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Photo tour of Kilauea Volcano's summit caldera

Shaded-relief map of Kilauea Volcano's summit caldera
Shaded-relief image of the summit of Kilauea Volcano. The oval-shaped depression marked by a series of curved faults (dark lines) is the volcano's summit caldera.

The summit caldera of Kilauea Volcano is unique because it's easily accessible and because its young volcanic features are so striking and well preserved. About 2.5 million people every year visit Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, most of whom drive around the caldera on the Crater Rim Drive.

Even to the untrained eye, the majestic vistas and close-hand views of steaming fumaroles, fresh lava flows, deep craters, fissures and faults, as well as the 5-km-wide caldera itself, are clear evidence of a restless and constantly changing landscape.

Kilauea is a shield volcano whose broad summit is dominated by collapse features related to the caldera and smaller "pit" craters that have formed within and on the margins of the caldera. The most recent episode of caldera collapse occurred some time before A.D. 1790. Explosive eruptions during and following the collapse deposited thick volcanic debris over a wide area, especially along the southern part of the caldera. When viewed by westerners in 1823, the caldera floor was 540 m deep. Since then, lava flows of the 19th and 20th centuries have partially filled the caldera and built a low shield in the southwest part of the caldera, at the apex of which is Halema`uma`u.

View toward the east across Kilauea Caldera and Halema`uma`u toward 
distant Pu`u `O`o vent and Mauna Ulu
Haleama`uma`u, southwest caldera floor

We've put together more than two dozen images that take you on a tour of Kilauea's caldera almost as if you were driving through the caldera yourself. Each small image is linked to a mid-size image (with a description of the features visible in the photograph), which is, in turn, linked to a larger image (usually 800 x 500 pixels).

Photo tour of Kilauea Caldera

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Updated: 4 April 2000 (SRB)