Shortly after approximately 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 20, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) detected a glow within Halemaʻumaʻu crater at the summit of Kīlauea volcano. The water lake that had existed at the summit of Kīlauea since 2019 soon boiled away as an effusive eruption commenced. Three initial vents in the wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater cascaded lava flows into a growing lava lake on the crater floor.
After 5 months of activity, a decrease in effusion indicated that the eruption in Halema‘uma‘u at the summit of Kīlauea was going to pause. HVO field crews did not observe any signs of lava lake activity on May 25, and reported no signs of active surface lava.
The next day Kīlauea was no longer erupting. The crusted-over lava lake was last measured at 229 m (751 ft) deep and was stagnant across its surface.
Below are select photographs and videos from the eruption, as it progresses.
For current monitoring info about Kīlauea, see: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/status.html
Transition From a Water Lake to Lava Lake in Halemaʻumaʻu
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The western vent feeding the lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu became partially submerged in the first days of January. The result is a rolling upwelling of lava called a "dome fountain." The height of the dome fountain was estimated to be about 16 feet (5 m) with an estimated width of 33 feet (10 m). Note: this telephoto image was taken by scientists studying the eruption and this view is not available from publicly accessible areas. Video by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
As of 11:20 a.m. on December 21, two of the three original vents were still active, feeding the lava lake. The northern vent (right side) would soon be submerged.
This photo shows just a few of the reasons why it is critical to stay on trails and in designated overlooks if visiting the park to see the current eruption.
Sinkholes, earth cracks, and unstable cliff edges are not always visible, even in daylight. Stay out of closed areas. Some areas still remain unstable after the eruption of 2018, and seismic activity is always a possibility on an active volcano.
Ranger Tips For A Successful Visit
A new eruption at the summit of Kīlauea is drawing large numbers of visitors. Plan ahead so you can stay safe and enjoy your visit.
From lava to water and back again. Learn about three remarkable changes in the past three years at Halemaʻumaʻu crater.
Last updated: October 5, 2021