VHP Photo Glossary: Lava lake

Lava lake atop Kupaianaha vent, Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i

Photograph by E.W. Wolfe on 16 December 1986

Lava lake

Lava lakes are large volumes of molten lava, usually basaltic, contained in a vent, crater, or broad depression. Scientists use the term to describe both lava lakes that are molten and those that are partly or completely solidified. Lava lakes can form (1) from one or more vents in a crater that erupts enough lava to partially fill the crater; (2) when lava pours into a crater or broad depression and partially fills the crater; and (3) atop a new vent that erupts lava continuously for a period of several weeks or more and slowly builds a crater higher and higher above the surrounding ground.

Image shows an aerial view of a lava lake atop the Kupaianaha vent on the east rift zone of Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i. The fume rising from the end of the narrow part of the lava lake marks the beginning of a lava tube.

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