2023 Summit Eruption

A large lava lake producing several fountains of lava at night.
Views of the lava lake during the first night of the eruption on January 5, 2023. Lava is visible from most overlooks along Crater Rim Drive.

NPS Photo/M.Newman


Anticipation grew after nearly a month-long pause at the summit of Kīlauea volcano. On January 5, 2023, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) geologists recorded heightened earthquake activity and changes in ground deformation. This indicated that magma was on the rise. HVO raised the alert to “watch” and “orange," and at 3:28 p.m. a 3.2 magnitude earthquake joggled visitors at the national park.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m. a surge of lava burst from the floor of Halema'uma'u crater. Visitors and rangers saw awe-inspiring fountains that roared 164 feet (50 meters) into the air. Lava flows inundated the crater floor within hours and filled a 277-acre (112 hectares) area; roughly the size of 240 American football fields.

The only remnants that remained were the higher-elevation "islands" formed during the initial phase of the December 2020 eruption and a ring of older lava around the hardened lava lake from December 2022.

Map dated January 18, 2023 showing the size of the active and non active portions of the lava lake.
Courtesy of the USGS
This reference map depicts the Kīlauea summit eruption on January 18, 2023. One eruptive vent is active inside Halema‘uma‘u crater, within the actively circulating lava lake (red) on the eastern side of the crater floor. The extent of the active lava lake—the area in red—is 27 acres (11 hectares); part of this area is comprised of the active lava lake footprint from the end of the 2021–22 eruption, which has filled with new lava that upwelled from below. The full extent of new lava from this eruption, totaling both the active lava lake (red) and flows that have crusted over (pink) is 292 acres (118 hectares).
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Increased pressure beneath the Halema'uma'u crater led to a 164-foot fountain during the initial phase of the 2023 eruption. In this video, lava outgasses at the surface of an active lava lake producing lava fountains.


Last updated: January 20, 2023

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