The Hawaii Department of Transportation announced early this afternoon that Highway 130 is now open beyond Malama Street for local residents only, and police are requesting that no large trailers or heavy equipment be taken over the metal plates covering cracks in the pavement.
A checkpoint is located by Pahoa High School at the intersection of Highways 130 and 132. Highway 132 remains closed to all but local residents at the corner of Pohoiki Road.
Meanwhile, Kilauea’s summit continued to belch ash Tuesday afternoon as rocks fall into the receding lava lake inside Halema‘uma‘u Crater.
Geologists at Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say these plumes are not the result of a steam-driven explosion that may occur if the lava lake recedes below the water table.
Trade winds were carrying the ash and associated gas to the southwest. Ash was falling in the Ka‘u desert and communities downwind are likely to receive ash fall today, HVO said in a statement this morning.
Amery Silva of Pahala said small amounts of ash were collecting on cars, but was otherwise hard to notice.
“That’s been happening for the past two weeks,” she said.
Steve Brantley, HVO deputy scientist-in-charge, said geologists are studying the ash to see if there is evidence of water intrusion inside the magma column, which could lead to a bigger explosion at the summit. So far, no evidence of that has been detected.
“We’re recording overall deflationary tilt as the magma column presumably continues to withdraw,” he said.
On the lower East Rift Zone, the lava flow from fissure No. 17 near Halekamahina Road has slowed significantly, according to HVO.
“Field reports are that the lava flow has moved 1,200 feet in the past day but is not moving very much at the moment,” Brantley said. As of this morning, the flow was about 1.5 miles in length.
Civil Defense said in its noon update fissure the thin finger of lava from fissure No. 17 is moving at about 20 yards per hour toward the ocean and the front is about 1.2 miles from Highway 137, although no homes or roads are immediately threatened.
Another fissure — fissure No. 20 — formed in or near Lanipuna Gardens and had produced two small pads of lava.
Brantley said geologists have not found evidence yet of fresh magma reaching the surface. The lava that’s been emitted from the fissures during an eruption that started May 3 is believed to be from older magma, possibly leftover from a 1955 eruption.
The state Department of Health reports hazardous emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas from fissures are especially dangerous for elderly, children/babies and people with respiratory problems. SO2 can be carried with wind, or, cover an area with no wind. Residents of Lower Puna are advised to be on the alert to gas emissions.