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.