What's Going On With the Volcano?

The 61G lava flow is still active on the pali and coastal plain, however the ocean entry is currently halted. Please see "Current Conditions" below for updates from USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

 
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Duration:
3 minutes, 50 seconds

Ranger Shyla explains how visitors can stay "Lava Safe" on the world's most active volcano, Kīlauea,
by following these two simple rules:
1) Be Prepared.
2) Stay out of Closed Areas.
It's Simple!
Additional footage and photos courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

 
 
Current Conditions Courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
 
Halema‘uma‘u viewed from Jaggar Museum on September 15, 2017
Halema‘uma‘u viewed from Jaggar Museum on September 15, 2017

NPS Photo/J. Wei

December 15, 2017 - 8:57 AM HST

Activity Summary: Kīlauea Volcano continues to erupt at its summit and from the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent on its East Rift Zone. The episode 61g lava flow is still producing scattered surface flow activity. These lava flows pose no threat to nearby communities at this time. The surface of the lava lake at Kīlauea's summit was measured at 44 m (143 ft) below the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu crater this morning. There have been no significant changes in ground deformation or seismicity rates across the volcano.

Summit Observations: The lava lake surface was measured at 44 m (143 ft) below the rim of the Overlook Vent this morning. Summit tiltmeters recorded deflationary tilt over the past day. Summit sulfur dioxide emission rates remain high. Seismicity rates were at normal, background levels, with tremor fluctuations related to lava lake spattering. Webcam views of the lava lake can be found at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/multimedia_webcams.html.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: No significant changes are evident at Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Glow has been persistent at long-term sources within the crater and from a small lava pond on the west side of the crater. The tiltmeter on Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone recorded deflationary tilt over the past day. The sulfur dioxide emission rate from the East Rift Zone vents has been steady over the past several months and remains significantly lower than the summit emission rate.

Lava Flow Observations: The episode 61g flow is still active. Based on overnight web camera images, surface lava flow activity persists on the upper portion of the flow field, on the pali and in scattered areas along the coastal plain. A new breakout came over the pali Monday morning and continues. These lava flows pose no threat to nearby communities at this time. A plume from the Kamokuna ocean entry area was not seen in webcam views over the past 24 hours. The webcam views are available at: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/multimedia_webcams.html.

Ocean Entry Hazards: As a strong caution to visitors viewing the ocean entry (where lava meets the sea), there are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry on land or the ocean exposes you to flying debris created by sudden explosive interaction between lava and water. Also, the new land created is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf, causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea. This occurred most recently on May 3. In several instances, such collapses, once started, have also incorporated parts of the older sea cliff. Additionally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates a corrosive seawater plume laden with hydrochloric acid and fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.

Please see these fact sheets for additional information: https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2000/fs152-00/

For comprehensive information on volcanic air pollution please see the vog dashboard at: www.ivhhn.org/vog/

 
December 12, 2017 lava flow map
Lava flow map

Courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea's East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of November 22 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of December 12 is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow line is the trace of the active lava tubes; based on the lack of activity in the lower reaches of the flow field, a portion of the main lava tube leading to the ocean may contain little or no moving lava, but it is still quite hot to the thermal camera. The Kamokuna ocean entry is inactive.

The blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth's surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

Full resolution image (opens in new window)

 
Zoomed photo of lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u
Zoomed photo of Halema‘uma‘u from Jaggar Museum on October 15, 2016

NPS/J. Wei

 
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Duration:
1 minute, 5 seconds

These flows are about a 45 minute hike inland from the former Kamokuna ocean entry and are inside the park boundary.

 
Surface flow breakouts
August 31, 2017 - Upstream Surface flows

NPS/Janice Wei

August 31, 2017 - Planning to hike out to the surface lava flows? We’ve had excellent viewing of surface flows about a 45-minute hike over rough lava terrain mauka (inland) towards to pali (cliffs) all week. The flows pictured are within park boundaries. As always, be Lava Safe: be prepared and stay out of closed areas. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes, long pants and carry plenty of water – at least 3 liters a person.
Link to full resolution photo (opens in new window).
 
Evening glow from Halema‘uma‘u on January 8, 2017
January 8, 2017 - Evening glow from Halema‘uma‘u viewed from the Jaggar Museum observation deck

NPS/J. Wei

 
Halema‘uma‘u lava lake on March 6, 2017
Halema‘uma‘u lava lake on March 6, 2017

NPS Photo/P. Bieschke Jr.

 

 
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Duration:
49 seconds

With narration by Ranger Dean

 
surface flows on the coastal plain
Surface flows on the coastal plain on August 31, 2017

NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Lava Flow Updates

November 2017: The 61G lava flow is still active on the pali and coastal plain, however the ocean entry is currently halted. Please see "Current Conditions" near the top of this page for updates from USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

  1. The 61G lava flow, southeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, continues to stream down the Pulama Pali onto the coastal plain of Kīlauea volcano's East Rift Zone into the ocean. The actual flow is moving slowly and many breakouts were active upslope and widening the flow field. Bright incandescence remains visible on the active lava flow field, marking areas of active breakouts.
  2. Park rangers have set up a Coastal Ranger Station (CRS) at the end of Chain of Creaters Road with eruption update, hiking and safety tip exhibits. Visitors are strongly urged to stop and talk with rangers and review all signage and watch the video at the CRS. The CRS is staffed daily and in the evening during peak visitation hours. The park is open 24 hours a day.
 
surface flow breakout
Hikers photograph lava breakout on October 7, 2017

NPS Photo/Janice Wei

  1. Hiking out to the lava flow from the park is allowed, but it's not for everyone. From the Coastal Ranger Station, it's a grueling, 11 mile roundtrip hike. Hikers may walk along the gravel emergency access route for the majority of the hike.
  2. All who attempt to hike out the lava flows are urged to prepare ahead and bring a 2-4 liters or quarts of water for every person in your party, sun protection, a hat and wear strong hiking boots or shoes. If you hike out later in the day, ensure you have a good flashlight and extra batteries in case you are out after dark. Cell phone flashlights are not sufficient. See the safe hiking tips page for additional information on proper footwear, clothing, and other important safety information.
  3. Stay safe, and be very mindful of poor air quality. When plumes of hazardous volcanic gases (sulfur dioxide and hydrochloric acid) are blown along shore, they are a threat to your health.
 
The presence of volcanic gas increases the closer you get to the ocean entry. This is where the lava crossed the Chain of Craters emergency access road, hiking in from the park side (USGS vehicle). Notice how the plume is blown right over the coastal area
The presence of volcanic gas increases the closer you get to the ocean entry. This is where the lava crossed the Chain of Craters emergency access road, hiking in from the park side (USGS vehicle). Notice how the plume is blown right over the coastal area and road

NPS Photo/J. Ferracane

  1. If you do hike in from the park side, be aware that the gases get stronger the closer you get to the ocean entry. Rangers have roped off the park side of the ocean entry and placed signs warning of the toxic fumes. Be aware that even in the open areas, volcanic gases are likely to be at unhealthy levels. Volcanic gases are a danger to everyone, particularly to people with heart or respiratory problems and infants, young children and pregnant women. Check with rangers at the end of Chain of Craters Road about current conditions before you head out, review the exhibits, and obey all closures and signs. You can head inland to avoid the fumes, and hike until you get upwind of the ocean entry fumes.
  2. Volcanoes are dynamic and ever-changing natural phenomena. The flow information, distances, and other lava information provided here can change at any time.
 
Respect Hawaiian Culture at Lava Flows
  1. Experienced bicyclists may use the gravel emergency access route during the day. It is not recommend to ride bikes on the loose gravel after dark. Motorized bicycles are prohibited.
  2. Respect the Hawaiian culture. Do not poke lava with sticks or other items. Do not roast marshmallows or cook foods. To many Hawaiians, molten lava is the kinolau, or body form, of volcano goddess Pele. In addition, it is a federal offense to remove, destroy, alter, deface, dig or disturb anything from its natural state in a national park. (36 CFR § 2.1)
  3. Pets, motorized vehicles, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and overnight camping on the flow field within the park are prohibited.
  4. Visitors are advised to "slow down and go with the flow." Hiking to the current lava flows is a 6-8 hour adventure for most fit hikers. Adding a roundtrip drive from the west side of Hawai'i Island makes for a very long day, and is not recommended. Remember: Kīlauea is also erupting from its summit crater, Halema'uma'u. You can safely and easily observe the summit eruption from the observation deck at Jaggar Museum, which is open 24 hours a day.
 
December 12, 2016 - Closure of a portion of Eruption Area
Until further notice a portion of the area near the coastal lava flow known as 61g and described below will be closed by direction of the park Superintendant. The closure is based on the potential for airborne debris being projected up to 300 meters from a collapsing lava bench. Flying debris is a safety concern for the public and employees. This closure will be in effect until there is no longer a danger.
Area to be closed: A 300 meter section within the boundary of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park that is marked with posted signs notifying the public of the closure, where possible will be augmented by a rope barrier. Due to the constant shifting of lava benches and ocean entries, this area is subject to change and is therefore only referred to by the current location of posted signs.
 
July 5, 2016 - Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Press Release - Rangers Urge Park Visitors to View Latest Flows from Safe Distance
 

Please view this four minute video - "Lava Safe Tips"

 

The County of Hawai‘i has opened the emergency road on the Kalapana side for lava viewing since Thursday, June 30, 2016, between the hours of 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm daily. This is outside Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and managed by the County.

Kalapana viewing area status (recorded message): 808-430-1966

Directions to Kalapana from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park: Take Hwy 11 towards Hilo to Hwy 130. Follow Hwy 130 until you reach the road's end and the visitor parking area. (45 miles).

 

HOT LINES for Eruption Information

Resources for more information about the lava flows:

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
by phone at: (808) 967-8862
by web at: https://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php

County of Hawai'i Civil Defense
by phone at: (808) 935-0031 (7:45 am - 4:30 pm)
by web at: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/

 
 
Photo Comparison - Drag the Arrows Left & Right
USGS overflight view of the episode 61G lava flow entering the ocean at Kamokuna on March 30, 2017 Thermal view
USGS overflight view of the episode 61G lava flow entering the ocean at Kamokuna on March 30, 2017
Thermal view - Photos courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory - Following the December 31, 2016, lava delta collapse at Kīlauea Volcano's Kamokuna ocean entry, lava continued to flow into the sea without building a new lava delta, most likely because the lava was cascading down a steep offshore slope to deeper parts of the ocean. But in late March 2017, a new delta finally began to form, although it was obscured by steam during HVO's March 30 overflight (left photo). The thermal image at right shows lava streaming into the ocean from the leading edge of the delta (bright yellow area in center of image) and the adjacent heated seawater (discolored water in the photo). It also shows the trace of the active lava tube that carries lava from the vent to the sea (right side of image), as well as small breakouts of lava along the tube and surface flows near the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent (top of image).



Last updated: December 15, 2017

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