The summit area of Kīlauea Volcano has undergone significant changes since April 2018. On April 21, the lava lake within HALEMAUMAU overflowed onto the crater floor as the volcano's magmatic system pressurized. On April 30, the floor of the PUUOO crater collapsed, as subsurface pressure forced open a pathway for magma to travel from PUUOO into the lower East Rift Zone. As magma moved into the lower East Rift Zone, pressure decreased in the summit's magmatic system and the lava lake level began to drop. The summit also started to deflate due to the pressure decrease.
As summit deflation (or subsidence) persisted, the number of earthquakes increased. Prior to the onset of deflation, about 10 earthquakes per day were typical at the summit. As of late June 2018, there are about 600 earthquakes located in the same region on a daily basis. Many of these earthquakes are strong enough to be felt, and some can be damaging. These earthquakes are understandably causing concern, especially in Volcano Village and surrounding subdivisions. These Frequently Asked Questions about KILAUEA Volcano's Summit Earthquakes will help answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the nature of Kīlauea's summit activity, and the numerous earthquakes that are occurring in the area.
On June 18, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory staff said a sad goodbye to a GPS instrument that had faithfully recorded over 95 m (310 ft) of downward motion of the floor of KILAUEA caldera before losing radio contact. The GPS instrument, called NPIT, first started moving downward in early May at the onset of subsidence at KILAUEA's summit. However on June 8, NPIT's motion picked up dramatically. This was when a portion of the caldera floor north of Halema'uma'u, where NPIT was located, began to slump into the crater. Over the next ten days NPIT GPS recorded down-dropping of 6-8 m (20-25 ft) with each summit explosion event, which have been occurring almost every day. This, together with earlier displacements, added up to a position change of 95 m down, 55 m south, and 5 m east (310 ft, 180 ft, and 16 ft, respectively).
These data provide unique insight into the crater collapse process, showing us that it is occurring as a series of steps instead of as continuous motion. Drone and helicopter views confirm that NPIT is still intact and likely still recording data. Unfortunately, the large motions have now resulted in a misalignment of the radio shot between the instrument and the observatory, cutting off communication and therefore data flow from the GPS station.
At about the same time that we lost the ability to contact NPIT, HVO staff completed work to add telemetry to two temporary GPS stations on the caldera floor. These two stations, called CALS and VO46, are not located on actively slumping portions of the caldera floor and therefore do not show the dramatic downward motion that NPIT did. However, they reveal that even portions of the caldera floor away from active slumping are moving downward very quickly; by as much as 1.0 m per day (3.3 feet per day) at station CALS. The data from these new stations can be viewed on the deformation page for KILAUEA.
KILAUEA Volcano is currently erupting at two locations: from HALEMAUMAU, a crater within the summit caldera, and from the lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) in and near the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna subdivisions.
Small explosive episodes at KILAUEA's summit are a consequence of magma withdrawing from a shallow reservoir beneath the east margin of HALEMAUMAU. The eruption of lava along the LERZ resulted from the underground movement of magma eastward from the volcano's middle East Rift Zone.
GPS, tiltmeters, and satellite radar (InSAR) data captured how KILAUEA's surface has moved since the PUUOO vent collapsed on April 30, 2018. These data allow scientists to infer where magma was removed and the location to which it was transferred. In the first days following the collapse of PUUOO, the largest signals indicated contraction across the upper and middle East Rift Zone—evidence that magma was being withdrawn from this area. This was followed by expansion across the LERZ—evidence that magma was intruding into this part of the rift zone at depths of less than about 3 km (2 mi). The forceful widening of the LERZ continued through May 18, at which time a GPS site north of the intrusion stopped moving northwestward and stabilized.
In early May, days after the collapse of PUUOO, the lava lake level in HALEMAUMAU began to drop as the summit area subsided at a high rate. The lava lake surface disappeared from view on about May 10, at a depth of more than 325 m (1,070 ft) below the HALEMAUMAU crater floor.
Subsidence of the summit area continues. Between May 1 and May 24 the caldera floor subsided as much as 1.4 m (4.5 ft). The GPS station, labeled as CRIM on the edge of Kilauea's summit caldera [Fig.2], has subsided about 0.6 m (1.9 ft). Continued summit subsidence indicates that magma is moving from the summit magma reservoir and into the East Rift Zone at a higher rate than magma is entering the reservoir from below. To date, geochemical analysis of erupted lava indicates that summit magma has not yet erupted from the LERZ fissures 1-23.
You can choose the types of notifications that you wish to receive—all of them or just some of them. You can also select the volcanoes you want to hear about—you can choose HAWAII only, or volcanoes in other states as well.
For more information about these types of notifications, please see: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vhp/notifications.html.— The Civil Defense Emergency Notification System is a free service that allows you to receive timely notifications about emergency situations in the County of HAWAII. Civil Defense encourages residents and visitors to sign up so that they can be notified in case of an emergency. Standard charges for incoming calls and text messages apply. Sign up at: https://countyofhawaii.bbcportal.com.
The lava lake at the summit of KILAUEA 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 KILAUEA Volcano in 2016.
For the 10th anniversary of KILAUEA 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 HAWAII 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 KILAUEA 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 HAWAII 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 KILAUEA Volcano on the Island of HAWAII 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 HALEMAUMAU and tells the story of KILAUEA 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 KILAUEA's ongoing summit and East Rift Zone eruptions, and the impacts of the summit eruption on the Island of HAWAII and beyond.
January 2018 is the 9th annual "Volcano Awareness Month" on the Island of HAWAII. With two ongoing eruptions on KILAUEA and an inflating Mauna Loa, awareness is essential for us to live in harmony with the active volcanoes that are our island home.
During the month of January, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, in cooperation with HAWAII Volcanoes National Park, HAWAII County Civil Defense, and the University of HAWAII at Hilo will offer several programs about the volcanoes on which we live:
Lava flows from Mauna Loa volcano, on the Island of HAWAII, 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.
The probability of a destructive earthquake (magnitude-6.5 or higher) striking the Hawaiian Islands in the next 10 years is 50 percent. Are you ready for it?
We encourage you to participate in the Great Hawaii ShakeOut earthquake drill at 10:19 a.m., HST, on October 19, 2017.
This drill is a great opportunity to practice "Drop! Cover! Hold on!"—actions that will reduce injury during an earthquake.
"Earthquakes in Hawaii: What you need to know" is a slide show about Hawaii's long history of damaging earthquakes and what you can do to protect yourself and your family when the next one happens.
For more info on how to minimize the risk of injury during an earthquake, go to: "Recommended Earthquake Safety Actions in Hawaii."
Co-editors Jim Kauahikaua and Janet Babb recently published Conversing with Pelehonuamea—A workshop combining 1,000+ years of traditional Hawaiian knowledge with 200 years of scientific thought on KILAUEA volcanism.
Events surrounding volcanic eruptions and damaging earthquakes in HAWAII have often been described in journals, letters, and newspapers articles in the English language; however, many Hawaiian-language newspapers were in circulation through all but the earliest decades of the 19th century. Any modern reconstruction of the history of Hawaiian eruptions or earthquakes should take advantage of all available sources, and so we seek to add the Hawaiian-language newspaper articles, journals, stories, and chants to the volcano and earthquake literature. These sources have been used in many recent volcanological studies.
These proceedings are transcripts of oral presentations (illustrated with PowerPoint slides or charts) that were collected during a workshop in which Hawaiians and scientists came together to discuss KILAUEA volcanism. The presentations provide excellent introductions to Pelehonuamea chants, describe approaches to scientific field work that respects Hawaiian values and sacred areas, and discuss the importance of recovering and preserving Hawaiian place names.
Authors Trusdell and Lockwood published Geologic map of the northeast flank of Mauna Loa volcano, Island of Hawai‘i, Hawaii. This map refines knowledge of hazards and risks from Earth's largest active volcano. It encompasses the northeast flank of Mauna Loa from the 10,880-ft elevation to sea level, including the towns of Hilo and Volcano. The map shows the distribution of 105 lava flows from more than 30,000 years B.P. to A.D. 1984.
On March 19, 2008, a new volcanic vent opened in HALEMAUMAU at the summit of KILAUEA. Nine years later, the eruption continues. The vent has grown to a gaping crater that's roughly 195 m by 255 m (about 640 x 840 ft) in size. A lava lake within the vent rises and falls, with spattering on the lake surface sometimes visible from the Jaggar Museum Observation Deck. HVO geologist Matt Patrick recently presented an HAWAII Volcanoes National Park "After Dark in the Park" program about this ongoing eruption.
People who venture too close to KILAUEA Volcano's Kamokuna ocean entry—by land or by sea—are at risk from multiple hazards associated with lava flowing into the sea. The white plume formed by the interaction of lava and seawater is a corrosive mixture of super-heated steam, hydrochloric acid, and tiny particles of volcanic glass, all of which should be avoided. Lava deltas (new land formed at the ocean entry) can collapse without warning. Should the lava delta shown here collapse, fragments of molten lava and blocks of hot rock would be thrown both inland and seaward, potentially impacting people on the cliff above the ocean entry and in the boat in front of the delta.