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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 13, 2020
HVO collaborates in conducting fieldwork on Kīlauea

On January 8, scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, University of Texas at San Antonio, and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa hiked on the lava delta that formed in Kapoho Bay during Kīlauea’s 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption. The group collected rock samples to characterize the chemistry and density of the emplaced lava, as well as its "rheology" (flow properties of lava in a liquid or near-liquid state). The rubbly lava (similar to ‘a‘ā) in the foreground consists of crustal plates from the fissure 8 lava channel that were loosely stacked as the lava slowed and cooled near the former coastline. The scientists shown here are hiking on denser "toothpaste" lava ooze-outs that were squeezed out from below the rubble, forming a characteristically spiny surface. The unstable rubble and sharp "toothpaste" surface, along with powerful waves along the coast, make for extremely hazardous hiking in this area. The scientists wore gloves and other protective gear and stayed well clear of the coastline to complete their work safely. USGS photo by M. Zoeller.
December 27, 2019
Virtual flyover of Kīlauea summit

An overflight on December 18 provided aerial photographs of Kīlauea caldera, which were used to construct a 3D model. The water pond is visible in the deepest portion of Halema‘uma‘u crater. For scale, the water pond is 189 m (650 ft) long and approximately 600 m (1970 ft) below the western caldera rim.
Timelapse video of the water pond at Kīlauea summit

This timelapse sequence shows two hours of activity at the water pond in Halema‘uma‘u, at Kīlauea's summit. Flow is evident along the sharp orange color boundary in the center of the pond, as well as along portions of the shoreline. The pond is 189 m (650 ft) long. The video was taken on the eastern rim of Halema‘uma‘u. HVO fieldwork in this closed area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is done with permission of the National Park Service to support public safety and further scientific understanding of Kīlauea Volcano. USGS video by M. Patrick.
December 18, 2019
Overflight of Kīlauea summit on December 18

On December 18, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists conducted an overflight of Kīlauea’s summit. In this view, looking southwest, large cracks are visible on Kīlauea’s caldera floor above and adjacent to the portion of Kīlauea’s caldera floor that down-dropped during the summit collapse-events of 2018. During the flight, the Kīlauea summit area was filmed with both thermal and visual cameras. When compared to previously collected imagery, the images collected on December 18 will provide information on changes at Kīlauea’s summit. USGS photo by K. Mulliken.

During an overflight of Kīlauea’s summit on December 18, HVO geologists captured this image of Kīlauea Iki crater and Pu‘u Pua‘i cone, in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The view is looking northwest from above the Byron Ledge area. Prior to the 1959 eruption of Kīlauea Iki, the crater was much deeper. The 1959 eruption filled the crater with more than 120 m (440 ft) of lava. During the eruption, the highest lava fountains ever observed in Hawaii (up to 580 m, or 1900 ft), which created the Pu‘u Pua‘i cinder cone (in the lower right corner of the image), were measured. USGS photo by K. Mulliken.

Puhimau thermal area, in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, is marked by dead vegetation in this image captured during an overflight of Kīlauea’s summit on December 18. Elevated soil temperatures within Puhimau thermal area, as well as geophysical studies, indicate that a hot and potentially partially molten magma body may underlie Puhimau thermal area, which is home to the largest naturally occurring population of the endangered plant Portulaca sclerocarpa. USGS scientists are examining the area to determine if there have been significant changes in ground temperature or gas emissions. Read more about the Puhimua thermal area in this “Volcano Watch” article: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=642. USGS photo by K. Mulliken.

Left: An HVO geologist uses a high-precision Global Positioning System (GPS) unit to collect latitude, longitude, and altitude data on a down-dropped portion of Kīlauea’s caldera. On December 18, this spot was used to better observe Kīlauea’s summit crater lake, which is visible in the background of the image. HVO fieldwork in this closed area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is done with permission of the National Park Service to support public safety and further scientific understanding of Kīlauea Volcano. USGS photo by K. Mulliken. Right: The yellow circle in the upper left corner marks where HVO scientists normally stand to make measurements of Kīlauea’s summit crater lake. From that vantage point, the far west end of the lake is obscured. On December 18, HVO geologists landed on Kīlauea caldera’s down-dropped block east of the crater lake, where views of the currently tear-drop-shaped lake were unobstructed. Bright yellow sulfur marks areas of ongoing fumarolic emissions through the talus lining the walls of Halema‘uma‘u. HVO fieldwork in this closed area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is done with permission of the National Park Service to support public safety and further scientific understanding of Kīlauea Volcano. USGS photo by K. Mulliken.

On December 18, HVO geologists landed on Kīlauea’s down-dropped block, which formed during the collapse-events of 2018. At this location, east of Halema‘uma‘u, there was an unobstructed view of Kīlauea’s growing summit crater lake. The length of the lake was approximately 189 m (650 ft) in the east-west direction, which is about the length of four Olympic-sized swimming pools. The light bluish-yellow colors of the lake are likely areas of groundwater influx. HVO fieldwork in this closed area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is done with permission of the National Park Service to support public safety and further scientific understanding of Kīlauea Volcano. USGS photo by K. Mulliken.

An HVO geologist looks through a thermal camera at Kīlauea’s summit crater lake during fieldwork on December 18. HVO has used thermal cameras for many years to better understand volcanic processes, such as emplacement and advancement of pāhoehoe lava flows, and activity at the lava lake that was present at Kīlauea’s summit from 2008-2018. With the appearance of water at Kīlauea’s summit, HVO geologists have an opportunity to study another type of process via thermal imagery, growth of a crater lake. Note the flat areas of lava flow surfaces beyond and above the lake. These are former sections of the floor of Halema‘uma‘u that subsided hundreds of meters (yards) during the 2018 collapse event. Yellow areas are regions of significant sulfur precipitation. HVO fieldwork in this closed area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is done with permission of the National Park Service to support public safety and further scientific understanding of Kīlauea Volcano. USGS photo by K. Mulliken.
December 13, 2019
HVO monitoring equipment on the north rim of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō

The communications hub at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō is precariously perched on the north rim, which is actively collapsing. This hub, and the web cam (PN cam) behind the hub (to the left of image) will very likely fall into the crater as the north rim continues to collapse. HVO already implemented a alternate communication hub for geophysical data acquisition, so there was no gap when the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō hub started tipping precariously. The hub shown above was only routing images from PN, PO, and PT web cameras which all went offline early Monday morning this week. Today's helicopter flight confirmed the hub has not fallen in yet, which means either the antenna signal is blocked from the hub or that the solar panels are no longer able to recharge the batteries powering the antenna. USGS photo by C. Parcheta.

A time-lapse camera was reinstalled on the south rim of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō to document the continuing collapse of the north rim. Today the crater was too steamy to see the north rim, but the camera will capture the sequence of events when visibility is improved. This camera is not telemetered in real-time. USGS photo by C. Parcheta.
December 12, 2019
Measuring Kīlauea summit lake on December 12

The large rock that was visible at the eastern end of Kīlauea’s summit crater lake on November 28 (marked by a white circle on left photo) is now submerged, and the water level continues to slowly rise. Today (right photo), the distance between the water surface and the tripod on the crater rim was measured at about 601 m (1972 ft). USGS photo by K. Mulliken, 12-12-2019.

HVO scientists continue to monitor Kīlauea's summit lake on near-daily trips. A laser rangefinder is used to measure the distance between the lake surface and the person holding the laser rangefinder on the crater rim, allowing the slow rise of the crater lake to be tracked through time. USGS photo by K. Mulliken, 12-12-2019.
Keller Well measurements and water sampling on December 10

Left: On Tuesday, December 10 HVO staff visited Keller Well, a deep borehole at the summit of Kīlauea, to take quarterly measurements and samples. This photo shows an extra long measuring tape, which has a sensor attached to the end, being lowered into the well to measure the distance to the top of the water table. The depth to the water was measured at approximately 511 m (1677 ft) below the ground surface, which is nearly 20 ft (6 m) deeper than the last measurement taken on September 24. USGS photo by L. DeSmither. Right: After collecting a sample from the well using the narrow sampler shown, HVO staff transfer the water sample into a container. The water is collected periodically for chemical analyses so that changes in the water composition can be tracked. For more information about the Keller Well, please see HVO's Dec. 20, 2018, "Volcano Watch" article: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=1396. USGS photo by L. DeSmither.
November 29, 2019
Halema‘uma‘u water pond on November 28

Measured from a vertical distance of about 603 m (1978 ft)—from water surface to the top of the tripod on the crater rim—the dimensions of the crater lake in Halema‘uma‘u were around 71-72 m (233-236 ft) north-south and 157-158 m (515-518 ft) east-west on November 28. The ongoing rise in water level is noticeable when the two photos, taken three days apart, are compared. USGS photos by D. Swanson.
November 27, 2019
Reconnaissance videos taken prior to the October 26 water sampling mission

Prior to the Unoccupied Aircraft System (UAS) mission that collected a water sample from Halema‘uma‘u at Kīlauea's summit on October 26, reconnaissance UAS missions were flown. This video, taken over a period of 15 minutes, has been sped up 7 times to show the UAS as it approaches Halema‘uma‘u from the southwest. The UAS reaches the northeast portion of the lake, surveys the area where the water sample was later collected, and then returns to the launch area. Limited UAS flights in this area are conducted with permission from and in coordination with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The information is used to assess hazards at Kīlauea's summit, and is shared with the National Park Service and emergency managers.

The Unoccupied Aircraft System (UAS) that collected water from the crater lake in Halema‘uma‘u on October 26 was outfitted with both visual and infrared (thermal) cameras. This reconnaissance video shows fumarolic activity on the walls of the crater. Fumaroles appear light in color (yellow and white) in the visual imagery due to alteration of the crater wall rock. In the thermal image (upper left inset), lighter colors indicate warmer temperatures associated with the fumaroles. Limited UAS flights in this area are conducted with permission from and coordination with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The information is used to assess hazards at Kīlauea's summit and is shared with the National Park Service and emergency managers.

In this October 26 reconnaissance survey, the Unoccupied Aircraft System (UAS) reaches the northeast part of the Halema‘uma‘u crater lake, where large rocks at the lake margin are often used to visually track the rising water level. Taken over a period of about 5.5 minutes, the survey is shown at 3 times the speed it was filmed. Limited UAS flights into this hazardous area are conducted with permission from and coordination with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The information is used to assess hazards at Kīlauea’s summit and is shared with the National Park Service and emergency managers. Footage is courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Aviation Services.
November 22, 2019
HVO field engineers install new telemetry hub

Left: When a crack near an existing data-telemetry hub on Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō was observed to be growing over several weeks, HVO prepared a contingency hub that could be rapidly installed if/when necessary. On November 15, 2019, after a portion of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater rim collapsed, further threatening the existing telemetry hub, HVO field engineers deployed the contingency hub nearby. USGS photo by C. Moniz. Right: In response to a collapse on the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater rim, which threatened the existing data-telemetry hub, HVO field engineers rapidly deployed and installed a new hub nearby. Telemetry hubs transmit important data from monitoring instruments on the volcano to HVO scientists, providing them information they need to track changes on Kīlauea. USGS photo by K. Calles.
November 21, 2019
Continued slow rise of water level at bottom of Halema‘uma‘u

The water at the bottom of Halema‘uma‘u, a crater at Kīlauea's summit, continues to slowly rise. During HVO's early morning observations today, the southern portion of the crater was in shadow, but the water lake looked similar to previous days, with the water surface yellow-green in color and steaming distributed across the lake surface. USGS photo by M. Patrick.

Photos taken two weeks apart show the rise of water in Halema‘uma‘u. A white arrow denotes a large rock along the edge of the lake for comparing water levels in the two images. The water continues to rise at a rate of approximately 15 cm (6 in) per day. USGS photos by M. Patrick.
November 20, 2019
USGS scientists monitor gases on Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone

On November 8, 2019, USGS volcano scientists visited Kīlauea's Lower East Rift Zone to measure ambient gases, as well as the soil carbon dioxide (CO2) flux and temperature. This photo, looking in a southeast direction, shows some steaming uprift of the 2018 fissure system. Steaming in this area is the result of continued migration of heat due to movement of subsurface ground water as the area recovers from the 2018 eruption. USGS image by P. Nadeau.

Left: USGS scientists measured gases in an area uprift of the 2018 fissure system on November 8. In this area, vegetation has died because of lingering heat and steam. In some areas of Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone, residents report smelling gases that are likely generated by decaying organic matter rather than magma degassing. USGS image by P. Nadeau. Right: During their work on Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone, USGS scientists used a closed chamber to measure carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted directly from the ground near a steaming crack. HVO continues to track changes along Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone since the 2018 eruption ended. You can read more about lingering heat and gases on Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone in a recent "Volcano Watch" article: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=1421. USGS image by P. Nadeau.
USGS scientists investigate Puhimau thermal area on Kīlauea

During November 4-6, an interdisciplinary group of USGS scientists, including an ecologist, a botanist, and volcano scientists, collected gas samples for chemical and isotopic analyses and measured soil carbon dioxide (CO2) flux and temperature. The data will be used to create CO2 flux and temperature maps, which will be compared to earlier studies to assess changes in the Puhimau thermal area in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park over the last several decades. USGS image by P. Nadeau.

Left: During their Nov. 4-6 study, USGS scientists collected gas from the Puhimau thermal area in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Samples will be analyzed for bulk chemistry and helium isotopes, which can help identify the extent of deep magmatic degassing. USGS image by P. Nadeau. Right: The gas is collected in evacuated glass bottles (vacuum-pumped, so that there is no other gas inside the bottle), using a syringe and tubing to help ensure minimal contamination by ambient atmospheric gases. USGS image by P. Nadeau.

Puhimau thermal area has the largest naturally occurring population of the endangered plant, Portulaca sclerocarpa (marked by the blue flag in the photo), and is the site of National Park Service restoration efforts for this species. Plant size and vigor were recorded for plants in the proximity of the CO2 and temperature measurements to determine how these abiotic parameters may be influencing plant survivorship and growth. The data collected in this study will be used to inform volcano monitoring, hazards mitigation, and vegetation and area management efforts. USGS image by P. Nadeau.