Saturday, March 28, 2015

When Kīlauea Volcano had its first major eruption in 115 years on February 28, 1955, Troy ophthalmologist Dr. Andrew Ogawa was a boy on the island of Oahu, and had never been to the “big island” of Hawai’i. He remembers the ash in the air, and that the sun was orange for a few days.

Kīlauea has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983, with two vents. The oldest vent, the vent of the 1955 eruption, is called Halema’uma’u. The younger vent, Pu’u ‘Ō‘ō, opened on the volcano’s East Rift Zone in 1983. During the day a plume of volcanic gas is a constant and dramatic reminder of the molten rock churning in a lava lake within the crater. After sunset, the oldest vent, called Halema’uma’u, continues to thrill visitors and park staff with a vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and plume.

Dr. Ogawa, a 12th generation physician, and his wife, dermatologist Catherine Ogawa, went to the big island for their honeymoon in 1968. Kīlauea erupted the evening of their daytime visit to the Volcano Park. They could see the flames from their hotel room in Kona; the eruption lasted an amazing 251 days.

Kīlauea is temperamental, alternating between quiet effusion of lava and violent explosive eruptions. Each eruptive style lasts for centuries and reflects very different conditions in the caldera.

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Don Swanson looks at what we know and don’t know about these conditions. The current effusive nature is beguiling but misleading, for the volcano has been explosive for 60 percent of the past 2,500 years. From a historical perspective, there is reason to think that the Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption may be a prelude to an explosive period.

The current eruption, begun July 8, 2014, initially spewed hot lava up to 150 feet in the air. The lava flow is in a relatively unpopulated area however scientists and officials continue to monitor its progress.


What is the volcano doing now? Go to https://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/cams/ to view live webcam

To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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