Link to USGS home page.
Contact USGS

  • Assess
  • Prepare
  • Forecast
  • |
  • Activity
  • Products
  • Observatories
  • About

Photo & Video Chronology

May 7, 2017
Lava delta at Kamokuna ocean entry is rebuilding

Left: The lava delta at Kīlauea Volcano's Kamokuna ocean entry is quickly rebuilding after the collapse on May 3, when much of the previous delta collapsed into the sea. A robust steam plume obscured the seaward section of the delta today (May 7). Right: A telephoto lens provided a close-up view of the seaward edge of the Kamokuna lava delta, where multiple, small streams of lava were entering the ocean today. Fragments of hot lava can be seen floating in the water.
May 4, 2017
Kamokuna lava delta: collapse on May 3 and how it looked today

Left: On May 3, Kīlauea Volcano's Kamokuna lava delta, which had been growing since late March, collapsed. An HVO time-lapse camera captured the sequence of events in five-minute intervals. This image shows the lava delta at 7:50 a.m. HST, a couple of hours before the collapse. Right: Between 9:35 and 9:40 a.m., a large steam plume appeared in the middle of Kamokuna lava delta in the area of large cracks noted in our April 27 image (see below). Weak fountaining or spattering likely occurred initially, because new tephra is visible in the steaming area, but that activity ended by 9:40 a.m. Images captured over the next 25 minutes show that the steam plume in the middle of the delta weakened, and the delta surface surrounding the steaming area subsided.

Left: Within five minutes, between 9:55 and 10:00 a.m. HST, nearly the entire delta disappeared, collapsing into the sea. The collapsed area cut back toward the sea cliff, past the largest crack on the delta. In this image, captured at 10:05 a.m., the seawater is brown and turbulent. Large blocks of steaming rocks are visible on top of a narrow slice of the remaining delta (center). These rocks were likely washed ashore by a small, localized tsunami generated by the collapse. During the next few hours, small pieces of the remnant delta continued to flake off and disappear into the ocean. Right: This morning (May 4), the Kamokuna ocean entry was obscured by a thick steam plume at the base of the cliff. Sparse littoral bursts, occasionally visible through the plume, were the source of the floating, steaming lava fragments that can be seen in the ocean near the entry.
April 27, 2017
Delta at the Kamokuna ocean entry slowly growing

The episode 61g Kamokuna ocean entry has been slowly building a new lava delta for a little over a month now. Since our April 15 post, the delta has grown substantially. Two large cracks parallel to the coast are visible on the delta (center), with the distal portion slumping slightly seaward—suggesting further instability. Today, the ocean entry activity, most of which was located along the western side of the delta and obscured by the thick plume, was producing occasional weak littoral explosions.
Kīlauea summit lava lake level falls with return to deflation

Left: Early this morning the lava lake level was measured at 12.5 m (41 ft) below the vent rim, the highest level the lake reached this month. But, at around 8:30 a.m., summit inflation switched to deflation and the lava lake level began to drop. Right: By mid-afternoon, when these photos were taken, the drop in the lava lake level was obvious. A "bathtub ring" of black lava forming a rim on the vent wall (between the lighter-colored rocks higher in the wall and the surface of the lava lake) provides a record of the lake's previous higher level.
April 15, 2017
Small delta at the ocean entry

The ocean entry at Kamokuna remains active, with a small lava delta. Views of the lava streams entering the water were obscured by the thick plume. Very weak littoral explosions were occurring.
April 10, 2017
Episode 61g Kamokuna ocean entry remains active

A small delta at the Kamokuna ocean entry (left) continues to slowly build. Our observations this afternoon (April 10) indicate that the coastal plain breakouts that had been active since mid-February have died within the last few days. Currently, the only active surface flows are from the March 5 breakout on the upper flow field. This activity has not significantly advanced, and remains within roughly 3.5 km (2.2 mi) of the episode 61g vent. The National Park Service viewing area and rope line are visible in the center of the photo.

The lava entering the ocean continues to produce a robust plume, making it difficult to get a clear view of the small lava delta that is forming. Occasional views of the eastern edge of the delta (right) revealed a thin delta building on a steeply sloping beach of sand and volcanic fragments—produced by the explosive interactions between hot lava and cool sea water. Lava blocks are visible floating in the hot, discolored water plume on either side of the delta, with their steam trails on the water's surface.

This video clip shows the Kamokuna ocean entry, with the laze plume blocking the view of the delta. The billowing white cloud rising from the ocean entry is a corrosive seawater plume laden with hydrochloric acid and fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.
April 8, 2017
Small delta has formed at ocean entry; evidence of recent delta collapses

A small delta has formed at the Kamokuna ocean entry, but views of the delta have been largely obscured by the thick ocean entry plume.

Left: A closer view of the delta. A small black sand beach is visible on its eastern side (bottom of photo). Right: Fragments of floating lava drift away from the ocean entry, creating small steam plumes as the hot lava boils the seawater.

A field of blocks on the sea cliff above the ocean entry suggest that lava delta collapses and explosions have recently occurred. The blocks are resting on a thick layer of Pele's hair and limu o Pele, which are small glassy particles that fall from the ocean entry plume.

HVO geologists encountered only one tiny breakout on the coastal plain on Saturday. The pali can be seen in the background.
March 30, 2017
Small delta at Kamokuna ocean entry

The episode 61g flow continues to enter the ocean at the Kamokuna ocean entry (center), and was producing a robust plume. The western Kamokuna delta, which was abandoned in late September 2016, is visible to the left of the entry. A few weak surface breakouts were still active on the coastal plain, but most surface activity is within approximately 3.5 km (2.2 miles) of the vent. The episode 61g tube is marked by fume traces that can be seen along the flow field, and Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō is visible in the center of the skyline.

A close-up view of the Kamokuna ocean entry. A tiny delta has been building, but is not clearly visible through the thick plume. One spot of incandescence can be seen through a break in the plume (center) just above sea level. Floating, steaming blocks were also seen in the water just off the ocean entry (lower middle-right).
March 20, 2017
A 3D tour of Kīlauea's summit lava lake

This 3D model of the lava lake at Kīlauea's summit was constructed from a series of thermal images acquired during an overflight on Thursday, March 16. For scale, the lava lake is about 250 meters (820 ft) across. The lake is within the Overlook crater, which is within Halema‘uma‘u Crater. The model shows that a portion of the Overlook crater wall, along the southern wall of Halema‘uma‘u Crater, is overhanging. If this portion of the crater wall collapses it could trigger a small explosive event, similar to those which occurred in November and December of 2016.
March 16, 2017
Lava stream at ocean entry continues

A firehose of lava continues to pour into the sea at the Kamokuna ocean entry, sending a plume of steam, hydrochloric acid, and glass particles into the air and drifting downwind. Offshore, lava entering the sea also produces plumes of hot, discolored water. The circular area of dark water in front of the entry is a region of cooler water between the split plumes of hotter water.

Left: A closer view of the ocean entry and plumes of hot, discolored water. Right: A thermal image shows the two plumes of hot water extending out from the ocean entry point. A circular area of cool water is directly in front of the entry point, between the two plumes. Several boats leave tracks of stirred-up cooler water cutting through the hot water on the surface.

A closer view of the lava firehose at the ocean entry. The lava stream here is roughly 1-2 meters wide (3-6 ft), and plunges about 20 m (66 ft) into the water.

Left: Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō started as a cinder and spatter cone in the 1980s, but over the past 30 years flank vents on the cone have produced stacks of lava flows, creating a broad shield around the cone. This view looks north and shows the shield shape clearly. Mauna Kea Volcano can be seen in the distance. Right: A lava pond has been present in a small pit in the western portion of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Crater for nearly two years. Unusually clear views today revealed several areas of spattering, and some crustal foundering.
Lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u Crater rising over past day

Summit inflation over the past day has driven the lava lake to rise slightly. This morning, the surface of the lake was about 23.5 m (77 ft) below the Overlook crater rim. In this photo, spattering was occurring along the southern lake margin in two locations.
March 2, 2017
Sluggish breakout on Kīlauea Volcano's coastal plain remains active

The surface breakout that started on February 10 remains active on the coastal plain just east of the main episode 61g lava flow field. The flow front, pictured here, advanced to about 300 m (0.2 miles) from the emergency access road in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, but appeared to be stalled this afternoon. However, there is still active pāhoehoe visible on the coastal plain, with the closest breakouts observed at about 500 m (0.3 miles) from the road.