The lava lake at the summit of Kīlauea is one of several persistent lava lakes on Earth. Its accessibility allows frequent direct observations, and a robust monitoring network closely tracks subtle changes at the summit. These conditions present one of the best opportunities worldwide for understanding persistent lava lake behavior and the geophysical signals associated with open-vent basaltic eruptions.
This new USGS Scientific Investigation Report describes 2016 lava lake activity, including lake surface textures and appearance, surface motion, explosions, outgassing and most aspects of the spattering behavior. Read more in Lava lake activity at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano in 2016.
For the 10th anniversary of Kīlauea Volcano's summit eruption, USGS–Hawaiian Volcano Observatory research geologist Matt Patrick talks about his work monitoring the lava lake in the Halema'uma'u Crater. Dr. Patrick describes the explosion that created the lava lake in 2008 and points out features of the lake including the moving crustal plates, gas bursts, spatter, and collapse scars on the crater rim. Dr. Patrick also discusses hazards near the lake, such as explosions of gas and spatter, and volcanic gases, and the types of protective clothing worn by scientists who enter the closed area near the lake to collect daily lake level measurements.
View the video USGS Scientist Talks About Lava Lake in Halema'uma'u Crater or download the video from the USGS Multimedia Gallery.
Painters of early Hawaiian volcano landscapes created art that formed a cohesive body of work known as the "Volcano School." Jules Tavernier, Charles Furneaux, and D. Howard Hitchcock were probably the best known artists of this school and their paintings can be found in galleries around the world.
Many of these masterpieces are preserved in the Museum and Archive Collection of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. In this new USGS Open-File Report, the artwork is matched with the approximate date and volcanological context of the scene, showing eruptions at Kīlauea and Mauna Loa in the late 19th century. While art does not depict scenes with perfect fidelity, the detail, scope, and vivid colors portrayed by artists of the time still moves and informs. For these reasons, volcano art from this period continues to be used in modern USGS publications and is a subject of interest for volcano scientists. Learn more about the events behind the art in Volcano Art at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park—A Science Perspective.
Volcanic Air Pollution Hazards in Hawaii is an updated fact sheet that provides information on the science of Kīlauea's volcanic air pollution, known as "vog." It also addresses impacts to human health, agriculture, infrastructure, and the environment, and guides readers to relevant resources for living with vog.
Noxious sulfur dioxide gas and other air pollutants emitted from Kīlauea Volcano on the Island of Hawai‘i react with oxygen, atmospheric moisture, and sunlight to produce volcanic smog (vog) and acid rain. U.S. Geological Survey scientists, along with health professionals and local government officials are working together to better understand vog and to enhance public awareness of this hazard.
This 24-minute USGS video recounts the eruptive history of Halema‘uma‘u and tells the story of Kīlauea Volcano's current summit eruption, from its start in 2008 through today. It begins with a Hawaiian chant that expresses traditional observations of an active lava lake, and describes the formation and continued growth of the summit vent and lava lake. USGS-Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists share their insights on the eruption—how they monitor the lava lake, how and why the lake level rises and falls, why explosive events occur, the connection between Kīlauea's ongoing summit and East Rift Zone eruptions, and the impacts of the summit eruption on the Island of Hawai‘i and beyond.
Lava flows from Mauna Loa volcano, on the Island of Hawai‘i, constitute a significant hazard to people and property. This report addresses those lava flow hazards, mapping 18 potential lava inundation zones on the island.
Published as USGS Scientific Investigations Map 3387, it is now available online, and includes an index map (shown here), nine inundation zone maps, and a pamphlet that provides guidance on how to interpret the maps.