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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.

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.

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.
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.
November 15, 2017
Views of Kīlauea caldera

A helicopter overflight provided good view of Kīlauea caldera. This video starts from the east, near Kīlauea Iki, and heads west towards Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Spattering in the summit lava lake can be seen by the small orange spot in Halema‘uma‘u Crater. The gas plume from the lake is carried southwest by trade winds. HVO and Jaggar Museum can be seen on the crater rim near the end of the video. The video is shown at 2x speed.
November 10, 2017
Ocean entry inactive; breakouts continue on delta and coastal plain

The ocean entry was inactive today, following a trend of diminished activity over the past several days. There were no signs of lava streams entering the water and no indication of a plume rising from the leading edge of the delta. Small surface breakouts were observed on the delta, however, and breakouts were also active upslope on the coastal plain.

Several small breakouts were observed on the delta today. This view is from the sea cliff looking out across the delta. Just below the center of the photograph, a small lobe of spiny pāhoehoe can be seen oozing out of a small tumulus.

Left: Roughly 500 meters (0.3 miles) north or inland of the sea cliff, a new breakout emerged from the lava tube over the past several days. This small breakout was mostly spiny pāhoehoe, and was very sluggish. Right: Scattered breakouts remain active on the coastal plain, roughly 1.6 km (1 mile) north of the emergency access road. Here, an HVO geologist marks the position of these breakouts with a handheld GPS.
November 1, 2017
Activity at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō and on the 61g flow

The lava pond in the west pit of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō remains active. While at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō making observations, HVO geologists witnessed a small rockfall from the western wall (center right of photo where spattering is occurring). The rockfall briefly disturbed the pond surface and produced spattering for several minutes. Rockfalls into the lava pond are fairly common because the unstable west pit rim and walls have many loose altered rocks, overhung ledges, and cracks (example at left center).

The ocean entry at the Kamokuna lava delta was active today, with a small and wispy steam plume. The ocean entry was being fed by a surface flow on the delta, which is clearly seen in the thermal image (right) as a bright yellow color. The thermal image also shows heat signatures from parallel cracks in the delta that were covered by lava flows during the past several months. Based on today's overflight, the delta is roughly 4 ha (10 acres) in size. The nearest surface flows on the coastal plain are about 1.4 km (0.9 miles) from the emergency road.
October 26, 2017
Lava breakouts continue on the coastal plain and on the delta

On Kīlauea Volcano's 61g coastal flow field today (October 26), the closest active surface flows mapped by HVO geologists were approximately 1.4 km (0.9 miles) from the emergency road. Breakouts at the flow front were mostly sluggish and spread out pāhoehoe toes; a few larger breakouts were short-lived. Other areas of surface breakouts were also found farther upslope, produced by the June 26 breakout, visibly degassing to the right of the green kipuka on the pali.

Left: A thin fluid sheet of pāhoehoe flowed from beneath the fractured crust of a tumulus (an inflated flow surface that is pushed upward) and quickly filled in nearby low areas. This surface flow, which is from the June 26 breakout, was close to the base of the pali. The tumulus pictured here is roughly 3 m (10 ft) tall. Right: The episode 61g Kamokuna ocean entry was still active today (October 26), with a breakout on the delta surface feeding multiple lava streams on the delta's seaward edge. Despite the amount of lava entering the water, the ocean entry plume was extremely weak, with little to no sign of it from HVO's Holei Pali webcam (HPcam), which views the lower half of the 61g flow field, from the ocean entry to the pali.
October 13, 2017
Pāhoehoe breakouts on the coastal plain

Scattered breakouts today (October 13) on the western 61g flow margin were mapped at 1.3 km (0.8 mi) from the closest portion of the emergency road. The small pāhoehoe breakouts put on a show as they slowly oozed out of growing cracks that were forced open by flow inflation (pictured).