What's Going On With the Volcano?

Current Conditions Courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
View of Halema‘uma‘u from Jaggar Museum
Cell phone photo of Halema‘uma‘u from Jaggar Museum on July 24, 2016

NPS Photo/L. Kroesing

July 30, 2016 - 9:02 AM HST

Activity Summary: Eruptive activity continues at Kīlauea Volcano's summit and East Rift Zone. The 61G lava flow extending southeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō continues its Kamokuna Ocean entry and poses no threat to nearby communities. The lava lake at Halemaʻumaʻu Crater continues to circulate and intermittently spatter. Seismicity and deformation rates throughout the volcano remain at background levels.

Summit Observations: The lava lake within the Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook crater remains active. The depth to the lake was estimated at 26 m (85 ft) below the crater rim, measured last night. Tiltmeters at Kīlauea's summit recorded slightly decreased tilt. Seismicity is within normal, background rates with tremor fluctuations associated with lava lake spattering. The summit sulfur dioxide emission rate ranged from 580 to 3,200 metric tons/day measured yesterday.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: Webcam images over the past 24 hours show persistent glow at long-term sources within the crater. There were no significant changes in seismicity or tilt over the past 24 hours. The sulfur dioxide emission rate from all East Rift Zone vents on July 27 was about 290 metric tons/day.

Lava Flow Observations: The 61G lava flow extending southeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō towards the coastal plain on Kīlauea's south flank remains active, with nearly all surface breakouts limited to the coastal plain. The Kamokuna area ocean entry continues and has widened since July 26. It now spans 240 m (787 ft) where it spills over the sea cliff. Areas of incandescence remain visible in overnight webcam views of the active lava flow field. There were virtually no active breakouts on the pali remaining, with nearly all activity limited to the coastal plain.

As a strong caution to visitors viewing the new ocean entry (location where lava meets the sea) for Flow 61G, there are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the 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. Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates an acidic plume laden with fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.

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

The 61G lava flow from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crossed the emergency road on July 25 and entered the ocean at 1:12 am on July 26, 2016
The 61G lava flow from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crossed the emergency road on July 25 and entered the ocean at 1:12 am on July 26, 2016

Photo by David Okita

Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō lava flow field
Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō lava flow field on July 18, 2016

NPS Photo/C. Weaver

July 15, 2016 - Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Lava Flow Updates

  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. Currently, the flow front is 0.5 miles from the ocean. The actual flow tip 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. From the national park, the easiest vantage point to view the current eruptive activity is from a distance (about 4 or 5 miles away) at the end of Chain of Craters Road (CoCRd), past Hōlei Sea Arch. Park rangers have set up a Coastal Ranger Station (CRS) at the end of CoCRd with eruption update, hiking and safety tip exhibits, and a monitor that plays a four-minute lava safety video. 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. A public spotting scope is also available to view the eruptive activity in the distance, as staffing allows. The park is open 24 hours a day.
Lava crossed the emergency road on July 25, 2016
Lava crossed the emergency road on July 25, 2016

NPS Photo/J. Ferracane

  1. Hiking out to the lava flow from the park is allowed, but it's not for everyone. From the CRS, it's a grueling, 10- to 12-mile roundtrip hike. Hikers may walk along the gravel emergency access route for the majority of the hike. A light beacon has been placed about 3.8 miles in to mark the closest point to the current flows.
  2. All who attempt to hike out the lava flows are urged to prepare ahead and bring a gallon of water for every person in your party. See the safe hiking tips for additional information on proper footwear, clothing, and other important safety information.
  3. If you plan to hike out, do it during daylight. There are no trails or marked routes on the lava field. It's easy to get disoriented and lost after dark. If you intend to stay after dark, ensure you have a good flashlight and/or a headlamp, and extra batteries. Cell phone light sources are insufficient.
  4. Volcanoes are dynamic and ever-changing natural phenomena. The flow information, distances, and other lava information provided here can change at any time.
  5. 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.
  6. 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)
  7. There can be poor air quality at times due to volcanic gas and burning forest. Volcanic gases are a danger to everyone, particularly to people with heart or respiratory problems and infants, young children and pregnant women. If air irritates, smells bad, or you have difficulty breathing, leave the area.
  8. Pets, motorized vehicles, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and overnight camping on the flow field within the park are prohibited.
  9. There is a free viewing area set up by the County of Hawai'i: the Kalapana Lava Viewing Area off Highway 130 in Kalapana. Park rangers have set up a second light beacon along the park's emergency access route about 4.8 miles from the end of Chain of Craters Road (one mile past beacon one) towards Kalapana. The second beacon is about 50 yards inland of the route, and serves as a suggested starting point for hikers accessing the flows from the Kalapana side.
  10. 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.
Kīlauea summit eruption viewed from Jaggar Museum
Kīlauea summit eruption viewed from Jaggar Museum
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 - "Plan for Safe Viewing of Lava Flows"

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 July 19 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as mapped on July 26 is shown in red. Lava reached the ocean on the morning of July 26. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray.

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 http://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 map (opens in a new window)

Thermal Lava Flow Map
Thermal Lava Flow Map

Courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

This image shows a thermal map of the flow on the pali and coastal plain, created from airborne thermal images. White pixels are hot, and show areas of active surface breakouts. The background image is a satellite image collected before the current lava flow was active. The thermal map shows minimal activity on the upper pali, with a channelized ʻaʻā flow at the base of the pali. The flow front area had scattered pāhoehoe breakouts, with a narrow lobe of active lava forming the leading tip of the flow. The leading tip of the flow was 730 m (0.45 miles) from the ocean.

Full resolution image (opens in new window)

Satellite image shows Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō lava flow
Satellite image shows Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō lava flow

Courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory & NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

This satellite image was captured on Wednesday, July 13, by the Advanced Land Imager instrument onboard NASA's Earth Observing 1 satellite. The image is provided courtesy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see. Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.

The image shows that surface breakouts (red pixels) continue to be active on the pali and coastal plain. The flow front remains roughly 900 m (0.6 miles) from the ocean, with little advancement over the past several days.

Full resolution image (opens in new window)

2016 Kalapana lava viewing area
County of Hawai‘i lava viewing area at Kalapana

NPS/J. Ferracane

July 3, 2016 - County of Hawai‘i Civil Defense Agency Press Release (pdf 110KB)
The active lava flow from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō is making its way toward the ocean. 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. Please read the entire press release for more information.

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: http://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/


The lava lakes in the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater and Halemaʻumaʻu crater, as well as other views may be viewed on webcameras made available by the scientists at USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Daily updates by staff that monitor Hawaiʻi's volcanoes provide visitors with the most recent observations on volcanic conditions.


If you are interested in more information about the Kīlauea east rift zone, we invite you to watch the video cast of USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geophysicist Mike Poland from our After Dark in the Park presentation on August 23, 2011. Mike discusses the volcanic history of the area. It's one hour in length and can be viewed here

Pu`u `O`o view from Pu`u Huluhulu before the collapse
Scott Rowland of The University of Hawaiʻi captured this shot of Puʻu ʻŌʻō from the Puʻu Huluhulu lookout the evening before Puʻu ʻŌʻō collapsed and the west flank eruption began on August 3rd 2011.

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