Kilauea Update

There has been a slight, but possibly very important, change in the eruption–less lava coming out in the Lower East Rift Zone and a hiatus in summit collapse events–and I’m updating the Kilauea eruption page again. Can’t spend a lot of time on it because of book work, but I’ll try to catch the important stuff. Right now it’s mostly waiting to see the next pronouncement from USGS/HVO.

Click the link at the upper right of this page or use this one.

You’ve seen plenty of video of the lava flowing in the LERZ, so here is a USGS video of a summit collapse event about two months into the eruption. It’s not dramatic to look at–just trees shaking as the seismic waves roll through–but it is every bit as much of a caldera collapse as something CGI’d in a supervolcano movie.

Only it’s in real life, and happening so slowly that we can watch it in relative safety, while carrying on with our lives as usual nearby. And there hasn’t been one of these otherwise daily occurrences since August 2nd; it may never happen again our lifetime. (Then again, it might–you can’t be sure of anything around Pelee!)

Featured image: USGS/Hawaiian Volcano Observatory


Livestream of Kilauea’s Summit Crater

The lava fountains and human drama in Hawaii’s Lower Puna District are getting all the headlines, but geologists know there is also drama ongoing at the summit, where the volcano’s crater seems to have been slowly collapsing since the lava lake drained.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory staff were forced to move farther away from the summit area because the many earthquakes there were damaging the building. Now, they have set up a livestream, and it’s fascinating to watch. Basically, the crater walls are slowly crumbling inward, and there is a pile of rocks at the bottom that may be suppressing the explosions — after a period of suppression, of course, there will likely be a big steam blast to relieve pressure, But no one knows if or when that will happen, or what will happen next.

Anyway, here’s the livestream:

For comparison, here’s a video they recorded in March to mark the ten-year anniversary of the lava lake first appearing in the summit crater. Where he’s standing has already collapsed now.

Here is a drone overlight of Halemaumau they did on May 31st. As you can see, the vent where the lava lake used to be has expanded to almost fill the whole crater. And there’s the rock pile down at the bottom, probably supressing, to some extent, the explosions.

And, about an hour ago, the USGS posted this:

Featured image: USGS. Those curved lines on the left is where the visitor’s parking lot used to be.

Another Kilauea Update

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory/USGS just issued this; I think they mean that the overall deflation at Kilauea’s floor has been 3 feet, not that it dropped that much today. But it’s worth giving you a heads-up because the floor of Kilauea’s summit crater has collapsed before (there’s nobody in it, don’t worry) and it could again – there are some surprising parallels between this ongoing activity and what went on in 1924.

Anyway, here is the update. To follow this eruption in more detail, just click the link in the upper right corner of this page. And thank you for your interest!

U.S. Geological Survey
Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 2:35 PM HST (Thursday, May 17, 2018, 00:35 UTC)

19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WARNING
Current Aviation Color Code: RED


Strong earthquakes within the summit of KÄ«lauea Volcano continue in response to ongoing deflation and lava column drop. As of the afternoon of May 16, the floor of KÄ«lauea caldera has dropped approximately 3 feet (90 cm). This movement is stressing faults around the caldera of Kilauea, causing them to move and resulting in strong earthquakes of up to magnitude 4.4 thus far.

Employees at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and nearby residents are reporting frequent ground shaking and damage to roads and buildings. Hawaii County Police reports cracks across Highway 11 between mile markers 28 and 29. Although these are passable, motorists are urged to use caution.

As deflation continues, strong earthquakes in the area around Kilauea Volcano’s summit are expected to continue and may become more frequent. Areas further from these earthquakes may feel some ground motion as well, but much less severe.

The shallow depths of these earthquakes make them more damaging in the immediate vicinity of the epicenter, and individuals need to take precautions to minimize damage from the shaking, including the removal of unstable items from walls and shelves. Steep slopes should be avoided as they may become destabilized during strong earthquakes.

Featured image: USGS