ALOHA!  Thank you to those who contacted Fuku-Bonsai and expressed concerns.  We are located about 20 miles away and at a higher elevation and away from the active East Rift Zone.  We appreciate the concerns and goodwill and hope this summary will give everyone a better understanding and perspective of the situation.  History is repeating itself as the "down-rift activity" is similar to the 1960 Kapoho activity that totally wiped out the entire town. There have been other smaller "break-outs" but the current activity is at a larger volume and there is yet no clues as to when it will stop. From time to time, we will summarize and update.  Please contact me if you need other information.  ~~~David (


           The May 14, 2018 U.S. Geological Survey map shows the early phase of the "down-rift" phase of the current eruption series that is receiving national publicity.  We have been contacted by past visitors and friends and this information was created to give both local residents and past visitors a better perspective and should be especially helpful for those planning a Hawaiian vacation..  The eruption is disrupting activity in only one area and most of Hawaii is not affected.  Due to the limited roads in that area,  visitors are advised to stay out of that area and even residents have been advised to evacuate due to possible toxic gasses.  (CONTINUE DOWN TO SEE A SERIES OF MAPS SHOWING ACTIVITY PROGRESSING WITH ADDITIONAL MAPS TO BE ADDED.)


                    In 1960,  following a lengthy Kilauea summit eruption, lava began traveling down the East Rift Zone  and emerged near where the latest fissures are developing.  The fountains produced voluminous lava flows that covered hundreds of homes and most of Kapoho town with flows to the most eastern point of the Big Island.  Hawaiian eruptions follow a pattern. The current series began in 1983 with an eruption at the Kilauea summit in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Until recently, the lava stayed at higher elevations and traveled mainly south through lava tubes to enter the ocean without endangering homes.  A year or so ago,  it traveled north of the East Rift Zone and caused some damage in Kaohe Homestead, but stopped before Pahoa. There have been numerous "fissures" opening and "#8" in the midst of Leilani Estates has become the most active and to date has consumed over 700 homes and structures. The flow initially headed toward the former Kapoho town but turned toward the sea. 


Kīlauea East Rift Zone Fissure Map


            The most active fissures are pouring out lava in greater volumn that is moving downhill and have entered the ocean producing "LAZE" (lava haze)  aka "VOG" (Volcanic fog") that is being carried south and west by prevailing winds.  Although the television images are spectacular,  all activity is confined to just a tiny isolated part of the Big Island and while not accessible by cars,  there are reports of extraordinary views from the helicopter tours that are leaving from the Hilo Airports. There are also lava boat tours to get closer to where lava is entering the ocean.


                   Compared to the map a week ago, it is apparent that there is a major change in activity and there has been greatly increased volume of downrift flow.  It is a major matter of concern that the most active fissures are uprift and the newest volume is now aiming for the former Kapoho town that was largely covered by the 1960 flow.  Residents in danger are notified to evacuate now or be on their own as rescuers will not be able to help them if they are trapped by lava.

                   KAPOHO BAY!  The photo taken about June 3, 2018 shows that the greatly increased volume of outpouring of lava has covered a huge distance in a short time and is shown coming through the Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland, to completely fill the bay and continue to form a peninsula, destroying a large number of structures as it widens and spreads out. The following maps just a day apart shows how quickly the entire bay was filled with lava!  (Wikipedia Commons photo)  


                   Reports are that the current temperatures of the lava is higher than ever making it more fluid and resulting in more massive fountains with a great increase in the volume of lava that now covers a larger area than shown in the previous map. THE FOLLOWING MAPS SHOW THE HUGE AREA BEING COVERED BY LAVA AND ONLY ONE DAY APART!  The faster moving flow has traveled down Highway 130, through the former Kapoho town and on to cover the Four Corners intersection isolating Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots.  Another flow is entering Kapoho Bay with latest reports it's half-filled and producing 750 yards of new land. 

              JUNE 5 UPDATE:  The above map just a day after the previous map shows the large amount of new area being covered by the current high-volume lava flow that has covered the "Four Corners" intersection that leads to the Cape Kumukahi lighthouse that was almost covered by the 1960 flow that wiped out Kapoho town. Compared to that flow, the high-volume flow is following a more southerly direction,  circling and going around the huge ancient Kapoho cinder cone with one finger filling most of Kapoho Bay, and the other finger going through and covering homes in Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots.  This beautiful district has quietly become popular for vacation rentals and include the Kapoho tidal flats that was a popular snorkeling destination for smaller tour vans.  Reports are that all of Kapoho Bay is no more.

Kīlauea East Rift Zone Fissures and Flows 

                JUNE 6 UPDATE:  In just another day, lava has filled all of the former Kapoho Bay and continuing to extend out into the ocean forming a new peninsula.  Latest unofficial estimate is that over 650 home have been covered or destroyed. The volume of lava continues and seems to be spreading both north and south and is forming a new coastline.

               JUNE 10 UPDATE:  Lava volume continues to fill the entire Kapoho Bay and extend into the ocean. The Kapoho coastal area was once  the Big Island's East Hawaii's "best kept secret".  Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots had full-time residents but also a large number of modest parcels and structures that were largely owned by Hilo and Upper Puna residents who enjoyed them on weekends or loaned out to friends and families for gatherings. Over the last 50 years,  bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals became increasingly known to the outside world who enjoyed the calm ocean waters for swimming, the tide pools for snorkeling and the peaceful beauty of the area. Small tour buses brought "day-trippers" to snorkel and enjoy the beauty.  It was probably one of the greatest values for repeat visitors to Hawaii who tended to stay longer and participated in local activities. Over the years,  it was harder to keep it a secret. The situation has been a major lost for many repeat visitors and local residents.

                       The above thermal map shows the fissure system and lava flows as of 2pm on June 12. The fountain at Fissure 8 remains very active with lava entering the ocean at Kapoho. The black and white area is the extent of the thermal map. Temperature in the thermal image is displayed as gray-scale values, with the brightest pixels indicating the hottest areas. The thermal map was constructed by stitching many overlapping oblique thermal images collected by a handheld thermal camera during a helicopter overflight of the flow field.  The base is a copyrighted color satellite image (used by permission). 

 *ERUPTION SUMMARY - JUNE 20 to JULY 16, 2018*

                 JUNE 20 UPDATE:   (NOTE:  The above USGS map has been edited by Fuku-Bonsai to darken the line showing the former Kapoho Bay coastline to more clearly show the approximately 380 acres of new lava delta that has been added since the flow began on May 3, 2018.)

                       Since the previous two maps (on June 10 and 12)  lava continues to cover the former Kapoho Bay and extending out as a lava delta peninsula with an estimated 270 acres of new land created.  Under Hawaii law, all such new land is owned by the state. The current estimate is that the new lava delta is now 380 acres of new land has been created with the volume of lava continuing at a steady high-volume pace and adding about 10 acres per day for the last several days. 

                     The main fountain is estimated at 150' to 180' high and the volume of lava been produced is at a record historical volume and clearly much larger that the 1960 Kapoho flow that wiped out Kapoho village.  The lava seems to be staying in the channel and with the high volume, the flow is relatively fast and the lava does not have a chance to cool. So it stays in the channel with minimum overflowing of the walls and most of it ends up going into the ocean and building up a lot of new land. There is an estimate that the lava may be flowing at a speed of 20 miles per hour in the fastest moving center of the channel!

                     The US Geological Survey maps show the original Kapoho Bay and the current coastline, but that line does not reproduce well on this website.  In the future, I will obtain a higher resolution USGS map, darken the line of the original coastline so the size of the new lava delta will be more easy to comprehend.  Hawaii County, Hawaii State, and federal governments are addressing the many issues with a huge number of volunteers building modest temporary wood structures on various church grounds for those displaced by the lava. Portable shower and bath trailers are arriving from Honolulu. The people of the Big Island are very resilient as we've suffered lava flows, earthquakes, tidal waves, record rainfall, and even hurricanes.  We have an outstanding Civil Defense team with centralized aid, shelter and emergency stations in place.

                   Unfortunately, we also have those who are venturing into the prohibited area and a number have been arrested.  It is too early to set up a public viewing location, especially as the prevailing and shifting winds are sending irritating and mildly toxic gasses into the area with best viewing. Please do not come expecting to see the lava activity and get in the way!

                    A large number of agricultural businesses have been impacted.  Kapoho is a major papaya district and there already is a shortage for both local or export.  The valuable nursery and flowering plant inventory and other assets were largely removed and industry leaders are assisting and making plans to relocate such businesses.  It is estimated that well over 600 homes have been covered with lava or burned, and many more have been isolated as lava has cut the roads in the Kapoho and Pohoiki areas so additional homes are now only accessible from the sea. 

            The USGS photo taken on a helicopter fly-over on shows the Halemaumau Crater looking southwest with the road on the right leading to the Hawaii Volcano Observatory and the Jaggar Museum that is perched on the crater rim.   The observation deck and the entire parking lot on the lower south side of the crater has totally collapsed into the crater.  The crater is said to be now twice as large and bottom now 1,000' below the crater rim. Large cracks have appeared throughout the region as the lava drains out, leaving the crater unsupported.  Major repairs are needed and until activity stabilizes, it is not possible to determine whether or not Jaggar Museum and Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory (whose contents have been evacuated) can ever again be opened to the public again. 


                 Volcanoes National Park has been closed for a month as steam explosions at the Kilauea Summit began sending ash clouds high into the air.  This was followed by enlargement of the magma flow down the rift zone that greatly increase the flow in Kapoho. Scientists have confirmed that current Kapoho is "new lava" coming out of the central plumbing out of the center of the earth that is being directly diverted to Kapoho. Halemaumau crater is now over 1,000' deep and cracks are developing throughout the area.  Sections of the crater walls are collapsing and the entire observation deck and parking lot on the lower end has fallen into the crater.

                 Dangerous cracks have appeared in the upper crater area that includes the primary crater observation point,  the Jaggar Museum, and the facilities of the US Geological Survey.  They have concerns, have removed artifacts, evacuated the facilities, with increasing belief that the museum will never again open to the public. 

                USGS photo taken July 14, 2018 shows the most active "Fissure 8" that has produced the most volume of lava that is in a channellized flow with the outer sides cooling and building up while the hottest lava is in the center of the channel moving at an estimated 18 miles per hour. The main mountain is over 100' high and steadily building and producing the highest historical volume of lava that travels long distances without cooling.

                USGS photo taken on July 14, 2018 shows hot lava entering the ocean over a broad 1/2-mile wide front.  The flow keeps shifting and has gone around the high historic Kapoho Crater and climbed up the sides, flowed north to claim the remaining homes near the former Kapoho Bay, then flowed south of Kapoho Crater to claim the remaining Vacation Land and Kapoho Beach Lot homes.  The flow continues to move south and has filled the warm pond at Ahalanui Park and now threatening the Pohoiki boat ramp and Isaac Hale Park. 

                 USGS July 16, 2018 map has been modified by Fuku-Bonsai to try to show the extent of the eruption that has taken place since the prior June 20, 2018 map.  The brown area shows the former coastline and the new lava delta that is now about 690 acres of new land. The red areas show the areas covered by lava between June 20 and July 16, 2018.  The large volume of lava is primarily from "Fissure 8" in Leilani Estates which travelled north in a narrow fast flowing channelized flow for several miles, then splits to both sides of the Kapoho Crater with the northern flows entering the ocean and extending the new lava delta. The southern flows claimed the remaining homes in Vacation Land and Kapoho Beach Lots and moving south along the Pohoiki coastline.  On June 20, it was estimated that lava covered 9.5 square miles and in less than a month the total area has increased to 12.5 square miles.  At this point, there are no signs of slowing activity.

                In the downrift Kapoho area, the lava continues to build new land after completely filling Kapoho Bay an covered most of the tidal pools in the Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland area.  Most homes have burned or claimed by the lava flow.  Hawaii County and volunteers are building emergency temporary living structures in cooperation with Pahoa churches and families have moved in and additional modest structures are being built in various areas by other organizations.. 

                 The eruption has also impacted many agricultural operations in that area. There is a large amount of community relief efforts on-going with a large army of volunteers. While there is maximum focus on addressing immediate emergency issues, some planning has begun to develop longer-term post eruption planning on a larger scale that is equal or larger than the Kaikoo Redevelopment that reshaped Hilo following the 1960 Tidal Wave that wiped out most of the city of Hilo.

                  USGS photo August 5, 2018.  An over-flight shows that there is greatly reduced activity at Fissure 8 that since May 3, produced the greatest volume of flow.  The photo shows no new flowing lava, that the channel has emptied out, and the channel has crusted over.  In past such eruptions, there have been pauses so scientists are cautiously adopted a "wait-and-see" and hesitate to say the eruption has ended.  At the summit, Volcanoes National Park remains closed.  Volcano Highway 11 has developed cracks and at times it has been reduced to one line and governmental leaders are planning alternative roads if necessary. 

                   To date, there have been no loss of life and the community is working very calmly and efficiently to help in all possible ways. Volunteers are building small temporary housing units while many are living in tents, at the emergency shelters or with friends and family. There is a spirit of community pride and confidence as various organizations and groups are stepping forward to assist.

                  East Hawaii was once the best kept secret in Hawaii but no more.  We're the fastest growing district in Hawaii State because land is more affordable than anywhere else in the state. But don't expect to be served and please don't bring your problems and bad attitudes.  This is the low-key land of opportunity and we need those who come with a positive attitude and a willingness to work with others to create decent paying jobs! 

                 On behalf of the people of the Big Island's East Hawaii,  I thank everyone for their concerns, good wishes and donations to help the most affected.  As a community, we are appreciative of the interest, concerns, and the assistance we are receiving. MAHALO!  ~~~David 


               For more information, go to  

                 PERSPECTIVE COMMENTS:  Although the situation in the immediate area is increasingly serious, less than 15 square miles of one end of just one island is affected and that's just 1% or less of the State of Hawaii.  Life goes on in the rest of the state. Historically,  Hawaiian volcanoes are visually spectacular but are unlike the current Guatemala explosive eruption killed many. In contrast,  visitors have enjoyed visiting Hawaii and viewing the volcanic activity that began in 1983!

                 Clearly this current activity is producing more volume than the 1960 flow.  Such downrift eruptions has historically signaled the end of the current eruption series that began at Kilauea summit in 1983 and is perhaps the longest continuous eruption in historic times.  This eruption will likely produce another large cinder cone similar to the one created by the 1960 Kapoho flow. This lowest area of the rift zone has numerous ancient cinder cones which is a reminder that the current volcanic activity is following a historic pattern.

                 Due to the desire to live in Hawaii, in the future, if allowed, developers may try to create cheap but high-risk residential subdivisions on the 1960 Kapoho flow or even on the current flow! It is not likely such residential subdivisions will be allowed. It is likely that the current 1983 eruption cycle will be ending soon and Hawaii will be a more interesting place to visit.  There is already some talk of rezoning the area to allow rebuilding a lower-cost vacation rental village once the eruption ends, the lava cools down, and it is possible to rebuild in this beautiful area! Rezoning will likely increase the value of the land, allow current residents to sell and move to somewhere else, create a larger potential visitor industry for the Big Island's East Hawaii, and produce enlarged tax income to help fund emergency expenses and to help those who lost their homes to resettle elsewhere.

                 Some say this "disaster" may be an "opportunity!" Stay tuned but know that Hawaiian volcanic history is repeating itself, that pragmatic politics may soon be at work, and that high-risk capitalism has begun positioning to emerge once the flow cools!

                 The large district of Puna is the fastest growing part of Hawaii State primarily due to having the lowest land costs.  In 1958, just a year before Hawaii Statehood,  12,000 acres of what was considered worthless lava land was subdivided into 4,000 three-acre lots and sold very cheaply as the Hawaiian Acres subdivision. Then there were no subdivision standards and "roads" were a little more than lines drawn on a map and unpaved.  There were no phones, water, or utilities but the lots sold! 

                  Within a few years, others followed and in a relatively short time, there were over 80,000 lots of various sizes on an island with about 80,000 residents. These "private subdivisions" dominate Puna and they are the lowest cost affordable land in Hawaii and have varying levels of risk. The greater the risk the lower the costs. Puna is fast-growing and will  soon be larger than Hilo.  But while land is lowest cost,  there are limited jobs or other opportunities.

                  If you plan to visit the Big Island,  visitors are advised to stay out of the eruption area.  More information can be found at:    (Note:  this link sometimes does not work; but sometimes does when you copy and paste it into your browser.  To see how the eruption progressed go to the Maps section)

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