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January 19, 2017 — Kīlauea


Rising summit lava lake level improves views of spattering

Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake level rose over the past day with steep summit inflation, providing improved views of spattering from visitor overlooks in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. This photo was taken from the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, an area that is closed to the public due to ongoing volcanic hazards, and shows spattering in the southeast corner of the lava lake. The main portion of spattering was about 10 meters (yards) high, but small bits of spatter were thrown over 20 meters (yards) high. On Friday morning (Jan. 20), small bits of spatter from the lava lake surface were visible from the Park's Jaggar Museum overlook.

This video clip of Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake shows spattering along the southeast margin of the lake.

January 15, 2017 — Kīlauea


Lower level of Kīlauea's summit lava lake exposes vent wall

The summit lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater today (Jan. 15, 2017) was about 50.5 m (166 ft) below the crater floor (vent rim). One of the most interesting things exposed by the lower lake level was the clear view of the thick, dark veneer of lava on the eastern vent wall (close-up shown below). This veneer formed when the lava lake level was high; lava next to the vent wall cooled and solidified, leaving "bathtub rings" as the lake level rose and fell. The black rock on the crater floor around the vent was created when the lava lake rose to the point of overflowing in April-May 2015 and October 2016. HVO and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park's Jaggar Museum, perched on the rim of Kīlauea's summit caldera, are visible in the upper left corner of the photo.

Left: Telephoto image of the lava veneer on the 50.5 m (166 ft) tall eastern vent wall; the lava lake surface is visible at lower left. The solidified lava coating the vent wall is quite thick. Parts of it have bathtub rings, but much of it is composed of lumpy protuberances that might have been small ledges at the lake margin or ramparts that formed around spattering sources. If the lake level remains low, sections of this veneer will likely peel away from the vent wall and collapse into the lava lake. Right: In places, the dark-colored veneer of lava, or bathtub rings, have already collapsed into the lava lake, exposing older, light- or rusty-colored rocks in the vent wall. The lava lake surface is visible in the foreground. The distance from the vent rim to the lake surface is 50.5 m (166 ft).

January 12, 2017 — Kīlauea


November 21 breakout remains active and Kamokuna ocean entry continues

The November 21 breakout from the episode 61g lava flow remains active. The tip is 2.4 km (1.5 mi) straight-line from the vent, and the furthest active lava is roughly 600 m (660 yd) back from the tip. The breakout, extending to the lower right of the image, can be identified by its light silver color. Puʻu ʻŌʻō is visible in the upper left of the photo.

Left: The Kamokuna ocean entry remains active. On December 31, approximately 21 acres of delta collapsed into the ocean. The remaining ~2.5 acres can be seen at the base of the sea cliff in long narrow sections. On the lower right of the photo, a scarp is visible where a portion of the old sea cliff collapsed. Degassing from the 61g lava tube is visible from the ocean entry to the upper right of the photo, and Puʻu ʻŌʻō is visible in the top middle of the photo. Right: A close up view of where approximately 4 acres of old sea cliff fell into the ocean during the delta collapse on December 31. The far eastern end of this collapse (right), is where the old public viewing area was located prior to the collapse.

On the left is a normal photograph of the ocean entry, which produces a robust steam plume and an area of discolored water extending out from the entry point. The thermal image on the right shows how this area of discolored water corresponds to scalding water temperatures.

Another view of the ocean entry, with the plume of hot water extending out from the ocean entry point.

January 3, 2017 — Kīlauea


Ongoing activity at Kamokuna ocean entry

Left: Part of what's left of the eastern Kamokuna lava delta following the New Year's Eve collapse can be seen in the center foreground of this image. Visible cracks on the surface of this rocky shelf indicate potential instability and serve as reminders for visitors to the lava viewing area to heed all warning signs. Right: A telephoto lens captured the cascade of lava streaming from the lava tube. Hot lava mixing with cool seawater produces an explosive interaction that results in fragmented lava—spatter, Pele's hair, and black sand—flying upward, landing on the sea cliff above the ocean entry and being thrown seaward. These fragments pose a hazard to anyone who ventures too close to the ocean entry by land or by sea.

A closer view of lava cascading from the lava tube at the Kamokuna ocean entry, with spatter (fragments of molten lava) and black sand (volcanic glass) being thrown skyward.

Left: A glove provides scale for spatter (lighter gray, shiny fragments) that landed on the sea cliff above the Kamokuna ocean entry. Right: Pele's hair, filaments of volcanic glass, formed from the explosive interaction of hot lava entering the ocean, accumulates on the lava surface above the ocean entry. Some is also blown far downwind of the ocean entry.

January 1, 2017 — Kīlauea


Kamokuna lava delta collapse also takes part of old sea cliff

The rocky shelf at the base of the sea cliff is all that remains of the Kamokuna lava delta following the New Year's Eve collapse (Dec. 31, 2016), which sent acres of rock plunging into the sea. The exposed lava tube continued to feed a cascade of molten rock down the steep sea cliff, beginning the process of building another lava delta at the ocean entry, as this photo was taken on Jan. 1, 2017. When the lava delta collapsed, solid and molten fragments of lava and superheated steam exploded skyward, creating tremendous hazard for anyone who ignored the warning signs and entered the closed area on land or ventured too close to the lava delta by boat.

In addition to most of the Kamokuna lava delta disappearing into the ocean on New Year's Eve day, a large section of the older sea cliff east of the delta also collapsed. Here you can see the "bite" taken out by the collapse of the sea cliff. At right, an HVO geologist, donning a hard hat in case of another collapse and explosion, mapped the new edge of the coast (see map at https://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/maps/).

December 4, 2016 — Kīlauea


Time-lapse sequence of lava lake activity at Halemaʻumaʻu

This video, at 50x speed to illustrate the motion of the lava lake surface, shows typical lava lake activity within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. Lava upwells in the northern portion of the lake (left side of image), with most of the lake surface flowing towards the south (right side). Spattering is active within a small grotto at the southeast margin of the lake.

December 2, 2016 — Kīlauea


Another rockfall triggers an explosive event in the summit lava lake

As you watch this VIDEO CLIP, note the rocky ledge (yellow arrow) at the bottom of the webcam image. At 6:58 a.m., HST, today, this large slab of the summit vent wall, located directly below HVO's HMcam, collapsed. Rocks falling into the lava lake triggered a small explosive event that bombarded the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater with spatter (fragments of molten lava), similar to Monday's (Nov. 28) event. These rockfalls and explosions, which occur without warning, in addition to sulfur dioxide gas emissions, are why this hazardous area remains closed.

November 30, 2016 — Kīlauea


Views of the Kamokuna ocean entry

A close-up of one of several streams of lava entering the ocean at the front of the Kamokuna lava delta on Kīlauea's south flank. The billowy white plume formed by the interaction of hot lava and seawater may look harmless, but it is a mixture of superheated steam, hydrochloric acid, and tiny shards of volcanic glass—all of which should be avoided.

A wide view of the ocean entry, showing the broad lava delta on the right. Lava deltas (new land formed at the ocean entry) are built on a foundation of rubble, so they can (and do) collapse without warning. Because of this, lava deltas are one of the most hazardous areas on Kīlauea, and people are urged to enjoy the beauty of the ocean entry from a safe distance.

November 29, 2016 — Kīlauea


Ocean entry continues, with breakout near Puʻu ʻŌʻō

Lava continues to enter the ocean at Kamokuna, where a lava delta about 19 acres in size has been built. The gravel emergency access road is visible on both sides of the surface flow that cut it. The view is to the southwest.

Left: Large cracks parallel to the shoreline are still visible on the Kamokuna delta, indicating instability. The view is to the northeast. Right: Lava is transported to the Kamokuna ocean entry, its plume is visible in the distance, via a lava tube. The trace of an active lava tube is often identifiable by a line of fume, as seen here for the episode 61g lava tube above the Pūlama pali.

A breakout from the episode 61g vent at the head of the lava tube on November 21 sent lava streaming downslope. That breakout was still active when observed on November 29 and had traveled about 1.3 km (0.8 miles), partly surrounding Puʻu Halulu, a tephra cone formed in 1983 at the start of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption. The PEcam webcam looks upslope from Puʻu Halulu toward Puʻu ʻŌʻō, which is shrouded by clouds (top background).

Typical lava lake activity in Halemaʻumaʻu

Kīlauea's summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu is about 255 m (~840 ft) long (left to right in the image) and 195 m (~640 ft) wide. From this perspective, magma rises into the lake near its north edge (upper left) and circulates to the south, where it sinks all along the south margin of the lake. The rim of Halemaʻumaʻu is at the right edge of the photo, and the closed visitor overlook is hidden beneath the fume at upper right.

Left: Another view of Halemaʻumaʻu with its lava lake. The view is to the southeast. Right: The U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the National Park Service Jaggar Museum are perched together near the summit of Kīlauea, about 1.7 km (~1.1 mi) from the lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu, producing a plume in the background.

November 28, 2016 — Kīlauea


Rockfall triggers an explosive event in summit lava lake

VIDEO CLIP captured by HVO webcam: At 11:59 a.m., a rockfall from the south wall of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater triggered a small explosive event in the summit lava lake. The explosion threw spatter (fragments of molten lava) onto the rim of the crater, mostly to the west of the former visitor overlook. This area has been closed to the public since 2008 due to ongoing volcanic hazards, including explosive events like the one that happened today.

This VIDEO CLIP shows a cloud of ash and spatter being thrown from the summit lava lake during today's explosive event. The images were captured by an HVO webcam located on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, just above the rockfall area. Spatter falling onto the crater rim is a reminder of the hazards that exist in this area, which has been closed since 2008.

Left: HVO scientists visited the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu this afternoon (11/28) to collect samples of tephra and check for equipment damage. This view, taken on the approach to the Halemaʻumaʻu, shows the tephra deposit on the crater rim. New spatter is seen as dark lumps scattered across the center of the image on top of older brown-colored Pele's hair. The closed Halemaʻumaʻu overlook is in the background at right; HVO and the Jaggar Museum are on the caldera rim in the distance near upper left. Right: This view shows the main body of the tephra deposit, which comprises the dark fragments scattered from the foreground to the web camera in the background (the HTcam thermal webcam). The rim of Halemaʻumaʻu is to the right; the closed overlook is behind the photographer.

Left: The larger spatter bombs bounced after hitting, leaving divots in the layer of Pele's hair that blankets the area, as seen here. These bombs are the diameter of large dinner plates. Right: The largest spatter bombs traveled the farthest, perhaps aided by momentum, landing on the trail between the Halemaʻumaʻu parking area and overlook. Upon landing, these bombs splatted to form complexly shaped bomb fragments connected by thick strands and masses of Pele's hair.

Only a relatively small amount of spatter reached the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu, compared to the thick, continuous layer of spatter seen here on the intermediate ledge midway between the lava lake and the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater rim.

November 26, 2016 — Kīlauea


A clear evening provides stunning views of the summit lava lake

A clear evening provided good views of the lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. Spattering was active along the south margin (left side) of the lava lake, with the gas plume drifting to the southwest (upper left). Mauna Loa, visible in the far distance towering above Kīlauea, provided a stunning backdrop to the lava lake as the sun was setting. HVO and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park's Jaggar Museum, perched on the rim of Kīlauea's summit caldera, can be seen on the skyline in the upper right part of the photo.

Left: This close-up view of the lava lake surface on the south side of the lake shows a typical spreading zone. In this image, the crustal plates on both sides of the incandescent line are migrating to the south (toward the lower left corner of the photo), but the crust on the left side is moving more rapidly to the south than the crust on the right. As the semi-solid crust pulls apart, molten lava upwells between the two plates to create new crust. Right: A slightly wider view of the lake surface, encompassing the photo at left. The lake surface is migrating to the south (lower left corner of image), towards the spatter source visible in the lava lake photo above.

November 23, 2016 — Kīlauea


Breakout on the 61g lava flow field

Left: HVO geologists hiked across the 61g flow field to investigate this breakout at the base of the pali on Kīlauea Volcano's south flank. Toes of active pāhoehoe lava were slowly advancing on top of older ʻaʻā and pāhoehoe flows erupted earlier this year. Right: A close-up view showing the ropy texture that forms on the surface of pāhoehoe lava.

November 22, 2016 — Kīlauea


Breakout from episode 61g vent

A breakout started from the episode 61g vent on the east flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō yesterday morning (Monday, November 21) at around 08:40 AM. The breakout sent lava flows south and northeast, and these flows were still active as of Tuesday afternoon (November 22). This image, captured at 2:10 PM today, is from a webcam on Puʻu Halulu that looks southwest toward Puʻu ʻŌʻō (background). The light colored lava extending into the foreground is the more-active northeast branch of the breakout. This breakout poses no threat to nearby communities.

November 13, 2016 — Kīlauea


Typical lava lake activity within Halemaʻumaʻu

The level of the lava lake at the summit of Kīlauea has been high recently, providing good views of spattering from the Jaggar Museum visitor overlook in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. This photo shows activity as viewed from the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater (closed to the public since 2008 due to volcanic hazards). Spattering is common, and on Sunday (Nov. 13), was focused along the southeast margin of the lake, which is partially obscured by the crater wall.

Foundering of the lava lake crust is common near the lake's margins. The triangular-shaped slab of crust (left of photo's center) was sinking back into the lake as more fluid lava upwelled around it.

November 9, 2016 — Kīlauea


Pele's hair provides clues about Kīlauea lava

A USGS-HVO scientist collects Pele's hair from the parking area south of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, which has been closed since early 2008 due to ongoing volcano hazards associated with the summit lava lake. Today, with the lack of trade winds, the noxious sulfur dioxide gas emitted from the lava lake was being blown away from this area, but his gas mask was at the ready just in case the wind shifted. A hard hat is necessary at all times because explosions within the summit vent, which occur without warning, have thrown pieces of molten lava and solid rock into this area and beyond.

A close-up of Pele's hair from Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake. X-ray diffraction analyses of the Pele's hair (basaltic glass) collected today will provide information on the mineralogy of Kīlauea lava, which, in turn, can shed light whether the magma supply to the volcano is constant or is changing. The accumulation of Pele's hair downwind of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater is the focus of HVO's October 20, 2016, "Volcano Watch" article (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/view.php?id=460), which includes a description of how it forms and additional photos.

November 4, 2016 — Kīlauea


Continued spattering in the summit lava lake

This video shows activity in the summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. Spattering like this is common in the lake, and this video shows the view from the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu (closed to the public due to volcanic hazards). This spattering has recently been visible from the Jaggar Overlook inside Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (open to the public).

November 3, 2016 — Kīlauea


Beautiful weather at Kīlauea makes for spectacular views

This photo shows the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Service Jaggar Museum buildings on the summit of Kīlauea Volcano, overlooking the summit caldera. Mauna Loa volcano looms in the background.

Left: Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, shown here, is about a kilometer (0.6 miles) across and contains a lava lake in a smaller crater, informally called the Overlook crater, at its southeast edge. The lava lake is about 250 m (~820 ft) long and 180 m (~590 ft) wide and, when this photo was taken, the surface of the lake was about 15 m (~50 ft) below the Overlook crater rim. The view is to the southwest, looking out into the Kaʻū Desert in the distance. The western slope of Mauna Loa forms the skyline to the right. Right: This view shows Kīlauea's summit lava from the south, with the east slope of Mauna Loa in the background and Mauna Kea in the distance. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the Hawaiʻi National Park Service Jaggar Museum buildings are visible on the rim of Kīlauea's summit caldera, behind Halemaʻumaʻu. The dark lava flow on the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu was mostly erupted during April–May 2015.

Left: This photo looks south toward the lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu. The April–May 2015 lava flow is not as obvious from this perspective, but the small overflows from October 2016 stand out a bit better. They are visible as shiny pads of lava at the upper left and lower right sides of the lake. Right: The lava lake was spattering in two places along its southeast edge at the time this photo was taken. Lava wells up into the lake nears its northern edge, which is out of sight to the left, and generally flows to the south where it sinks back down along the margin of the lake. The lake surface crusts over quickly as it cools, forming dark, flexible crustal plates separated by spreading zones that reveal molten lava.

Left: There has been little change at Puʻu ʻŌʻō over the past several months. This photo, looking northeast, shows Puʻu ʻŌʻō's current crater, at the center of the image with its outgassing vents, and a smaller pit at lower left hosting a small lava pond. The high point of Puʻu ʻŌʻō is atop the cliff near the left edge of the photo. Right: This photo looks out onto the floor of Puʻu ʻŌʻō from near the high point on the northwest rim of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone. The west edge of the main crater is to the left and the pit with the lava pond is filled with fume just right of center. To better appreciate the size of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, notice the two HVO geologists in orange at the center of the image walking to the West pit to make observations of the lava pond.

Left: Lava continues to flow into the ocean near the location historically known as Kamokuna. This image, taken from near the top of the Pūlama pali, shows the white plume at the ocean entry. The white plume is formed by the interaction of lava and seawater is a corrosive mixture of super-heated steam, hydrochloric acid, and tiny particles of volcanic glass Right: The Pūlama pali is one of several steep fault scarps that cut the south flank of the Island of Hawaiʻi. This image shows the steepest part of the Pūlama pali as viewed from the coastal plain. The fume on the face of the pali marks the trace of the active lava tube carrying lava to the ocean, which is behind the photographer. An HVO geologist, in orange, walks across the flow in the foreground.

Lava entering the ocean at Kamokuna has formed a shelf-like delta that extends seaward along the older sea cliff. The active delta is now just over 16 acres in size. The FEMA emergency access road through Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park ends where it was cut by the episode 61g lava flow. The road continues on the other side where it is visible as a faint diagonal line at upper right. The view is to the west.

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.

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