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Photo & Video Chronology


USGS-HVO photos and videos are in the public domain and can be freely downloaded from the HVO website (click on a photo to open a full resolution copy). Please credit "U.S. Geological Survey" for any imagery used.

January 19, 2018
Rockfalls trigger explosions in Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake

This video shows a rockfall and subsequent explosion that occurred at 7:03 a.m. HST today within the "Overlook crater" at the summit of Kīlauea. This collapse was followed by a smaller rockfall at 7:07 a.m. (not shown in video). Rocks falling into the lava lake agitated the lake surface and caused the lake to "slosh" back-and-forth for at least 15 minutes following the collapse. Explosive events triggered by rockfalls, like those this morning, occur with no warning and are one of the reasons why the Halema‘uma‘u crater rim area remains closed to the public. Fallout from today's explosion would have resulted in serious injury to anyone on the impacted crater rim.

"Dimples" in the Pele's hair that has accumulated on the rim of Halema‘uma‘u are evidence of ballistic impacts during today's rockfall-triggered explosion in Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake. Spatter (fragments of molten lava) blasted from the lava lake landed all around HVO's thermal camera (HTcam) that monitors lake activity. Fortunately, the camera escaped damage, so thermal images of the lava lake can still be viewed on HVO's webcam page (https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/webcam.html?webcam=HTcam).

Spatter up to about 30 cm (11.8 in) in size was hurled onto the rim of Halema‘uma‘u during today's explosive events. Some fragments were thrown or blown farther downwind, reaching as far as the closed section of Crater Rim Drive in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The boot of an HVO scientist, who entered the area to check on HVO's webcameras, is shown here for scale.
January 5, 2018
Scattered breakouts remain active on the coastal plain and upper 61g flow field

Kīlauea's 61g flow on Pūlama Pali and the coastal plain continues, with scattered breakouts at the base of the pali. The closest active lava is roughly 2.5 km (1.6 miles) from the emergency road, and 0.6 km (0.4 mile) out from the base of the pali.

The episode 61g Kamokuna lava delta remains inactive. The only observed change was a pile of rubble at the base of the older sea cliff (black arrow). This was formed by a collapse of the solidified lava falls from one of the cliff breakouts during the second half of 2017.

Left: A HVO geologist at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō takes GPS measurements at a webcam and thermal camera. Right: HVO geologists at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō prepare GPS equipment so they can take latitude, longitude and elevation measurements. These measurements were taken at location's that are easily visible in aerial photographs so they can be georeferenced.
December 29, 2017
Episode 61g breakouts continue near the base of the pali

Geologists in the field on Friday, December 29, found active lava breakouts roughly 330 m (0.2 mile) out from the base of Pūlama Pali, and approximately 2.9 km (1.8 miles) from the emergency road. As these pāhoehoe fingers reached the edge of a ground crack, lava cascaded over a meter (yard) down.

Left: Just a few minutes after the initial lava cascades began, a large section of the pāhoehoe crust broke away, exposing the molten center of the flow. Lava quickly poured from the flow as it filled in the ground crack. This surface flow, which was near the base of the pali, was fed by the episode 61g breakouts that burned and covered most of a large kipuka over the past few weeks. A few remnants of the kipuka are visible on the pali in the background. Right: A telephoto image of lava pouring from the center of a pāhoehoe flow. As molten lava flowed out from beneath the solidified pāhoehoe surface, the new flow quickly formed a new crust, changing colors from bright orange to shiny silver as the lava started to solidify.

Video of the December 29, 2017, pāhoehoe breakout on the coastal plain.
December 21, 2017
Channelized breakouts on the pali

Channelized breakouts were active on the pali today, feeding a small ‘a‘ā flow moving through the remains of a kipuka.

A close up of the ‘a‘ā flow texture, showing the fluid, incandescent interior as well as the rubbly clinker.

Left: Looking down on the small channelized ‘a‘ā flow moving through the kipuka. Right: ‘A‘ā and pāhoehoe lava on the steep portion of the pali.

Breakouts were also active on the coastal plain, close to the base of the pali. Here, an HVO geologist marks a GPS waypoint.

This video clip shows the ‘a‘ā flow in the kipuka, as well as the small channels on the pali.
December 15, 2017
Recent collapses into Kīlauea's summit lava lake

Collapses within Halema‘uma‘u's lava lake are common, especially when the lake level drops and the new veneer (coating of lava) peels from the walls. Recently, there were two larger collapses that removed thin slices of the older lithic wall, and slightly changed the size and geometry of the lava lake. The collapses were not large enough to produce explosive events, but did trigger seismic signals and lake surface agitation along with spattering for tens of minutes. This photo from a Halema‘uma‘u time-lapse camera was taken on December 12 and shows the approximate areas (dashed yellow lines) that collapsed on December 5 at 4:40 am (right), and December 7 at 6:56 pm (left).

An image from a Halema‘uma‘u time-lapse camera taken on December 5 at 4:41 am, just after the collapse. The portion of the rim that fell into the Halema‘uma‘u lava lake triggered intense spattering on the lake margin where the material impacted the lake. The collapse also agitated the entire surface of the lava lake, breaking up the crustal plates into many small ones.
December 12, 2017
Clear views at Kīlauea's summit and East Rift Zone eruptions

Kīlauea Volcano's episode 61g East Rift Zone eruption remains active. A breakout from upper Pūlama Pali is sending surface flows into the kipuka (vegetated area in photos center) on the steep part of the pali. The flows are burning the vegetation as they continue downslope through the kipuka. Surface flows remain active on the coastal plain, with the closest active breakouts approximately 2 km (1.2 miles) from the emergency road. Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō is degassing in the upper center of the photo, and Mauna Kea (right) and Mauna Loa (left) are visible behind it.

Today was sunny and clear, providing views of Mauna Loa (background), the Halema‘uma‘u summit plume from Kīlauea's summit (center, at the base of Mauna Loa), and the ongoing Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō eruption site, which hosts a lava pond west of the main crater.

Today's helicopter overflight of Kīlauea showed that there is no more lava activity occurring at the Kamokuna delta. Sediment from the temporary beaches is being washed away, giving a lighter color to the ocean.

A geologist at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō takes a GPS measurement to find the location's latitude, longitude and elevation above sea level. The measurement is needed to track the changes in level of the west pit lava pond (west pit in background).

Aerial view of the Halema‘uma‘u lava lake at Kīlauea's summit. Two spattering sources are active along the south and west walls. Recent rock falls have slightly enlarged the lake to the north, giving it a kidney bean shape.

At Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō there have been no major changes within the crater. Kona winds blew the gas plume to the northeast, providing a clear view up the east rift zone. Behind Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, Kamoamoa, Nāpau Crater and Mauna Ulu are in sight. Near the base of Mauna Loa (upper right) the Halema‘uma‘u summit plume is faintly visible.
Kamokuna Delta

Today's helicopter overflight of Kīlauea showed that there is no more lava activity occurring at the Kamokuna delta or on the coastal plain behind it. Sediment from the temporary beaches is being washed away, giving a lighter color to the ocean.
December 6, 2017
61g breakouts on coastal plain

On Tuesday, December 5, while mapping the 61g lava flow field, HVO geologists found that the active breakouts closest to the emergency route were 1.8 km (1.1 miles) from the gravel road. This spiny pāhoehoe breakout was small, about one meter (yard) in size, and weak.

Left: Near the base of the pali and eastern 61g flow margin, HVO geologists observed a breakout from an inflating tumulus (upper left). As pāhoehoe lava flowed from the tumulus, it cooled and crusted over. But this crust could not contain the amount of lava being supplied to the flow, and molten lava subsequently broke through it. Right: A telephoto view of the small river of lava that formed after the flows' internal pressure fractured the pāhoehoe crust. This river is fed by the evacuation of lava from the molten interior of the flow, which created a cavity beneath the crust (top center).

HVO geologist taking photos and making observations of an active pāhoehoe breakout. The active breakouts observed yesterday (December 5) on the coastal plain were all being fed by the eastern tube (labeled in photo) from the June 26 breakout. The main 61g lava tube has also been supplying some coastal plain breakouts, but within a smaller area at the base of Pūlama Pali.
61G Lava Breakout

Video of an active breakout of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō episode 61G lava flow. This breakout is below the pali on the eastern margin of the flow. Pāhoehoe lava is flowing out from the base of an inflated tumulus, and has a characteristic blue tint to its surface crust (compared to the color of solidified lava around it).
November 22, 2017
Changes at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō and views of the 61g flow

Today at Kīlauea Volcano's episode 61g Kamokuna lava delta, there was no lava entering the ocean or breakouts on the delta. The tiny tube breakout that started over the weekend, approximately 840 m (0.5 mile) from the emergency road, was weakly active today. Closer to the base of the pali, there were more active surface flows, as well as on and above the pali.

This thermal image shows the lack of active breakouts or lava streams on the Kamokuna lava delta, which has been inactive for several days. Farther upslope, scattered breakouts are active on the coastal plain and pali.

Left: A channelized flow broke out on Pūlama Pali today from the eastern tube (June 26 breakout). This flow quickly advanced down the steep part of the pali. Right: A telephoto view of the channelized breakout source on Pūlama Pali. While the fluid lava rushes downslope, gas escapes through bubbles at the surface (seen near the breakout point). As the lava cools, it forms a crust which develops over the channel starting along the edges. If the breakout persists, it could completely crust over to form a lava tube.

Left: A view of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Crater looking west, with the main crater in the center of the photo. In the background the west pit - which has an active lava pond inside - can be seen adjacent to the larger crater. The northeast spillway vent is in the lower right. A lava stream was previously visible inside this pit, but no lava could be seen on today's overflight. Right: Telephoto view of one of the spattering sites on the west pit lava pond margin, in Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater. Molten spatter is being thrown in the air, and landing on the thick pond crust. Solidified pieces of spatter around the source on both the pond surface and the ledge above have a mottled appearance.

Today, HVO geologists performed routine maintenance on Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō webcams. This photo is taken on the north rim of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō looking south into the main crater, which is heavily fuming in the background.

This video shows the channelized flow that was active on the pali today.
November 20, 2017
Typical lava lake activity at Kīlauea Volcano's summit

Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake activity over the past few days has been typical, with intermittent sites of spattering and migration of the crust from north to south (top to bottom of image). This view of the lava lake was captured on the evening of Saturday, November 18.

Left: Spattering is common in the summit lava lake, normally at one or more sites along the lake margin. A spattering area along the northeast lake margin on Friday, November 17, is shown here. The surface crust tends to flow into the spattering area, where it sinks. This migration can produce rips and tears of the lava lake crust as it approaches the chaotic spattering zone. Right: The surface crust on the summit lava lake has many different textures, and these textures can be used to identify where portions of a crustal plate originated. For instance, in this November 20 photo, the long narrow band of striated crust that cuts across the image diagonally originated from the spreading zone in the upper left area of the photo.

This video shows typical spattering in the summit lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Spattering is driven by the bursting of large gas bubbles. The surface crust tends to flow into the spattering sites, where the crust is shredded and sinks.
November 17, 2017
Weak flows on Kamokuna delta

Over the past week, the episode 61g Kamokuna lava delta has been partially resurfaced by viscous, spiny pāhoehoe flows (darker in color). Geologists at the ocean entry today (November 17) did not see an active ocean entry, but lava has intermittently entered the ocean over the past few weeks. A few tiny, and very sluggish, breakouts were visible on the delta near the base of the cliff.