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Sunday, September 17, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023

Kaʻū Trojans stir up dust en route to a touchdown drive in Saturday's home game. Photo by Mark Peters. See more below.

KAʻŪ AIR IS CLEANER WITH THE VOLCANIC ERUPTION STOPPING at around noon on Saturday. The eruption "is unlikely to restart," according to USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The Kīlauea summit eruption that began on Sept. 10 stopped Sept. 16. "No unusual activity has been noted along Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone or Southwest Rift Zone." says the USGS report. On Saturday morning, HVO field crews reported that "active lava was no longer flowing onto Halemaʻumaʻu crater floor and was restricted to a ponded area north of the vents on the downdropped block. They observed lava spattering at the vents cease at approximately 11:15 a.m. Saturday.
    "Overnight webcam views showed some incandescence across the eruption area as lava erupted over the past week continues to cool. Field observations are supported by geophysical data, which show that eruptive tremor (a signal associated with fluid movement) in the summit region decreased over Sept. 15 and 16 and returned to pre-eruption levels by 5 p.m., Sept. 16. Information on the recent Kīlauea summit eruption is available at:https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/recent-eruption."
    Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions have decreased to near background levels based upon the very weak plume visible on Sunday morning. Sulfur dioxide levels were measured at a rate of 800 tonnes per day on Saturday, while the eruption was waning. "This value is down dramatically from the 190,000 tonnes per day measured just after the onset of the eruption on Sunday, Sept 10, and is only slightly above the 100-200 tonnes typical of non-eruptive periods," says the USGS report.

Color photographs of scientists near eruption
HVO geologists collect a molten lava sample near the erupting vents during the morning of Sept. 11, 2023.
USGS photo by M. Patrick

The weekly column from USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists and affiliates said that
Kīlauea's eruption was the fifth since 2020 and offered opportunity for Hawaiian Volcano Observatory staff to learn and collaborate with partners at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Geology Department:
Kīlauea eruptions in 2020–2021, 2021–2022, January–March 2023, and June 2023 started and remained within Halemaʻumaʻu crater, The newest eruption that began Sunday, Sept. 10, also started as a lava fountain bursting from within Halemaʻumaʻu.
   However, in the minutes to hours immediately following eruption start, vents opened to the east, on the downdropped block that lowered during the 2018 summit collapse. This represents the first lava that has erupted within the summit caldera, but out of Halemaʻumaʻu, in 41 years! In 1982, there were two summit eruptions, both lasting less than one day, that occurred outside of Halemaʻumaʻu.
    Since the 2018 summit collapse, eruptions have slowly filled in Halemaʻumaʻu. In fact, the eastern rim of Halemaʻumaʻu is nearly covered with flows originating from the downdropped block. These lava flows are more accessible than those produced during earlier eruptions and geologists were able to collect a molten sample of lava from close to an erupting vent.
University of Hawai‘i at Hilo geology major Paige Johnson
 compresses a lava sample, collected by Hawaiian Volcano
 Observatory scientists during the ongoing Kīlauea summit
 eruption, into a solid pellet that can be analyzed.
UH-Hilo photo by S. Lundblad
    HVO works closely with partners at UH-Hilo to quickly analyze eruption samples. What does a day in the life of a lava sample look like as it makes its way from the volcano to ultimately provide information about the nature of the eruption?
    When they collect a hot and molten lava sample, HVO scientists quench (cool) it in water. The sample collected on Sept. 11 was driven from the eruption to UH-Hilo, where undergraduate geology research assistants immediately started sample preparation and analysis. First, they dried the sample by putting it in a warm oven for two hours.
    In the early afternoon, a portion of the dried sample was pulverized in a paint-shaker-like device called a shatterbox. This process turns the rock into a homogenous powder. The powder was then compressed into a pellet under 25 tons of pressure. The pellet provides a dense, fine-grained, flat surface, that can be analyzed for its bulk composition in an instrument called an Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (EDXRF), which takes only 20 minutes to complete.
    EDXRF uses a small portion of sample, leaving most of the rock for other types of analyses. The chemical composition provided by EDXRF gives a first glimpse of what is happening with the magma during the eruption. Analysis of the sample collected the morning of September 11 was completed less than 24 hours after the eruption began.
    Rapid analyses of eruption samples provide valuable information to track eruptions at Kīlauea. The high-quality geochemical characterization that EDXRF analyses offer in near-real-time allows HVO and UH-Hilo geologists to track daily changes in lava chemistry. The partnership between HVO and UH-Hilo began several years before the devastating 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption but was put to the test during that eruption.
    Knowing the compositional changes in the lava samples the very same day they erupted proved critical to understanding changes in lava flow behavior as the 2018 eruption transitioned from cooler, sluggish lava, to hotter, faster-moving lava. This was a valuable tool in assessing the hazard to properties from the advancing lava flows.
    Processing eruption samples in a timely manner takes a team. Working together, HVO and UH-Hilo have learned that the temperature and chemistry of lava erupted during this new eruption look very similar to lava from the past four eruptions. This suggests that even if hotter magma from a deeper source is moving into the volcano, it is continuing to mix and cool in a shallower magma body before reaching the surface.
    At HVO, scientists collect samples and other important data about the eruption. At UH-Hilo, faculty and students prepare and analyze the samples. They work together to interpret the compositional data and learn about the processes associated with recent eruptions at Kīlauea.

AT THE UNITED NATIONS ON SUNDAY, GOV. JOSH GREEN SAID, "We are no longer anticipating the destructive effects of climate change — we are now fully enduring them," referring to the deadly August firestorm in Lāhainā. Green spoke about Hawai‘i's efforts to implement policies to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and the importance of local leadership to achieve the goals by 2030.
    "There is no town, city, or human community on earth that is safe from the kind of extreme weather fueled by climate change that we experienced in Hawai‘i last month. We are in this together — we are all part of one interconnected and interdependent global community."
    Green stated that Hawai‘i commits to move forward "with a higher standard," as reflected in the Aloha+ Challenge and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
   "We urge our friends and neighbors in the global community to join us in our commitment to renewable green energy systems, protecting and strengthening our energy grids, and investing in solutions and technologies that can help reverse climate change," he said.
   This is the second time Green, along with Hawai‘i Green Growth, has addressed a United Nations summit. He first presented at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development on July 12, "providing the only state-level Voluntary Local Review on implementation of the UN's 17 SDGs, contained in the Aloha+ Challenge," says the statement from his office.
    Kamehameha Schools students opened the session with an oli that rang out through the chamber. Later, Kamehameha Schools Kaʻāmauloa Pathway students presented the second Voluntary Local Review (VLR) in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian language.  "This report, drafted in partnership with public and private stakeholders, provided a comprehensive overview of Hawaiʻi's progress and challenges toward meeting the SDGs."
    The Governor said, "The leadership displayed by the students from Kamehameha Schools is nothing short of remarkable. Their dedication to sustainability and their role in presenting the second VLR in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi to the United Nations is a testament to the bright future of Hawaiʻi and the global community."
    Hawaiʻi Green Growth CEO Celeste Connors said, "Hawaiʻi and island economies understand the challenge of achieving a safe, equitable, and resilient future against the backdrop of climate change. They can help the rest of the world navigate towards a more sustainable path for island earth based on their experiences."
    On Monday, Green and the Hawaiʻi Green Growth delegation will participate in a panel titled American Leadership on the SDGs as part of the Brookings Institution/UN Foundation Event. The 20-minute moderated fireside chat will be led by Tony Pipa of Brookings and will provide a platform for in-depth discussions on transitions required to achieve the SDGs by 2030. The panel discussion will be at 2 a.m. HST and is in-person only, with no livestream available.
   Remarks by the Governor and video of the Hawai‘i Green Growth delegation are available via UN Web TV.

Diya Ellis-Reyes rolls out to pass with blocking by Isaiah Manila-Louis and Oli Silva-Kamei. Photo by Mark Peters

Trojans Dominic Nurial-Dacalio and Ian Beck make a nice
 pass block on Honoka‘a defender. Photo by Mark Peters

DUSTED BY THE DRAGONS, Kaʻū Trojans football suffered a loss on Saturday on home turf to the defending BIIF D2 Champions, the Honoka‘a Dragons.
    The next two weekends will feature two more home game opportunities, with game time at 1 p.m. against Kohala on Saturday, Sept. 23 and Pāhoa on Saturday, Sept. 20. The Trojans take to the road against Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 2 p.m.
    Trojans return home for the last two games, the first against Kamehameha School on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. The second is against Honoka'a on Friday, Oct. 20 at 6 p.m.
  In other sports this week, Trojan Girls Volleyball takes on Hawai'i Preparatory at home on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 3:30 p.m.  

Kaʻū Trojans' defense lines up against the defending BIIF D2 Champions, the Honoka‘a Dragons, on Saturday.
Photo by Mark Peters