Walk carefully in the uplands of Puna (Kumupaʻa)
Walking in the mauka regions of Puna can be extremely hazardous because of the numerous lava cracks hidden by vegetation in the forest (some with over 30-feet vertical drops and 30+ feet wide).
Sometimes, when walking in the mauka forests of Puna, there is abundant uluhe fern; you effectively walk ‘on’ uluhe, not ‘through’ it. You could find yourself walking over the edge of a crack, before you know it.
Local residents have reported numerous incidents in which individuals and dogs have fallen into the lava cracks and suffered serious injury. In addition, in the event of an emergency, there is no cellular phone service, and difficulty of emergency rescue, etc.
It is not just cracks from old flows that are a problem. Starting in June 27, 2014, lava from the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent had been over-running Wao Kele o Puna.
We must also be cognizant of the ongoing eruption; the flow that headed to Pāhoa ran through Wao Kele o Puna. While the flow is not causing problems in Pāhoa at this time, outbreaks recently covered portions of Wao Kele o Puna.
The flow has since been redirected makai of the vent and not affecting Wao Kele o Puna. (Information in this section is from the USGS website, searched December 27, 2016)
Kīlauea’s ongoing Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption, which began in January 1983, ranks as the most voluminous outpouring of lava from the volcano’s East Rift Zone in the past five centuries.
By December 2012, flows had covered 125.5 km2 (48.4 mi2) with about 4 km3 (1 mi3) of lava, and had added 202 hectares (500 acres) of new land to Kīlauea’s southeastern shore. Lava flows had also destroyed 214 structures, and resurfaced 14.3 km (8.9 mi) of highway, burying them with as much as 35 m (115 ft) of lava.
The eruption can be roughly divided in to five time periods. From 1983 to 1986, a series of short-lived lava fountains built a cinder-and-spatter cone later named Puʻu ʻŌʻō.
In 1986, the eruption shifted 3 km (1.8 mi) northeastward along Kīlauea’s east rift zone, where a nearly continuous outpouring of lava built a broad shield, Kupaianaha, and sent flows to the coast for more than five years.
In 1992, the eruption moved back uprift and new vents opened on the southwestern flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Over the next 15 years, nearly continuous effusion of lava from these vents sent flows to the ocean, mainly within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.
The most significant change during the 1992–2007 interval was a brief uprift fissure eruption and the corresponding collapse of Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s west flank in January 1997.
In June 2007, an hours-long, unwitnessed eruption uprift of Puʻu ʻŌʻō led to renewed collapse within the cone and a brief hiatus in activity.
When the eruption resumed in July 2007, new vents opened between Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Kupaianaha, sending flows to Kīlauea’s southeastern coast until early 2011.
This activity was terminated by another short-lived eruption uprift of Puʻu ʻŌʻō in March 2011. Activity at Puʻu ʻŌʻō then resumed with a brief breakout from the western flank of the cone in August 2011, followed by the opening of a new, persistent vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s northeast flank in September 2011. Flows from this latter vent remained active on Kīlauea’s southeastern flank as of December 2012.
On June 27, 2014, new vents opened on the northeast flank of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone that fed a narrow lava flow to the east-northeast.
On August 18, the flow entered a ground crack, traveled underground for several days, then resurfaced to form a small lava pad. The sequence was repeated twice more over the following days with lava entering other cracks and reappearing farther downslope.
In this way, the flow had advanced approximately 8.2-miles from the vent, or to within 0.8-miles of the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, by the afternoon of September 3, 2014.
Lava emerged from the last crack on September 6, 2014, forming a surface flow that initially moved to the north, then to the northeast, at a rate of 1,300-ft/day). This flow advanced downslope before stalling in Pāhoa on October 30 about 170-yards from Pāhoa Village Road. Breakouts upslope continued to widen the flow within the Wao Kele o Puna property.
Puʻu ʻŌʻō continues to erupt, but the lava flow from it has stopped running through Wao Kele o Puna, but remains as a reminder of the risks associated with the nearby Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption. The present volcanic activity in the uplands of Puna remind us of the message and warnings of the ‘Ōlelo No‘eau.