Current activity at Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano is concentrated on the Kahauale’a 2 lava flow. The flow is encroaching on ohia lehua forest that is anywhere from 200 to 750 years old (the underlying prehistoric lava flows are not precisely dated). Despite being less than a kilometer (3,300 feet) from Pu’u ’O’o—the center of the eruption since 1983—the forest had escaped unscathed until now. The majority of the lava from Pu’u ’O’o has flowed south towards the ocean (like the Peace Day lava flow, which is currently active), rather than north into the interior of Hawaii.
This pair of satellite images shows the lava flows in false-color (combining shortwave infrared, near infrared, and green light) on August 9, 2013 (top), and September 7, 2013 (lower). The hot surface of the flows radiate shortwave infrared light, which appears red in the images. Green indicates vegetation. Rocky lava flows (up to 50 years old, too young for significant regrowth of vegetation) are black. Clouds are white or bright blue-green.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data from the NASA EO-1 team. Caption by Robert Simmon.