What's Going On With The Volcanoes?

 
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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.

 
Green steaming lake
The body of water in Halemaʻumaʻu crater (NPS Photo/J. Wei)
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 pond. To measure the level of water in the ponds, 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 body is now twice as large as a football field, approximately 330 feet (100 meters) by 660 feet (200 meters) and 92 feet (28 meters) deep. The water is about 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit).
 

Current Conditions Courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

 
Volcanic caldera will small plumes of steam
Kīlauea caldera (NPS Photo/A. LaValle)

Kīlauea
Current Alert Level: Normal
Activity Summary: Kīlauea Volcano is not erupting. Monitoring data for February show variable rates of seismicity and ground deformation, low rates of sulfur dioxide emissions, and only minor geologic changes since the end of eruptive activity in September 2018.

For more current monitoring info about Kīlauea, see: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/status.html

 
Full moon over Mauna Loa volcano
Full moon over Mauna Loa (NPS Photo/J. Wei)

Mauna Loa
Current Alert Level: Advisory
Activity Summary: Mauna Loa Volcano is not erupting. Rates of deformation and seismicity have not changed significantly over the past week and remain above long-term background levels.

For more current monitoring info about Mauna Loa, see: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mauna_loa/status.html

 
 
Current views of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, courtesy of USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
 
Kīlauea Summit - Then and Now
Kīlauea summit on November 28, 2008 Kīlauea summit on August 1, 2018
Kīlauea summit on November 28, 2008 Photo courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Kīlauea summit on August 1, 2018 Photo courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: Then and now. At left is a photo taken on November 28, 2008, with a distinct gas plume rising from the vent that had opened within Halema‘uma‘u about eight months earlier. At right is a photo taken on August 1, 2018 after the massive summit collapses earlier in the summer.



 
Kīlauea Summit - Before & After
NASA image taken on January 14, 2003 USGS photo taken on August 7, 2018
NASA image taken on January 14, 2003
USGS photo taken on August 7, 2018
 Drag center circle/line left and right to reveal the before and after photos.



 
 

Last updated: March 26, 2020

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