Maui News

Kīlauea Volcano Eruption Continues, Crater Lake Covers 54 Acres

December 23, 2020, 10:51 AM HST
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  • Scientists continue to monitor the ongoing eruption in Kīlauea Volcano’s summit caldera, Island of Hawai‘i. This photo, from the south rim of Halema‘uma‘u crater and looking north, shows the volcanic gas plume heading west. USGS photo by M. Patrick.
  • The recent eruption at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit, within Halema‘uma‘u crater, has generated a lava lake that is being fed by two fissures. Halema‘uma‘u crater has previously been occupied by a water lake (July 2019 to December 2020) and a lava lake (2008 to 2018). The current lava lake is larger than both previous lakes; though it occupies a similar (but larger) location of the former water lake, its location is slightly more north than the former lava lake. USGS map by M. Zoeller.
  • This comparison shows thermal images taken yesterday and today during USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory helicopter overflights. The main difference in this 24 hour period is the significant rise and infilling of the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u crater at Kīlauea summit. This morning, the lake depth was measured at approximately 130 yards. USGS images by M. Patrick.
  • This comparison shows thermal images taken yesterday and today during USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory helicopter overflights. The main difference in this 24 hour period is the significant rise and infilling of the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u crater at Kīlauea summit. This morning, the lake depth was measured at approximately 130 yards. USGS images by M. Patrick.
  • A helicopter overflight today (Dec. 22, 2020) at approximately ~11:30 AM HST allowed for aerial visual and thermal imagery to be collected of the new eruption within Halema’uma’u crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. This preliminary thermal map shows that the new lava lake is 690 m (yd) E-W axis and 410 m (yd) in N-S axis. The lake area is about 22 hectares (54 acres). USGS map by M. Patrick.
  • Aerial imagery collected during a USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory overflight at approximately 11:35 a.m. HST. The plume from the ongoing eruption rises above the Kīlauea Volcano’s summit, within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Ha‘akulamanu (Sulphur Banks) is visible in the foreground. USGS photo.

Kīlauea continues to erupt at its summit from two vents on the north and northwest sides of the Halemaʻumaʻu crater, according to scientists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The USGS HVO reports that as of late Tuesday afternoon, the growing crater lake was 470 feet deep with a surface area of 54 acres.

According to the HVO, summit tiltmeters continued to record steady deflationary tilt. Sulfur dioxide emission rates remain high estimated at around 30,000 tonnes/day as measured on Monday, Dec. 21. Seismicity remained elevated but stable, with a few minor earthquakes and tremor fluctuations related to the vigor of fissure fountaining, according to HVO scientists.

“Of the three vents that erupted Sunday evening (Dec. 20) from the north and northwest walls of Halemaʻumaʻu, two remained active on Wednesday morning. The west vent, which is located on the lowest down-dropped block within Halemaʻumaʻu crater, is feeding two narrow channels into the lake. The north vent remains the most vigorous,” according to HVO reports.

Webcam views of the lava lake can be found here: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/multimedia_webcams.html

“High levels of volcanic gas, rockfalls, explosions, and volcanic glass particles are the primary hazards of concern regarding this new activity at Kīlauea’s summit,” according to today’s HVO update.

Health officials say vog conditions and sulfur dioxide (SO₂) air levels may increase and fluctuate in various areas of the state.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continues to closely monitor Kīlauea’s seismicity, deformation, and gas emissions for any sign of reactivation, and maintains visual surveillance of the summit and the East Rift Zone.

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