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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.

September 21, 2017
Good views of Halema‘uma‘u's lava lake

Aerial view of Halema‘uma‘u, showing typical spattering activity at the south lake margin. Golden brown Pele's hair is covering the previous lake overflows which are darker in color. The plume was light at the time of the overflight, allowing a view of the southern wall, which recently experienced two collapses exposing the lighter wall rock beneath.
Continued breakouts on the coastal plain, and farther upslope

Aerial view from the top of the pali, looking towards the ocean entry. The lighter silver lava flow breakouts over the past week have spread out at the base of the pali. The closest location of activity is 1.6 km (1 mile) from the gravel road. Fume is rising from the main lava tube on the right of the image. The coastal entry plume is on the horizon, staying close to the ground near the Kamokuna delta.

The front half of the lava delta is shown, with an open lava stream left of center. In the upper left is a circular rubble feature, called a shatter ring, which formed between Aug 15 and Sept 19, and is the source of many of the lava flows on the left (west) side of the image. Yellow sulfur can be seen on some areas on the delta as well, especially on the right hand side of this image. Today the delta was measured at approximately 10 acres (4 hectares) in size.

Left: HVO geologists change data cards on a time-lapse camera positioned on the rim of the west pit within Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Crater. A lava pond has been active in this pit for over a year, and the time-lapse camera tracks changes in the pond activity. Right: An example time-lapse image from the camera shown to the left. This image is from September 14 and shows typical activity in the lava pond, with spattering along the western pond margin.
September 20, 2017
Deformation of the lava delta continues

This video shows the Kamokuna lava delta growing and sinking over a 1 month time span between 15 August 2017 and 19 September 2017. Made from one image every other day. The video is looped 10 times, with the loop number in the upper left corner. As the delta grows and builds outwards, the front of the delta sinks and lowers into the ocean if there is not enough support below it to build outwards. The delta often cracks as it bends and deforms while sinking, allowing lava to cover its surface by coming out of the cracks or the main tube. This masks the effect of the delta sinking because the new material on top appears at the same height as the slightly older material, but in fact the front of the delta is sinking relatively quickly.

A shatter ring forms and grows on the Kamokuna lava delta. This video shows repeated uplift and subsidence of the delta surface by the lava supply under the surface. This process creates a large round rubble pile, called a shatter ring. The uplift is caused by extra lava accumulating in the tube, either from more volume coming in, or from a blockage that does not allow lava to pass through easily. If the rock breaks, which often happens around the base at the flexure point, then lava can flow out of the tube and onto the surface, causing the uplift to reverse.
September 19, 2017
Activity continues at the growing lava delta

Left: There were nice views of the 61g lava delta today (September 19) from the public viewing area. Many streams of lava were entering the ocean on the eastern side of the delta creating a robust plume. Over the past week, there have been repeated breakouts near the center of the delta, increasing its size. The delta size was roughly 10 acres (4 hectares), when measured using a satellite image of the delta taken on September 4. Right: A telephoto of a stream of lava pouring from the delta to the beach below. As the cold sea water hits the hot lava, explosive interactions break apart the rock to form the sandy beach seen at the deltas base.
September 13, 2017
Continued spattering in the summit lava lake

This panorama, taken from the eastern rim of Halema‘uma‘u, shows the lava lake within the Overlook crater. The lake surface this morning was about 40 meters (130 ft) below the floor of Halema‘uma‘u. Mauna Loa spans much of the skyline near the center of the image; HVO and Jaggar Museum can be seen on the distant caldera rim (right side of image).

Wispy fumes provided a clear view of the western wall of the Overlook crater this morning. Just above the lake surface (bottom of photo), a "bathtub ring" extends up the wall several meters, marking a recent high stand of the lake. Above that, a thick span of red, white and yellow rock is exposed in the crater wall. The colors originate from oxidation and alteration of older lava that filled Halema‘uma‘u in the 1960s and 1970s. Above the colorful rocks is an 8 m (26 ft) thick section of darker rock layers, which were formed by lava overflowing the vent rim in April and May 2015. The top of the photo shows the flat floor of Halema‘uma‘u, blanketed in a continuous layer of Pele's hair.

Spattering is common in Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake, and consists of many large bursting gas bubbles. The fluid nature of the lake can be seen when lava hits the wall and flows downward like syrup. The thin, flexible nature of the crust is also shown here, as the bursting gas bubbles rip and fold the thin skin on the lake. This video was taken from the rim of Halema‘uma‘u, an area that remains closed to the public due to ongoing volcanic hazards.
September 8, 2017
Collapses common during significant drops in summit lava lake

On September 8, at 6:06 p.m. HST, much of the large ledge that had built up on the south side of the summit vent within Halema‘uma‘u collapsed. The top two images, captured by HVO's K2 and HT web cameras, show the summit vent before the collapse. A yellow arrow points to the ledge, which was formed by layers of lava stacking up during repeated high lake levels. The lower webcam images were captured minutes after the collapse. In the thermal images, note the difference in the lava lake surface before and after the collapse. K2cam shows the view from HVO and Jaggar Museum; HTcam is a thermal camera that looks down on the lava lake from the rim of Halema‘uma‘u.

HVO K2cam image at the time of the 6:06 p.m. collapse on Sept. 8. Interestingly, this collapse did not generate a large explosion—only a small, brownish plume was observed during and immediately after the rocky ledge fell into the lava lake. The next day, HVO geologists noted a dusting of ash on the Halema‘uma‘u crater rim, but found no spatter fragments like those that have been hurled to the crater rim during past large explosions. At the time of the Sept. 8 collapse, the lava lake level was about 53.5 m (176 ft) below the vent rim, too deep to be visible from HVO. Collapses are more common when the lava lake level drops significantly, because support is removed from the crater walls.
September 1, 2017
Activity continues at the Kamokuna ocean entry and along the 61g flow field

Lava continues to enter the ocean at the Kamokuna ocean entry with many small lava streams near the front of the delta. On August 19, there was a breakout approximately 120 m (394 ft) away from the edge of the sea cliff that lasted for approximately 9.5 hours. This breakout (upper center) cascaded over the cliff and onto the delta, producing a small ‘a‘ā flow seen on the western (left) side of the delta. Large cracks, some of which span the entire delta, continue to highlight instability and the possibility of a collapse.

Left: Today, two recent breakouts (lighter in color) were visible on the steeper portion of the pali. The western breakout (left of the kipuka) started on August 27 from the 61g tube, and has started to advance onto the coastal plain. To the east (right) of the kipuka is a smaller surface flow that is a part of the larger June 26 breakout. This breakout has been supplying the active surface flows on the coastal plain for the last two months, and was approximately 1.9 km (1.2 mi) from the road today (September 1). Surface breakouts also remain active over much of the upper flow field (above the pali). Right: Telephoto view of some of the pāhoehoe lava channels from the surface activity of the June 26 breakout.
August 21, 2017
Short-lived lava falls at Kamokuna ocean entry

On Saturday, August 19 at 04:10 HST a breakout that started 120 m (394 ft) up-slope of the ocean entry, began to spill over the sea cliff and onto the delta. The lava fall was located to the west of the ramp (tubed-over firehose), and produced a small ‘a‘ā flow on the western portion of the delta. This breakout was short-lived and appeared to have died by 1:30 pm HST, lasting about 9.5 hours. The photo pictured above was taken at 6:40 am HST, showing the lava fall and some faint activity of the ‘a‘ā flows on the far side of the delta. Many cracks remain and continue to widen on the delta, although they are more difficult to see in the early morning light.

Left: At 9:35 pm HST on August 19, there was a large littoral explosion near the front of the delta (left). Another smaller explosion was seen 5 minutes later. These explosions are typically caused by mixing of cool sea water and hot lava. The August 19 explosions were not followed by obvious delta subsidence or collapse, something we have seen in the past. Right: A telephoto image of the spatter deposit produced by the August 19 littoral explosions at the lava delta. When ejected, the spatter was thrown much higher than the height of the sea cliff which is approximately 28 m (92 ft). The flying debris is just one of the many hazards at an ocean entry.
August 15, 2017
Flow front stalled on coastal plain

The flow front of the June 26 breakout (pictured above) has stalled. On the coastal plain today, the closest active breakouts found by HVO geologists were 2.1 km (1.3 miles) upslope from the emergency route. There were a few areas of active pāhoehoe breakouts which varied from sluggish ropey textures to thin and fluid flows.

Cracks on the Kamokuna lava delta continue to develop. These photos from July 31 (left) and today, August 15 (right), highlight changes on the delta during the past two weeks. The yellow numbers mark a few prominent features on the delta (1 & 3) and older sea cliff (2 & 4). A new crack (1) formed over the two weeks and appears to span most of the delta, and a crack closer to the cliff (3) has widened and extended to the west. Time-lapse images during the past two weeks showed slight widening of the large crack and subtle subsidence of the delta. Continued development of these and other cracks underline the hazardous nature of an ocean entry, and why it is important to take heed of all warning signs and area closures.
August 9, 2017
Activity continues on the 61g flow field and at the ocean entry

At the Kamokuna ocean entry, the lava delta is active and slowly growing. As of today, the delta is about 6.8 acres (2.8 hectares) in size. Many coast-parallel cracks are visible on the delta, including a large crack near the center that spans the entire width of the delta. A few small streams of lava entering the ocean can be seen near the front of the delta.

The June 26 breakout (lighter-colored flow in the center of the photo) is active on the coastal plain and at the flow front. There's been no significant advancement of the flow front since July 31. Today, active breakouts were located roughly 1.5 km (0.9 mile) from the emergency route. Scattered surface flows are active on much of the upper flow field (above the pali) from three separate breakouts that started on June 13, 26 and July 26.

While mapping the flow margins, HVO geologists found an opening into an old lava tube system that has been partly filled with episode 61g lava. Most of the cooled lava cascades were intact and sitting on top of rubble from the caved-in roof of the abandoned tube. The opening in the tube (right) was partially filled with new lava, but was still roughly 3 m (10 ft) high.
August 7, 2017
Time-lapse sequence shows Halema‘uma‘u gas plume

This time-lapse sequence shows the outgassing plume from the Halema‘uma‘u lava lake at the summit of Kīlauea. The images were captured by a camera on the flank of Mauna Loa on May 19, 2017. As the plume rose from the vent, it reached the atmospheric inversion layer, which effectively capped the height of the plume.