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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 26, 2018
Lower East Rift Zone activity continues

An aerial view, looking west, of the two active ocean entries on Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone. The large white plume (foreground) is the eastern ocean entry; the weaker, western plume can be seen in the distance. The white plume, referred to as "laze," is a mixture of condensed acidic steam, hydrochloric acid gas, and tiny shards of volcanic glass that can irritate lungs, eyes and skin.

Aerial view of fissure 22 looking toward the south. Fissure 22 continues to erupt lava that is flowing southeast to the coast and entering the ocean.

This ‘a‘ā flow, erupted from fissures 7 and 21, was approximately 3–4 meters (yards) high at the flow front and slowly advancing to the northeast in the Leilani Estates subdivision around 10:30 a.m. HST today.

Fissure 8, one of the westernmost active fissures on Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone, reactivated during the overnight hours of May 25-26, with chaotic bursts of gas and lava spatter. A mini-spatter cone (far right) near fissure 8 was also constantly active.
May 25, 2018
Activity continues along Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone

Left: Aerial view of the active ocean entries at Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone captured during this morning's HVO overflight. An ongoing hazard at the ocean entries is laze. As hot lava boils cool seawater, a series of chemical and physical reactions create a mixture of condensed acidic steam, hydrochloric acid gas, and tiny shards of volcanic glass. Blown by wind, this plume creates a noticeable downwind haze, known as "laze" (short for lava haze). Laze is irritating to the lungs, eyes and skin. Right: Activity at fissure 6 this morning (May 25, 2018). Lava fountains have built a small spatter cone (black mound) from which lava was spilling out onto the surface and flowing into a small pond (left of the cone).
Explosions continue at the summit of Kīlauea

View of a rising ash plume from Halema‘uma‘u, a crater at the summit of Kīlauea, late yesterday (May 24, 2018), as seen from the caldera rim near Volcano House. USGS scientists are stationed at this vantage point to track the ongoing summit explosions.

This explosion at Kīlauea Volcano's summit, which occurred just after 6:00 p.m. HST on May 24, 2018, produced an ash cloud that rose to 10,000 feet above sea level. Moderate trade winds were blowing to the southwest at the time, and light ash fell in downwind locations. Earthquakes in the summit area continue at a moderate rate, as does deflation of the summit region, both of which reflect the withdrawal of magma from the summit.
Fissure complex produces a Pāhoehoe flow

Fissure 21 produced a Pāhoehoe lava flow that oozed onto Kaupili Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision. Video 1 shows the flow on May 25, around 2:15 a.m. HST. Video 2 shows lava oozing over a berm on May 24, around 6:00 p.m. HST. Burning asphalt created the black smoke seen in the video as the lava flow advanced down the street.

Fissures 6 (left) and 13 (right), with lava flows merging into one channel that flows into the ocean at the western-most entry. Note plume in distance at the ocean entries (top left). Photo is from an overflight at mid day.
May 24, 2018
Aerial imagery of Kīlauea summit activity

This video was filmed on May 21, 2018, with a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). Limited UAV flights above the hazardous Kīlauea summit area, which is currently too dangerous for geologists to enter for ground observations, are conducted with permission from the National Park Service. The overflights collect visual information on what is happening at this rapidly changing vent. The information is used to quantify change and informs our assessment of hazards, which is shared with the National Park Service and emergency managers. At Kīlauea Volcano's summit, a nearly continuous plume of gas and steam billows out of the Overlook vent and drifts with the wind. Explosions are occurring about two times a day, producing ash that rises to a height of between 8,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level. Small ash emissions occur more frequently. The larger explosions produce ash that is blown downwind, and trace amounts have fallen in nearby communities.
Lower East Rift Zone UAS flights assist with remote data collection, lava flow mapping, and hazard assessment

This footage is from an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) hovering near fissure 22 during the overnight hours of May 22, 2018, and looking down on the fountaining fissure complex. The view rotates upward (to the south) to track channelized lava as it flows toward the Pacific Ocean, about 3 mi (5 km) away. The ocean entry is in the distance, recognizable by a small plume. The USGS National Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office is assisting with remote data collection and mapping of lava flows and hazards. UAS flights into hazardous areas allow USGS scientists to safely view, document, and better understand what's happening with Kīlauea's rapidly changing eruption and to provide information to Hawai‘i County Civil Defense and emergency officials. Video courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Aviation Services.
Kīlauea lower East Rift Zone eruption

Left: During HVO's overflight this morning, the fissure 22 fountain was not as high as several days ago, but was still erupting significant lava. USGS photo by M. Patrick. Right: Fissure 6 fountain, as of around 9:30 a.m. HST today. USGS photo by M. Patrick.

During today's overflight of the ongoing lower East Rift Zone eruption, HVO geologists noted that fissures 6, 13 and 22 were still erupting, with two channelized flows reaching the ocean. The eastern lava channel splits just before reaching the ocean, so it has two entry points, creating a total of three ocean entries on the flow field. USGS photo by M. Patrick.
Kīlauea summit explosion

Poor weather at the summit of Kīlauea has obscured views of Halema‘uma‘u for much of today, but a brief break in the weather around noon allowed HVO's webcam to capture this image of an ash plume rising from the crater at 12:17 p.m. HST. Even though weather has obscured visual observations of the ongoing summit explosions, HVO scientists are able to track them using signals from monitoring instruments, such as seismometers.
Civil Air Patrol-Hilo Squadron aerial images

Left: On Wednesday, May 23, the Hilo Civil Air Patrol conducted flights over the lower East Rift Zone eruption to assist USGS and Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency as they respond to the Kīlauea eruption. This image shows the scale of the lava channels feeding the ocean entries. Note that lava is overflowing the channels and is on top of slightly older, black lava flows. The visible haze is sulfur dioxide gas that's being emitted from the fissures. Photo courtesy of J. Ozbolt, Hilo Civil Air Patrol. Right: On May 23, 2018, the Hilo Civil Air Patrol captured this evening photograph of the coastline where lava flows are entering the sea. There are currently three primary ocean entry points, which have evolved over the course of the eruption. Photo courtesy of J. Ozbolt, Hilo Civil Air Patrol.
May 23, 2018
Activity continues in Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone

Left: Fissure 6 builds a lava berm across Pohoiki Road. Right: View from a helicopter of the channelized lava flow and active ocean entry. The fissure complex is visible in the upper center of the image.

Helicopter overflight of Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone shows the lava channel emerging from Fissure 22 (not visible, but to the center, far right of the image). The lava is flowing downhill, from right to left in the photo.

A blue burning flame of methane gas was observed in the cracks on Kahukai Street during the overnight hours. When lava buries plants and shrubs, methane gas is produced as a byproduct of burning vegetation. Methane gas can seep into subsurface voids and explode when heated, or as shown in this video, emerge from cracks in the ground several feet away from the lava. When ignited, the methane produces a blue flame.

Helicopter overflight of lower East Rift Zone ocean entry and fissure complex on May 23, 2018, around 8:00 AM HST.
Explosions continue at Kīlauea Volcano's summit

Left: Multiple explosions at Kīlauea's summit occurred throughout today, with some of the ash plumes rising 6,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level. HVO scientists keeping tabs on the explosions from a safe distance captured these images. This photo was taken at 10:36 a.m. HST. USGS photo by D. Swanson. Right: A telephoto lens zoomed in on this ash plume at 12:55 p.m. HST. USGS photo by D. Swanson.

A pulse of ash rises from Halema‘uma‘u as part of semi-continuous emissions at Kīlauea's summit today. Ash can be seen falling from the plume as it is blown downwind in this image, taken around 3:28 p.m. HST. USGS photo by I. Johanson.
May 22, 2018
Fissure complex continues to send lava to the ocean

The fissure complex, pictured in the upper right, continues to feed a meandering lava flow (in the center). Lava in the easternmost lobe is entering the ocean (white plume).

Left: The fissure complex remains active in Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone. At times, fountaining at Fissure 22 reached a height of about 50 m (about 160 ft). Right: View during an early morning overflight of Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone. Two fissures (not pictured) are sending lava down two channels that merge near the coast.

Solidified lava from Fissure 17 (located to the east of the currently active fissure complex) has a consistency similar to toothpaste.

Aerial view of an active lava break-out.

Compilation of three short videos from helicopter overflights of the fissure complex, in Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone on May 22, 2018. Fissure 22 is the dominant fissure, with lava fountaining to 50 m (about 160 ft) or more in height.
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.

A helicopter overflight of Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone shows the interaction of lava and seawater to produce a laze plume. Laze is formed when lava enters the ocean. The interaction sends hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles into the air. Laze drifts with the wind and can be a health hazard for people in the immediate vicinity of the plume, but it dissipates quickly downwind. Laze is irritating to the lungs, eyes and skin. The video also shows the rapid fragmentation of lava when it enters the ocean.

A small explosion occurred at 12:55 a.m. HST on May 20 in Halema‘uma‘u, a crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. It produced an ash plume that reached about 7,000 feet above sea level and was carried by the wind to the southwest. Additional explosive events that could produce minor amounts of ashfall downwind are possible at any time. The photo below was taken during a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) survey of Halema‘uma‘u on the morning of Sunday, May 20. The crater wall is just visible through the steam plume, showing scars from rockfalls that have been enlarging the crater over the past few days. UAV flights into this hazardous area, which is too dangerous for geologists to enter for ground observations at this time, allow USGS scientists to better understand what is happening at the rapidly changing vent. In addition to visual imagery such as this, the UAV team hopes to produce digital elevation models to quantify morphological change and to utilize UAV-borne gas sensors to measure sulfur dioxide and other gas emission. Such information contributes to our assessment of the hazards, which is shared with the National Park Service and other emergency managers.
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.