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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 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 larger than a football field, about 194 meters long (640 feet) by 95 meters wide (310 feet) and about 25 meters (82 feet) deep, rising in the bottom of Halema‘uma‘u crater. The water is about 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit).
Current Conditions Courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Thursday, February 13th, 2020
Current views of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, courtesy of USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Kīlauea Summit - Then and Now
Kīlauea summit on November 28, 2008 Photo courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Kīlauea summit on August 1, 2018 Photo courtesy USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Kīlauea Summit - Before & After
NASA image taken on January 14, 2003
USGS photo taken on August 7, 2018
Preliminary summary of Kīlauea Volcano’s 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption and summit collapse (pdf 10.2MB)
Last updated: February 14, 2020