava) will be gentle this time! Stay safe.

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WestCoastGal

So the latest estimate is 5-7 days to Kaohe Homesteads. Do we have any members in there?

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bgl

Ka'ohe Homesteads is a very small community. I'm guessing 20-25 homes. I don't believe HIPS or PalmTalk has any members there. And the declaration of emergency only prudent under the circumstances as well as restricting access to that area to residents only.

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Dypsisdean

This photo gives a good perspective and understanding of the lava and Ka'ohe Homesteads

Good Luck to all my Leilani friends - may the slope be with you.

post-11-0-52722200-1409875034_thumb.jpg

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WestCoastGal

The civil defense videos are interesting. Thanks for posting.

Checked the new maps for the 4th and with the fingers of the flow outlined it looks like there's a chance it might be going away from Leilani Estates. Hope for your sake there it works out that way.

BTW I really appreciate the feedback on the comments made in this thread. Never heard of blue rock before or considered trying to build on the islands and what below ground obstacles there might be. Losing an excavator like that would be one of those "fishing" stories that would make the rounds and get repeated over the years.

I've always found geology fascinating and volcanoes top the list. Volcano National Park was one of the stops that was a must do when we first went to the islands. When we were there we got to take the trail into Kilauea Iki. So surreal. We also got the opportunity to take a helicopter ride over the errupting volcano and lava fields. Might have even see Leilani Estates from the air back then. Driving up to and walking into Haleakala was another must do. You guys are so lucky to be experiencing this in your backyard...well except for the lava in the backyard maybe. Keeping fingers crossed for all as the days pass.

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bgl

Debbie,

Yes, this is indeed a very special place, and in so many ways. But it's not for everyone. Over the years I've found that people generally tend to be in one of two groups, both in a sense to the "extremes": the ones who embrace and love it here and the ones who have difficulties adjusting to a lifestyle that's for the most part quite different than where they came from (and those are usually the ones moving back to the mainland after a couple of years). Very few fall "in between". And when I say "here" I am referring specifically to the Hilo side of the Big Island.

And about the lava flow - it will be very interesting to see what the development will be over the next several days. That's quite critical. My personal, and very unofficial, prediction, is that the flow will take a turn towards the north and hopefully before it reaches Ka'ohe Homesteads. If it were to do that it will be heading down that slope and could keep going for a while without causing damage to residential areas. That would mean for the flow to make a "left turn" from the direction it's coming. Or heading right in the photo that Dean posted above. I consider the risk to Leilani Estates to be minimal at this point and this is based on the general topography in our area.

And incidentally, the bulldozer that fell through the lava, into a hidden lava tube, wasn't lost. Bulldozers are by their very nature built to take a lot of abuse and falling some 12-15 ft down probably wouldn't cause any significant damage, and it would be able to dig itself out of there in no time! :)

Bo-Göran

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bgl

Incidentally, for those who have not had the experience of seeing an active lava flow up close, this is truly an amazing experience, no matter how many times you experience it, because each flow is unique and each experience will be unique. I have been out to the active flow many times, and all of those times, except one, was through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (where Chain of Craters Road is blocked by lava). At one time I was out there twice within 48 hours, and the flow had changed the terrain completely in those 48 hours. The one time I did not hike out on HVNP land was in January 2013, when Kim and I hiked in from the east (from Kalapana). Here are two photos. The first, with Kim, shows how a flow "behaves" on fairly level ground. It tends to spread out all over the place, and is rather slow moving. The second photo, only a couple of hundred yards away, shows the dramatic scene when multiple flows enter the ocean. I should point out that the current flow is in an area that's off limits to the public and the only way to view it is from the air.

post-22-0-58237400-1410028594_thumb.jpg

post-22-0-24496800-1410028616_thumb.jpg

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Pando

This is an awesome display of nature's unstoppable power. We're watching the very creation of Hawaiian islands as the hotspot moves south under the Earth's crust (or the crust moves north over the hotspot, either way) as it has for millions of years. Older islands to the north are being eroded away, and millions of years from now all that's left of them will be shallow lagoons. Totally incredible, totally primeval.

Edited by Pando

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