Lava flow from Kilauea in Hawai’i

June 6th, 2018 |

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

The Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawai’i continued to be active into early June 2018 — and GOES-15 (GOES-West) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) imagery (above) showed the thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (black to yellow to red enhancement) associated with lava flows from active fissures in the East Rift Zone on 06 June.

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) showed clouds of steam from the East Rift Zone drifting to the south-southwest; a hazy plume of volcanic fog or “vog” was also evident, which was being transported farther to the southwest by the northeasterly trade wind flow.

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

A Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) image at 2307 UTC (below) showed clear skies over Kapoho on the eastern tip of the Big Island, with steam plumes from the active East Rift Zone fissures flowing southwestward.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) image [click to enlarge]

The corresponding VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image (below) helped to discriminate between the hot brightness temperatures of recent (and old) lava flows and the cooler brightness temperatures exhibited by regions of vegetation.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image [click to enlarge]

A closer look at the Kilauea East Rift Zone (below) provided a detailed view of the recent lava flow and active fissures, including the lava field that entered and covered Kapoho Bay a few days earlier. Note the appearance of numerous multi-colored pixels in the center of the lava field — the 3.74 µm I04 band detectors on the VIIRS instrument saturate around 385 K, so the hottest lava features which exceeded that brightness temperature threshold ended up being displayed as cold pixels (the so-called “wrap-around” effect). There is a Moderate-resolution M13 band (4.05 µm) on VIIRS which saturates at a much hotter 700 K; while it is a lower spatial resolution (750 meters, vs 375 meters for the I04 band), the M13 band can be useful for sampling the actual temperature of very hot features such as lava flows or wildfires.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Thanks to Jordan Gerth (CIMSS) and Eric Lau (NWS Pacific Region Headquarters) for providing the VIIRS imagery for this case.

Update: This link shows Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2 imagery before and after the Kapoho Bay lava flow.

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