HVO Photos & Video

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October 27, 2016 — Kīlauea

Cracks remind us that lava deltas can collapse without warning

Left: An aerial image of the east Kamokuna lava delta this morning shows lava entering the ocean at the front of the delta. Photo by Rick Hazlett, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Right: Looking down from the helicopter, cracks are visible on the surface of the east Kamokuna lava delta. These cracks are reminders that lava deltas are inherently unstable features that can collapse without warning. A lava delta collapse can send tons of hot rock into the sea, generating steam-driven explosions that can hurl fragments of molten lava and solid rock 100s of meters (yards) in all directions—inland and seaward. More information about lava delta hazards is provided in our July 28, 2016, Volcano Watch article (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/view.php?id=343). Photo by Rick Hazlett, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

October 25, 2016 — Kīlauea

East Kamokuna ocean entry still active; west entry inactive

Left: The east Kamokuna ocean entry was still active on October 25, with multiple entry points spread along the eastern side of the lava delta. Lava dribbling into the sea at the front of the delta creates a billowy white plume, which looks harmless, but is actually a mixture of superheated steam, hydrochloric acid, and tiny shards of volcanic glass. Right: The west Kamokuna lava delta was completely inactive, with no lava entering the ocean.

October 20, 2016 — Kīlauea

More reminders why the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater area is closed

Two explosions in as many days were triggered by rocks falling into Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake. The event shown above occurred around 12:26 p.m., HST, today (Thursday, October 20). The other explosion happened around 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19. Both events are reminders why the area around Halemaʻumaʻu Crater remains closed to the public.

Today's explosion, triggered by a rockfall from the south-southeast wall of the summit vent within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, blasted spatter (molten lava) and rock fragments on to the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, as well as on to the closed section of Crater Rim Drive, about a quarter-mile from the vent.

Following today's explosion, spatter (bit of molten lava) and fragments of solid rock littered this closed section of Crater Rim Drive in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. This section of the road, adjacent to the former Halemaʻumaʻu Crater parking area, has been closed since 2008 due to elevated sulfur dioxide emissions and other ongoing volcanic hazards, such as today's rockfall-triggered explosion.

Left: Spatter and "ribbon bombs" (stretched fragments of molten lava) up to 30 cm (about 12 inches) long fell to the ground surface on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater during the two most recent explosions from Kīlauea's summit lava lake. The black, glassy lava fragment shown here, about the size of a standard donut, landed amidst smaller, solid pieces of rock blasted from the vent. Right: A marking pen is shown for scale to indicate the size of this solid rock fragment hurled from the vent during the explosion.

A close-up of spatter and rock fragments blasted from the summit vent during the recent explosions. These pieces of rock and lava, now scattered among the Pele's hair that blankets the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, remind us of the hazards that still exist in this area.

October 17, 2016 — Kīlauea

A brief overflow of Kīlauea's summit lava lake on October 15

On Saturday, October 15, Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake overflowed the vent rim between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m., and again around 6:30 p.m., HST. In this image, captured by HVO's K2 webcam, you can see small spill-overs (shiny black lava) on the east (far left) and west (right) sides of the vent rim.

In recent weeks, the lava lake level has been rising and falling in concert with summit inflation and deflation (DI-events), with the lake surface often in view of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park overlooks. On September 22, the lake level rose to within 10 m (33 ft) of the vent rim, the highest level reached since the previous lake overflow in April-May 2015. Since then, the lake level has risen and fallen with multiple DI-events.

A switch to summit inflation on October 13 led to Saturday's brief overflow, which was soon followed by a return to summit deflation and a drop in the lake level. As of this morning, October 17, the summit lava lake level was 17 m (56 ft) below the vent rim.

October 7, 2016 — Kīlauea

Eastern Kamokuna ocean entry

Left: With brisk trade winds today, spectacular views of Kīlauea Volcano's eastern Kamokuna lava delta were possible from outside the closed area on the east, or Kalapana, side of the ocean entry. Lava deltas can collapse without warning, as happened here this past week, causing explosions that can throw rocky debris and fragments of molten lava flying in all directions (inland and seaward). Visitors to this area are urged to remain outside the closed area—clearly identified with a rope line and warning signs—for their safety. Right: Using the telephoto feature on a point-and-shoot camera (from the same location as the left photo), this image captured lava streaming into the ocean at the leading edge of the lava delta.

Coastal plain skylights: reminders of the hazards associated with active lava tubes

Left: This skylight, a "window" into the active lava tube that carries lava from the vent to the sea, is located inland of the Kamokuna ocean entry. It is a sobering reminder why visitors are encouraged to remain outside the closed area, which Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park has cordoned off with a rope line and warning signs. The Park reported that in late September, a skylight opened abruptly on the coastal plain just minutes after a couple of visitors had walked through the closed area. Right: It is possible to see the skylight without entering the closed area, and with a camera or smart phone, you can zoom in for more detail, as shown in this image.

Left: Another collapse feature and skylight along the lava tube that feeds the Kamokuna ocean entry, underscoring the hazards associated with active lava tubes and the need to remain outside the closed area. Right: A telephoto image of the skylight, captured without entering the closed area. Note the sagging lava surface in the foreground, an indication of just how unstable this area is.

October 5, 2016 — Kīlauea

Typical spattering at the summit lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater

This photograph shows spattering at the southeast margin of Kīlauea's summit lava lake, as viewed from the west. This is the most common area on the lake to have spattering, but, because it is almost directly below the camera location, it is not visible in our webcam images.

This video clip shows typical spattering activity in Kīlauea's summit lava lake. This spattering was occurring along the eastern margin of the lake on the evening of October 5.

October 3, 2016 — Kīlauea

Continued spattering in Kīlauea's summit lava lake

This morning, spattering along the eastern margin of Kīlauea's summit lava lake built an overhanging ledge that was attached to the Overlook Crater wall. In this image, a few long stalactites can be seen dangling from the overhang (lower right). These stalactites were flexible enough to be swinging back and forth.

This video shows spattering in two locations of Kīlauea's summit lava lake. In the first segment, spattering is active in a small area in the southern portion of the lake. In the second segment, spattering on the east margin of the lake has created an overhanging ledge with dangling lava stalactites.

September 30, 2016 — Kīlauea

Kamokuna ocean entry continues

Lava continues to flow into the ocean at Kamokuna, however this afternoon there was no noticeable plume at the western delta (upper left). The eastern delta (center) is larger, with lava continuing to enter the ocean. A relatively small area of surface breakouts is active on the coastal plain about 1.5 km (0.9 miles) upslope from the ocean entry.

Left: Photo of the eastern delta showing the cracks parallel to the sea cliff. The delta is about 350-400 m (1150-1300 ft) wide and it extends about 150 m (490 ft) out from the old sea cliff. Deltas are unstable, and prone to collapse, because they are built on unconsolidated lava fragments. Right: Thermal image of the eastern delta showing heat in the cracks, as well as plumes of hot water (up to 70 degrees Celsius, or 160 degrees Fahrenheit in this image) extending out from the entry points.

A large skylight was open today on the 61g upper flow field. This morning, only the narrow skylight on the left was open. Hours later the larger area collapsed and exposed more of the swiftly moving lava stream in the tube. In this image, the skylight is about 5 m or 16 feet wide.

Another view of the larger skylight, about 5 m or 16 ft across, showing the thin roof on the tube in this area. This image is a reminder of the hazard of approaching skylights.

September 28, 2016 — Kīlauea

Halemaʻumaʻu at dusk

A view of the lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at dusk, taken from the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu (closed to the public due to volcanic hazards). The view is towards the northwest, with the broad summit of Mauna Loa near the top of the photograph. The lake was 34 meters (112 feet) below the Overlook crater rim at this time.

This video clip shows the northern portion of the lava lake, where episodic bubbling commonly occurs. The northern margin of the lake is in the upper right portion of the photo. Note how the bubbling occurs in the same general area, regardless of the movement of the crustal plates. The video is shown at 20x speed.

September 27, 2016 — Kīlauea

The rise and fall of Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake

Since early September 2016, Kīlauea's summit lava lake level has fluctuated, as shown in these side-by-side webcam images. On September 10 (left), the summit lava lake rose to within 5 m (16 ft) of the vent rim, only to drop the next day with the onset of summit deflation. Since then, the lava lake level has been up and down in concert with summit inflation and deflation, dropping to 30 m (98 ft) below the vent rim on September 24 (right)—and as low as 36 m (118 ft) the next day. For insight on what's happening with Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake and what it means, check out this recent HVO "Volcano Watch" article—http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/view.php?id=456. To track the summit lava lake activity, please visit HVO's webcam images at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/cams/.