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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.

May 21, 2018
Fissure complex continues to erupt and lava flows enter the sea

Left: Aerial view of erupting fissure 22 and lava channels flowing southward from the fissure during an early morning overflight. View is toward the southwest. Photo courtesy of Volcano Helicopters. Right: Lava fountain at fissure 22, 9:03 a.m. HST, from the north side the fissure complex. Geologists report this morning the lava fountain as high as about 50 m (164 ft).

Left: Lava continues to enter the sea at two locations this morning. During this morning's overflight, the wind was blowing the "laze" plumes along the shoreline toward the southwest. Right: Helicopter overflight of Kīlauea Volcano's Lower East Rift Zone shows fountaining at Fissure 22.

Fissure fountains feed lava flows, as shown in this overflight video of the Fissure 20 complex on May 21, 2018, around 7:20 AM, HST. The video concludes with a view of the bifurcating lava channels that merge closer to the coast (and split again before ocean entry). The white laze plume is the site of ocean entry.

Lava spatter and splashing build cones at Fissure 22, in Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone. This video from May 21, 2018, ~8:50 AM, HST, shows how splashing and spattering lava builds cones around fissure sites. The height of the cone at the lower fountain (to the left) is about 14 m (~45 ft). The height of the large lava fountain in the middle is about 46 m (~150 ft).

By the end of the afternoon, only a single ocean entry was active. The lava channel originates from fissure 22. This photo was taken during a late afternoon overflight of the lower East Rift Zone, Kīlauea Volcano.
May 20, 2018
Fissure 20 flow reaches the ocean

Late last night, the fissure 20 lava flow reached the ocean. Hot lava entering the ocean creates a dense white plume called "laze" (short for "lava haze"). Laze is formed as hot lava boils seawater to dryness. The process leads to a series of chemical reactions that result in the formation of a billowing white cloud composed of a mixture of condensed seawater steam, hydrochloric acid gas, and tiny shards of volcanic glass. This mixture has the stinging and corrosive properties of dilute battery acid, and should be avoided. Because laze can be blown downwind, its corrosive effects can extend far beyond the actual ocean entry area.

Left: Lava flows from the Fissure 20 complex move downslope and enter the ocean. Lava can be seen in the middle of the channel. A laze plume hides the point of ocean entry. Middle: Lava from the Fissure 20 complex is entering the ocean in two locations, separated by an area tens of yards wide. At the time of this early morning photo, lava flowing into the ocean entry on the eastern (left-most) lobe was diminishing while lava flowing into the ocean on the western (right-most) lobe was vigorous. Right: Lava from the fissure complex erupting in Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone entered the ocean in late evening on May 19, 2018. The active ocean entry is producing a white "laze" plume. Laze is formed when hot lava hits the ocean, forming a plume of hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles. The laze plume travels with the wind and can be a hazard for people downwind, but is most severe in the immediate vicinity of the ocean entry.

Left: A plume rises from the site of the lava ocean entry, viewed on approach by HVO scientists during an overflight of Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone on May 20, 2018, around 6:45 AM HST. Right: Lava from the Fissure 20 complex enters the ocean generating a white laze plume. Helicopter overflight on May 20, 2018, at 6:45 AM HST.

Left: View of ocean entry point from helicopter overflight on May 20, 2018, at 6:45 AM HST. Right: The helicopter hovers above the ocean entry on May 20, 2018, around 6:45 AM HST. Several braided lava channels (red) are visible on the right. The white plume is "laze," which forms when hot lava hits the ocean sending hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles into the air. Laze is a health hazard for people downwind and especially in the immediate vicinity of the plume.
Lava from the Fissure 20 complex enters a crack

Left: Lava from the eastern channel of the Fissure 20 complex flows into a crack in the ground. The crack opened in the early morning hours of May 20, 2018. Prior to opening, lava was flowing vigorously down a channel. After the crack formed, the lava began pouring into the ground. Right: Lava from the eastern channel of the Fissure 20 complex is flowing into a crack in the ground that opened on the morning of May 20, 2018. The crack is "robbing" the easternmost channel of lava and the eastern ocean entry is therefore less vigorous than the western entry point (see photos above).
Slow moving lava flow front in Kīlauea Volcano's Lower East Rift Zone

Video of a slow moving lava flow in Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone, taken May 20, 2018, at around 2:31 AM HST. The flow is ~3 m (9 ft) high. The HVO scientist mapping the flow is about ~15 m (50 ft) away from the flow front. The audio is the sound of burning vegetation and the call of coqui frogs.

Ocean entry photograph from Civil Air Patrol (CAP) overflight taken at about 12:50PM. CAP operates to support the mission of both the USGS HVO and the Hawaii County Civil Defense. Hard to discern here, but there are two entries. The coastal area spanning the entry is about 1 km (0.6 mi) wide with an about 250 m (0.15 mi) Kīpuka separating the two.
May 19, 2018
Aerial views of fissures and flows in Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone

Helicopter overflight of a fast-moving lava flow emerging from fissure 20 on May 19, at 7:52 AM HST. The flow is advancing to the southeast. Lava fountaining is visible in the background. The audio is the sound of the helicopter.

Left: Lava fountains from Fissure 20 in Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone. Photo taken May 19, 2018, at 7:37 AM, HST. Right: Channelized lava flows originate from a merged elongated fountaining source between fissures 16 and 20 in Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone.

Left: Channelized lava emerges from the elongated fissure 16-20 (in the upper right). Photo taken May 19, 2018, at 8:18 AM HST. Right: Helicopter overflight of Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift zone on May 19, 2018, around 8:18 AM, HST. ‘A‘ā lava flows emerging from the elongated fissure 16-20 form channels. The flow direction in this picture is from upper center to the lower left.

Helicopter overflight of the southeast coast of the Puna district during the early morning hours of May 19, 2018. Flows are moving downslope toward the ocean. Photograph courtesy of the Hawai`i County Fire Department.
Overnight activity at fissure 20

Spattering and lava flow at fissure 20 on May 19, 2018, around 3:45 AM, HST. The audio is the sound of lava fountaining.

Spattering and lava flow along north side of fissure 20 on May 19, 2018, at 4:00 AM HST. The flashes in the foreground are from methane bursts. Lava from the large fissure in the foreground is building a small cone. The audio is the sound of lava fountaining.
Fountaining at Fissure 20

Fountaining from Fissure 20 on May 19, 2018, around 3:47 PM, HST.
May 18, 2018
Satellite images show changes to Kīlauea caldera floor, May 5–May 17

These radar amplitude images were acquired by the Italian Space Agency's Cosmo-SkyMed satellite system and show changes to the caldera area of Kīlauea Volcano that occurred between May 5 at 6:12 a.m. HST (left) and May 17 at 6:12 a.m. HST (right). The satellite transmits a radar signal at the surface and measures the strength of the reflection, with bright areas indicating a strong reflection and dark areas a weak reflection. Strong reflections indicate rough surfaces or slopes that point back at the radar, while weak reflections come from smooth surfaces or slopes angled away from the radar. The May 17 image was acquired after two small explosions from the summit eruptive vent. Major changes with respect to the May 5 image include: (1) a darkening of the terrain south of Halema‘uma‘u, which may reflect accumulation of ash over the 12-day period between the images; (2) enlargement of the summit eruptive vent on the floor of Halema‘uma‘u, from about 12 acres on May 5 to about 34 acres on May 17; and (3) the development of a small depression (area of about 15 acres) on the east rim of Halema‘uma‘u that reflects slumping of a portion of the rim towards the growing collapse pit on the crater floor.
Fissure activity increases overnight in lower East Rift Zone, Kīlauea Volcano

Left: Aerial view of the lowermost section of the active fissure system during an overflight early this morning. The view is looking toward the south; note ocean at top of photo. Fissure 17 is the on the left-hand side of photo; fissure 18 is in the middle; and fissure 20 are the two low fountaining areas in the middle right of photo. Right: Closer view of fissure 17 (middle photo) and fissure 18 (left side photo) during this morning's overflight of the area. View is toward the south.

View of the fissure system in Leilani Estates looking southwest (uprift). Fissure 17 is the lava fountain at bottom of photo, estimated to be about 50 m (164 ft) high with occasional bursts to about 100 m high (328 ft). Fissure 18 is the low fountain left of center feeding a lava flow that spreads out of view on left (south). Fissure 20 is in middle of photo, also feeding a lava flow. Note activity further uprift of fissure 20 (field reports suggest that this is fissure 15).

Spattering at Fissure 17 around 12:30 AM HST, on May 18, 2018. The audio is the sound generated by the jetting of magma and gases from the fissure.

Telephoto view of spattering at Fissure 17, in Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone, taken around 1:00 AM HST, on May 18, 2018.

Left: This morning, the line of fountains on fissure 17 coalesced into a large fountain that was sending lava 50 meters (164 feet) into the air, with small bits of spatter thrown up to 100 meters (328 feet) high. At about 12:00 p.m. HST, HVO geologists flying over the area reported that fissure 17 was going strong. Right: Fissure 18 generated a channelized lava flow that had advanced about 1 km (0.6 mi) along the west side of fissure 17 as of about noon today.

Left: This image, captured during an HVO overflight around noon today, shows a lava flow that crossed Pohoiki Road earlier. Right: Lava from fissure 15 also covered the Pohiki water line.
May 17, 2018
This morning's eruption plume captured by webcam on Mauna Loa Volcano

View of this morning's eruption plume from the Overlook crater nearly an hour after the event started. This image is from the webcam located on the north rim of Moku‘āweoweo Caldera near the summit of Mauna Loa Volcano. This image was recorded at 5:10 a.m. HST. At about 04:15 a.m. HST, an explosion from the Overlook crater at Kīlauea Volcano's summit produced an eruption column that reached at least 30,000 ft. above sea level. The plume was blown by wind toward the northeast. This resulted in ash fall at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, and nearby Volcano Village and the Volcano Golf and Country Club Subdivsion.

Left: At 7:45 a.m. HST, view of Halema‘uma‘u crater from the visitor viewing area in front of the Jaggar Muesum, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. A light coating of ash on the Park's interpretative sign resulted from ash falling to the ground from explosive events of the past day. Note the contrast of the plume rising from the Overlook vent this morning (background) with the eruption column that erupted during explosive activity in May 1924 (middle photograph on sign). Right: At 7:45 a.m. HST, only traces of ash (dark areas on white rail) remain on this fence in the Volcano Golf and Country Club Subdivsion, located 4 km (2.5 mi) from the Overlook crater in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
Cracks widen in lower East Rift Zone, Kīlauea Volcano

Left: Aerial view of ground cracks on Pohoiki Road during an overflight of the eruptive fissure area at about 7 a.m. HST. Cracks continued to open and widen, some with horizontal and vertical offsets, in the area during the past 24 hours. These cracks are caused by the underlying intrusion of magma into the lower East Rift Zone. Right: HVO geologist next to cracks on Nohea Street in Leilani Estates this morning. These cracks expanded significantly in the past day. Note the vertical offset across the cracks.

Left: At about 07:00 a.m. HST, Fissure 17 as shown from the air. The HVO field crew reported that the spattering height and intensity at Fissure 17 seemed to have intensified slightly from yesterday, but the length of active spattering in the fissure is shorter. The overall vigor of Fissure 17 appears to have dropped over the past two days, accompanying a stalling of the Fissure 17 flow front. Right: The Fissure 17 flow front has slowed substantially with only small amounts of pasty "toothpaste" lava oozing out from the flow front. However lava continues to be erupted from the active fissure. This lava appears to be accumulating within the flow and has widened the flow margins slightly.
Video of small explosions at Fissure 17 yesterday, May 16

Video: For the past several days, intermittent small explosions have occurred at the west end of Fissure 17. These explosions throw large pieces of spatter to a height of about 150 m (500 ft).
New fissure erupts between fissures 3 and 7, Leilani Estates

At 3:00 p.m. HST, aerial view of a new erupting fissure (21, located between fissure 3 and 7) and lava flow in Leilani Estates. This view is toward the west. HVO geologists will track the changing activity through the night.
May 16, 2018
Lower East Rift Zone Fissures Continue Erupting

Left: Lava spattering area from an area between fissures 16 and 20 photographed at 8:20 a.m. today. Right: Same area between fissures 16 and 20 at 9:33 a.m. By the time geologists reached the site on foot, the spattering had died down and they were only hearing gas rushing sounds.

View uprift from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory overflight this morning at 8:25 a.m. Note sulfur dioxide plumes rising from the fissures along the rift and accumulating in the cloud deck. Winds are calm today.

This video shows spattering at fissure 18, Kīlauea Volcano's Lower East Rift Zone, at approximately 2:00 AM HST on May 16, 2018. The audio captures the sounds of explosions and burning vegetation.

Aerial view (from a helicopter) of spattering between fissures 16 and 20, Kīlauea Volcano Lower East Rift Zone, at approximately 7:30 AM HST on May 16, 2018. The audio is the sound of the helicopter.
Explosive event last night hurled rocks onto Kīlauea crater floor

Close view of rock hurled from the Overlook crater during an explosive event last evening. The rock broke apart on impact, and was about 60 cm (24 in) before it hit the ground. The location is a few hundred meters (yards) south of the Overlook crater at the Halema‘uma‘u parking lot. Note the ash covering the parking lot, less than about 1 cm (0.4 in) in thickness.
May 15, 2018
Ash plume at Kīlauea summit nearly continuous this morning

Left: Activity at Halema‘uma‘u crater increased this morning to include the nearly continuous emission of ash with intermittent stronger pulses that form occasional higher plumes 1-2 kilometers (3,000 to 6,000 feet) above the ground. This photo shows the ash plume at about 9 a.m. HST. Tradewinds this morning are blowing the ash generally to the southwest toward the Ka`u Desert. The dark area to the right of the ash column rising from the Overlook crater is ash falling from the ash cloud to the ground. Right: Ash plume viewed from the Volcano Golf Course near Volcano, Hawai‘i. This view is nearly due north of the Halema‘uma‘u crater.

At 11:43 HST, Civil Air Patrol flight CAP20 reported plume tops at about 9,500 ft with the dispersed plume rising as high as 11,000 ft. The CAP mission was launched from Hilo in support of Hawai‘i County Civil Defense and USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory response to the ongoing eruption. Ash from this plume was reported falling on communities downwind. Information on ash hazards and how to prepare can be found here: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanic_ash/
Lower East Rift Zone Fissure Activity Continues

Left: Incandescence observed at Fissure 14 around 10:30 a.m. HST. Pulsing, gas-rushing sounds could be heard coming from the crack. Yellow sulfur deposits appear on the crack margins. Right: Highly viscous (sticky) lava oozes from the edge of the ‘a‘ā flow spreading slowly from fissure 17.

Left: At 11:05 a.m. HST. Photograph from the Jaggar Museum, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, captures an ash plume rising from the Overlook crater. Ash falling from the plume can be seen just to the right side (and below) the plume. Right: At 1:38 p.m. HST, another dark ash plume rose from the Overlook crater. During a flight earlier today by the Civil Air Patrol, the height of the ash plumes near the crater rose to more than 3 km (9,800 ft) above sea level, and downwind the plumes continued to rise to about 3.5 km (11,500 ft) above sea level.

Left: At 1:38 p.m. HST, ash falls from the plume southwest from Halema‘uma‘u crater onto the Kau desert. The northeast tradewinds were persistent today at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano, so ash was only blown southwest. Right: At 1:38 p.m. HST. A telephoto photo from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory looking toward the southwest shows gray ash blanketing the Kau Desert landscape.
May 14, 2018

Left: 7:00 a.m., HST. An early morning view of fissure 17, still erupting and supplying lava to a flow that was still advancing (out of view). View is looking toward the east. Right: At 8:44 a.m., HST. Aerial view of the active ‘a‘ā flow spreading from fissure 17 (the fissure's low lava fountains can be seen in middle of photo). Highway 132 can be seen on right side of photograph. View is toward the west. Photograph courtesy of the Hawai`i County Fire Department.

Left: Around 2:30 p.m. HST, a steam jet appears on fissure 17, above the area with active fountaining. Steam jets at this location were repeating about once a minute. Right: At 2:30 p.m. HST, the flow front of Fissure 17 continues down slope. The barren, brown area to the right in the photograph is a lobe of the Kii Flow from the eruption of 1955. The Fissure 17 flow front is located approximately .7 miles makai of Highway 132 and is 1.4 miles mauka of Hwy 137.
May 13, 2018

Left: At 8:00 a.m. HST. A slow sticky a'a flow emerges from a new fissure just over a half mile northeast of the end of Hinalo Street. The new fissure - fissure 17 - is about one half mile south of Hwy 132. Some reports have referred to this fissure as number 18 but that is not correct. Fissure 18 had not erupted by this time. Right: At 10:31 a.m. HST. Cracks on Hwy 132 marked with orange spray paint to track changes through time.

Left: At 2:00 p.m. HST. View of Fissure 17 looking makai (southward) from Hwy 132. Right: At 2:00 p.m. HST. This photo reveals a small pad of lava between Fissures 16 and 17 which did not appear in photos of the same scene taken this morning. (Red arrow points to the lava pad.) From the photo it appears that this fissure had stagnated. We have designated this small outbreak as Fissure 18.

Aerial view of fissure 17 around 4:30 p.m. HST. On the west end of the flow, intermittent percussive jetting threw spatter and lava bombs up to 500 feet above the ground. East margin of the ‘a‘ā flow was cascading into a pit or graben.

Left: At 2:56 p.m. HST. Aerial photo of fumes from fissures and an active ‘a‘ā flow, blown southward during tradewind conditions. This view is looking toward the west. Photo courtesy of Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Right: At 2:54 p.m., HST. Aerial photo of the fissures and associated plumes. This view is toward the east. The CAP mission was launched from Hilo in support of Hawai‘i County Civil Defense and USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory response to the ongoing eruption.
May 12, 2018
New fissure (number 16) erupts this morning, northeast of fissures 1-15

Left: Aerial view of fissure 16 (bottom right) that erupted this morning beginning just before 7:00 a.m. HST. The fissure is located roughly along the alignment of the earlier fissures (steam in top left photo) and 1.3 km (0.8 miles) northeast of fissure 15 and Pohoiki Road. Photograph courtesy of Hawi`i County Fire Department. Right: At 08:27 a.m. HST, aerial view of fissure 16, located about 1.3 km (0.8 miles) northeast of fissure 15 (top left). The fissure is located 500 m northeast of the Puna Geothermal Venture site (top right). Photograph courtesy of Hawai`i County Fire Department.
New 3D model of the drained crater at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō

During an overflight on May 11, we collected thermal images of the crater at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō and created an updated 3D model of the crater geometry. The collapse on April 30 produced a large cavity, with the deepest point roughly 350 m (1150 feet) below the crater rim.

At 12:57 p.m. HST, lava was slowly advancing from fissure 16.

VIDEO: Fissure 16 eruption at 12:57 p.m. HST on May 12, 2018. Video by Cheryl Gansecki, University of Hawaii.

At 18:14 HST, HVO received this photo from a Hawaii County Fire Department overflight, showing steaming areas downrift from fissure 16, which developed into fissure 17.