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In 2018, a new eruption of Kīlauea volcano changed the island of Hawai‘i forever. From May through August, large lava flows covered land southeast of the park destroying over 700 homes and devastating residential areas in the Puna District. At the same time, the summit area of the park was dramatically changed by tens of thousands of earthquakes, towering ash plumes, and a massive collapse of Kīlauea caldera.
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) Now Tracks Water at the Summit of Kīlauea
On August 1st, 2019, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) scientists confirmed a growing pond of water inside Halema'uma'u crater during a helicopter overflight. Similar to the monitoring of ponded lava in Halema‘uma‘u in 2008‒2018, HVO scientists are now relying on both direct observations and modern tools to monitor and document any changes to the water.
The water in Halema‘uma‘u is not visible from publicly accessible areas of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, but HVO now has webcams that provide a direct view of the lake. To measure the level of water in the lake, HVO scientists use a long-range laser rangefinder.
Water samples indicate that the lake has a pH of 4.2 (moderately acidic, in the range of many fruit juices) and high concentrations of dissolved sulfur and magnesium. The lake is an astounding 160 feet (49 m) deep, nearly the height of a ten story building. It is approximately 430 feet (131 m) wide by 885 feet (270 m) long, with a volume of nearly 125 million gallons and growing. The water has a maximum temperature of about 80–85 degrees Celsius (176–185 degrees Fahrenheit). Learn more about the summit lake.
Current Conditions Courtesy of USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Thursday, November 19th, 2020
Current views of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, courtesy of USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Growth of the Water Lake in Halemaʻumaʻu
Halemaʻumaʻu Crater on August 7th, 2019 (USGS/D. Swanson)
Halemaʻumaʻu Crater on April 21st, 2020 (USGS/M. Patrick)
Kīlauea Summit - Before & After Collapse
Kīlauea summit on November 28, 2008 Photo courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Kīlauea summit on August 1, 2018 Photo courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Learn about some of the previous eruptions of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa
Last updated: November 20, 2020