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Incredible lava river devastation at Royal Gardens Hawaii -all in 90-seconds

Filmed December 4th to 5th, 2011 ~~ Turn your audio up! :)


If you have an the interest, here, below, is an explanation/background of the video footage: Only my most serious SparkyLeigh followers (both of you ;) will take the time to read all this, thanks team :)


The volcanic geology resulting in this lava flow:

Our local Kilauea Volcano has been active within two craters, the Halema`uma`u and the Pu`u O`o. The Pu`u O`o has been by far the most dramatic of the two for decades. It builds up a large full new floor hundreds of feet deep of molten rock from intense magma in chambers within the earth below, then may suddenly release all this lava through an adjacent fissure eruption , then spewing incredible amounts of molten lava out onto the surface of older flows.


The last such collapse was late last August, surface lava moved away from the crater and downslope for a mile or two over many weeks. Both craters have visible molten lava that changes volume nearly continuously. These changes are governed by magma chamber pressures driven from deep below ground, and expressed as fluctuations of crater and surface flow lava: high inflation - likely rising and more active lava above ground -- large drops in pressures = deflation, and surface action stifles to some degree.


It has been these factors that have slowly pushed the erupting lava from Pu`u O`o through self-created tubes and closer to the ocean, about seven miles below.


Current conditions:

**I said all the above as a background as to why and how I ended up taking the video footage I post above. This lava flow finally reached near enough to the coast to enter one of the remnant forest previously spared by past eruptions in recent years. That forest has one occupied home, the only resident left, Jack, from what once was, not many years ago, the thriving community of Royal Gardens subdivision; paved roads and all.


So (sorry this is so long-winded, but hey, it's becoming a story now :) ...


The hike in to the action:

So… when I knew the current surface lava flow had reached that forest I packed my gear: camera equipment, food and lots of water, and hiked the four miles across raw cooled lava fields, and up to the 900 foot elevation to that kipuka. I also packed a couple of extra all-organic ;) peanut butter and honey sandwiches to offer to Jack… but when I arrived there Sunday afternoon, rivers of lava were pouring thru the east side of a mile-long section of the forest, severing access to the Jack's home, and Jack from mine I suppose. Just before I started the hike, two different friends told me that Jack was being airlifted out by helicopter later that afternoon.


The adventure:

Sure enough, soon after I arrived, and saw scenes shown in the beginning of the video here, a helicopter in fact did land just beyond the burning forest and molten rivers. Ten-minutes after, it flew back up & out. (I have that scene in the original 2-minute clip I made of these events, but cut that section to fit on Flickr's 90-second max allowed. You can, if you want to, see the helicopter part here )


I stayed the night there, marching up and down along the ever-changing, and very intense, rivers of molten lava - snapping still shots but also taking video of exciting scenes (yeah it was all pretty exciting :) The terrain up on that mountain side is very rugged-- steep and sharp rough old lava, as the video shows. So It is not a good idea to set your gear down or it may be lost in the insane maze of lava while moving from spot to spot, or, quickly covered by advancing lava… so, I had thirty-pounds on my back for nearly 24 hours-- yeah I was a little sore and tired by the time I did get home (still feeling it a bit!)


I did take a few breaks during the night. I slept a scattered few hours in my clothes; laying first on slightly higher old lava ground a few hundred feet away from the main lava rivers so as not to be encased in one of them (that rougher-jumbly lava you see in the video is called a`a and can be surprising fast and dangerous) but it was a colder night with some showers, though I had been nicely staying warm hiking near the hot lava zone (actually nearly getting burned kind of warm). ...


.... But laying down away from the flow I quickly got cold. So I took the risk of becoming another rocky bump on the slopes, and relocated right next to the glowing red pahoehoe on some of the smoother old lava; clothes dried out, sore muscles relaxed and I got two solid dream-hours in -- it felt nice to cuddle up to Pele, our volcano goddess ;) - talk about triple fire signs!


Anyway, this is the first time I have had to stop and write this little story to go with the video; both this story and this shorter video were custom made just for you, my Flickrett buddies,



Oh-- Jack's beautiful hand-built home was still standing as of this writing...


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Taken on December 5, 2011