HVO Photos & Video

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February 14, 2017 — Kīlauea


A Valentine's Day view of Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake

Today, Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake level was 21 m (69 ft) below the vent rim. A long stretch of active spattering was visible along the east lake margin from the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, an area that remains closed to the public due to ongoing hazards. The usual spatter source to the southeast was small by comparison. In the afternoon light, the dark lava flows on either side of the vent rim were quite visible. These flows spilled onto the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater in April-May 2015, and again in October 2016, when the lava lake level briefly rose above the vent rim several times.

A telephoto view of the east lake margin showed that the spattering was focused in small embayments created by promontories of cooled, congealed lava jutting from the vent wall.

At times, spattering along the east lake margin reached heights of 6–9 m (20–30 ft), as shown in this telephoto image.

61g flow coastal breakout still active

The 61g flow breakout that started on February 10 on Pulama Pali was still active today. The flow front (shown here) is approximately 2.3 km (1.4 mi) from the base of the pali and 1.2 km (0.75 mi) from the ocean. The flow front is on the eastern side of the 61g flow field, and is outside the National Park boundary.

February 12, 2017 — Kīlauea


High-tech instruments track volcanic gases at Kīlauea Volcano

Left: An FTIR instrument is set up on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater to measure volcanic gases from the summit lava lake. The open-path Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer continuously measures the gases in a volcanic plume, measuring the relative abundance of each. Most of the gas emitted during a volcanic eruption is water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide(SO2).
Right: HVO's geochemist uses a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) instrument to track volcanic gases emitted from the lava lake with Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. These measurements help detect changes in gas composition, which can provide insight into the inner workings of Kīlauea Volcano.

View of the lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater from the FTIR spectrometer monitoring location. At Hawaiian volcanoes, magma ascends from the mantle more than 60 km (about 40 mi) below the surface, to a reservoir less than 2 km (about 1.2 mi) deep. As the pressure decreases, the gases dissolved in the magma bubble out and escape. Magma continues to rise through a shallow conduit to the Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake, where it continues to degas (the blue haze is indicative of sulfur gases).

February 8, 2017 — Kīlauea


"Firehose flow" visible from public lava viewing area

Left: The "firehose flow" at Kīlauea Volcano's Kamokuna ocean entry was clearly visible from the public lava viewing area established by Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. The viewing area is 800 meters (about one-half mile) from the ocean entry, but affords excellent views of the lava flow. Right: A telephoto lens captures a closer view of the Kamokuna "firehose flow."

VIDEO: Kīlauea Volcano's Kamokuna ocean entry. Today, the "firehose flow" could be clearly seen from the public lava viewing area, 800 meters (about one-half mile) east of the ocean entry, in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

Left: Explosive interactions between the lava and ocean can throw spatter high onto the cliff around the ocean entry. Spatter in photo is visible scattered across the sea cliff with a glove for scale. Right: Close up view of the Pele's hair and Limu o Pele that blankets the sea cliff around the Kamokuna ocean entry. The coverage is especially thick in the areas downwind of the ocean entry which may make it difficult to see all areas of extended cracks.

Left: Photo looking toward the public viewing area (arrow) from near the ocean entry. Right: Photo of the upper portion of the "firehose" taken with a telephoto lens as the lava exits the 61g flow lava tube. There is no sign of a lava delta rebuilding as the lava continues to spill into the ocean.

February 2, 2017 — Kīlauea


Sea cliff at Kamokuna ocean entry collapses

HVO geologists hiked to the Kamokuna ocean entry today to assess the status of the sea cliff. When they arrived, the "firehose" flow was no longer visible. However, spatter (bits of molten lava) and black sand flying through the steam plume indicated that lava was still flowing into the ocean and interacting explosively with seawater. Just below the left side of the steam cloud, a small shelf of the Kamokuna lava delta that survived the New Year's Eve collapse can be seen.

Within minutes of HVO geologists reaching the ocean entry site, the sea cliff seaward of the hot crack (see Jan. 30 images) collapsed with no warning; fortunately, they were far enough away to not be in harm's way. The top photo was snapped just before the collapse occurred. The bottom image shows the remaining sea cliff after the collapse. Yellow arrows point to the same rocks in both photos for comparison.

VIDEO: The section of sea cliff above the ocean entry collapsed today at about 12:55 p.m. The sea cliff had become increasingly unstable as a large crack 5–10 m (16–33 ft) inland of the ocean entry had more than doubled in width, from 30 cm (1 ft) to 70 cm (2.5 ft), over the past several days. A video camera, which had just been set up to monitor movement of the crack near the sea cliff, captured the moment of collapse.

The entire section of the sea cliff that was seaward of the hot crack collapsed, except for a small block of rock (left) at the eastern end of the crack; this piece of the sea cliff, estimated to be 30 m long and 5 m wide (98 x 16 ft), remains highly unstable and could collapse with no warning. During the collapse, rocks hitting the ocean generated a wave that propagated outward from the coast. After the collapse, no lava was visible, but is apparently still flowing into the sea based on the continuing steam plume and explosions of spatter.

February 1, 2017 — Kīlauea


Crack above Kīlauea's ocean entry has widened, increasing instability of sea cliff

The hot crack near the sea cliff, in the immediate area of the ocean entry, has widened significantly over the past four days. On Saturday, January 28, the crack was 30 cm wide (1 foot). Today, HVO geologists in protective gear briefly entered the area and measured the crack as being 75 cm (2.5 feet). In this image comparison, the yellow stars show corresponding points in the two images. The arrow also shows how much the crack has widened.

Remarkably, grinding noises could be heard coming from the crack, and the block of sea cliff on the makai (ocean) side of the crack could be seen to move slightly. These signs indicate that the section of sea cliff around the ocean entry is highly unstable and could collapse at any time.

From the lava viewing area established by Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, you can witness Kīlauea Volcano's ocean entry from a safe distance. With binoculars or a telephoto camera lens, spectacular views and photos are possible (as seen here)—without risking your life by entering the closed area. As lava streams into the ocean, explosive interactions between the molten lava and cool seawater hurl spatter and rock fragments skyward, often as high as the sea cliff, which is about 28 m (92 ft) high.

Left: Using a telephoto lens, spatter and glassy rock fragments (black sand) from the explosive interaction of molten lava and seawater can be seen flying skyward and seaward. At times, these fragments were thrown high enough to land on the sea cliff above the ocean entry—one of many hazards impacting this area. Right: Detailed views of the "firehose" flow streaming from the lava tube, spatter, and rock fragments were provided by zooming the telephoto lens in even closer.

This image comparison shows the changing nature of the lava stream between Saturday, January 28 and Wednesday, February 1. The lava stream has become much more narrow, as viewed from this angle.

January 30, 2017 — Kīlauea


Ground crack at Kīlauea ocean entry is cause for concern

Due to the instability of the sea cliff above the ocean entry and other hazards created by molten lava flowing into the sea, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park has established a viewing area (noted by yellow arrow in photo) from which the ocean entry can be seen in relative safety.

Left: A thermal image taken during HVO's overflight of Kīlauea Volcano's ocean entry on Jan. 25, 2017, revealed a hot ground crack in the sea cliff just above where lava is flowing into the sea. Because the crack suggested an unstable sea cliff, HVO geologists briefly visited the site on foot for closer observations and measurements this past weekend.

Right: Carefully approaching the site in protective gear on Jan. 28, HVO geologists determined that the eastern end of the hot crack was about 30 cm (11.8 in) wide and deeply cut into recent lava atop the older sea cliff. The western end could not be accessed due to poor air quality, spatter fallout, and other safety concerns. This crack could be a precursor to collapse of an unstable section of the sea cliff, making the site extremely dangerous for anyone who ventures too closely to the ocean entry by land or by sea.

Using a thermal image of the crack above Kīlauea volcano's ocean entry (steam from lava flowing into the sea is visible at the top of the left photo), HVO geologists determined that the temperature within the eastern end of the crack is up to about 220 degrees Celsius (428 degrees Fahrenheit).

At Kīlauea's ocean entry on Jan. 28 and 29, the interaction of molten lava flowing into cool seawater caused pulsating littoral explosions that threw spatter (fragments of molten lava) high into the air. Some of these incandescent clasts fell on top of the sea cliff behind the ocean entry, forming a small spatter cone. During one exceptionally large burst, spatter was thrown about twice the height of the sea cliff. These ocean entry littoral explosions, both large and small, create hazardous conditions on land and at sea.

January 29, 2017 — Kīlauea


Evening views of the ocean entry

The lava stream, pouring out of the lava tube on the sea cliff at the Kamokuna ocean entry, continues and was similar to yesterday. The stream appeared wider (as viewed from this angle) today compared to yesterday, and often had holes in the thin sheet. The entry was still producing small, pulsating littoral explosions.

A wider view of the ocean entry, at sunset.

This video clip shows the open lava stream pouring into the ocean. Frequent littoral explosions throw bits of lava to heights of over 27 m (30 yards).

January 28, 2017 — Kīlauea


Open lava stream continues at ocean entry

An open lava stream continues to pour out of the lava tube, perched high on the sea cliff, and into the ocean. The stream was remarkably steady today, but produced pulsating littoral explosions that threw spatter onto the sea cliff.

Left: A wider view of the ocean entry. Right: Near the base of the lava stream, just above where it impacted the water, there were commonly ripples in the stream, suggesting this was a narrow sheet of lava. These ripples can be seen on the lower right side of the lava stream. A few small, steaming clasts thrown up by a small littoral explosion are visible in front of the stream.

A close up of the stream near the spot where it exits the tube. This view was only possible with a very high magnification lens.

This video shows a wider view of the open lava stream at the ocean entry, and the frequent littoral explosions.

This video shows a close-up of the base of the lava stream, where ripples in the narrow sheet of lava are visible.

January 25, 2017 — Kīlauea


Lava continues to stream out of tube at Kamokuna ocean entry

A steady stream of lava exiting the episode 61g lava tube pours into the ocean at the Kamokuna ocean entry. The interaction between the lava and ocean water causes explosive reactions, throwing bits of lava (seen in the photo at the base of the lava stream).

Left: Since the delta collapse on December 31, 2016 there has not been any evidence of the lava delta rebuilding. The fume trace of the 61g tube system on the coastal plain is visible up slope from the ocean entry. The cove in the sea cliff (at center) is where the ~4 acre portion of old sea cliff collapsed into the ocean after the delta fell in. The new public lava viewing area and rope line is in the lower right, and the emergency access road is just inland from the coast. Right: Misty weather created a double rainbow over Pūlama Pali and the 61g flow field. Fume trace from the tube can be seen at bottom center.

A close up of the lava stream pouring out of the tube and directly into the Pacific Ocean.

This video clip shows the lava stream - about 1-2 m or yards wide - pouring out of the tube into the Pacific Ocean, triggering pulsating explosions that are throwing bits of lava onto the top of the sea cliff.

This thermal image shows the Kamokuna ocean entry. Two plumes of hot (scalding) water branch out from the entry point. The lava stream itself is the very hot feature right of center. Just above the lava stream, about 10 meters (yards) behind the sea cliff, is a narrow line of high temperatures that appears to be a hot crack. This hot crack suggests that the sea cliff around the entry point is unstable and has the potential to collapse.

January 24, 2017 — Kīlauea


The ups and downs of Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake

Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake level typically rises and falls in concert with summit inflation and deflation, as shown by these two HVO webcam images. The left image was captured a week ago (on Jan. 17, 2017), when the lava level was 52.5 m (172 ft) below the vent rim, the lowest level measured since April 8, 2016. The right image, captured this morning (Jan. 24, 2017), shows the lava lake level at 15 m (49 ft) below the vent rim. Unfortunately, gases emitted from the lava lake and poor weather conditions partially obscure the images.

January 19, 2017 — Kīlauea


Rising summit lava lake level improves views of spattering

Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake level rose over the past day with steep summit inflation, providing improved views of spattering from visitor overlooks in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. This photo was taken from the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, an area that is closed to the public due to ongoing volcanic hazards, and shows spattering in the southeast corner of the lava lake. The main portion of spattering was about 10 meters (yards) high, but small bits of spatter were thrown over 20 meters (yards) high. On Friday morning (Jan. 20), small bits of spatter from the lava lake surface were visible from the Park's Jaggar Museum overlook.

This video clip of Kīlauea Volcano's summit lava lake shows spattering along the southeast margin of the lake.

January 15, 2017 — Kīlauea


Lower level of Kīlauea's summit lava lake exposes vent wall

The summit lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater today (Jan. 15, 2017) was about 50.5 m (166 ft) below the crater floor (vent rim). One of the most interesting things exposed by the lower lake level was the clear view of the thick, dark veneer of lava on the eastern vent wall (close-up shown below). This veneer formed when the lava lake level was high; lava next to the vent wall cooled and solidified, leaving "bathtub rings" as the lake level rose and fell. The black rock on the crater floor around the vent was created when the lava lake rose to the point of overflowing in April-May 2015 and October 2016. HVO and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park's Jaggar Museum, perched on the rim of Kīlauea's summit caldera, are visible in the upper left corner of the photo.

Left: Telephoto image of the lava veneer on the 50.5 m (166 ft) tall eastern vent wall; the lava lake surface is visible at lower left. The solidified lava coating the vent wall is quite thick. Parts of it have bathtub rings, but much of it is composed of lumpy protuberances that might have been small ledges at the lake margin or ramparts that formed around spattering sources. If the lake level remains low, sections of this veneer will likely peel away from the vent wall and collapse into the lava lake. Right: In places, the dark-colored veneer of lava, or bathtub rings, have already collapsed into the lava lake, exposing older, light- or rusty-colored rocks in the vent wall. The lava lake surface is visible in the foreground. The distance from the vent rim to the lake surface is 50.5 m (166 ft).

January 12, 2017 — Kīlauea


November 21 breakout remains active and Kamokuna ocean entry continues

The November 21 breakout from the episode 61g lava flow remains active. The tip is 2.4 km (1.5 mi) straight-line from the vent, and the furthest active lava is roughly 600 m (660 yd) back from the tip. The breakout, extending to the lower right of the image, can be identified by its light silver color. Puʻu ʻŌʻō is visible in the upper left of the photo.

Left: The Kamokuna ocean entry remains active. On December 31, approximately 21 acres of delta collapsed into the ocean. The remaining ~2.5 acres can be seen at the base of the sea cliff in long narrow sections. On the lower right of the photo, a scarp is visible where a portion of the old sea cliff collapsed. Degassing from the 61g lava tube is visible from the ocean entry to the upper right of the photo, and Puʻu ʻŌʻō is visible in the top middle of the photo. Right: A close up view of where approximately 4 acres of old sea cliff fell into the ocean during the delta collapse on December 31. The far eastern end of this collapse (right), is where the old public viewing area was located prior to the collapse.

On the left is a normal photograph of the ocean entry, which produces a robust steam plume and an area of discolored water extending out from the entry point. The thermal image on the right shows how this area of discolored water corresponds to scalding water temperatures.

Another view of the ocean entry, with the plume of hot water extending out from the ocean entry point.

January 3, 2017 — Kīlauea


Ongoing activity at Kamokuna ocean entry

Left: Part of what's left of the eastern Kamokuna lava delta following the New Year's Eve collapse can be seen in the center foreground of this image. Visible cracks on the surface of this rocky shelf indicate potential instability and serve as reminders for visitors to the lava viewing area to heed all warning signs. Right: A telephoto lens captured the cascade of lava streaming from the lava tube. Hot lava mixing with cool seawater produces an explosive interaction that results in fragmented lava—spatter, Pele's hair, and black sand—flying upward, landing on the sea cliff above the ocean entry and being thrown seaward. These fragments pose a hazard to anyone who ventures too close to the ocean entry by land or by sea.

A closer view of lava cascading from the lava tube at the Kamokuna ocean entry, with spatter (fragments of molten lava) and black sand (volcanic glass) being thrown skyward.

Left: A glove provides scale for spatter (lighter gray, shiny fragments) that landed on the sea cliff above the Kamokuna ocean entry. Right: Pele's hair, filaments of volcanic glass, formed from the explosive interaction of hot lava entering the ocean, accumulates on the lava surface above the ocean entry. Some is also blown far downwind of the ocean entry.

January 1, 2017 — Kīlauea


Kamokuna lava delta collapse also takes part of old sea cliff

The rocky shelf at the base of the sea cliff is all that remains of the Kamokuna lava delta following the New Year's Eve collapse (Dec. 31, 2016), which sent acres of rock plunging into the sea. The exposed lava tube continued to feed a cascade of molten rock down the steep sea cliff, beginning the process of building another lava delta at the ocean entry, as this photo was taken on Jan. 1, 2017. When the lava delta collapsed, solid and molten fragments of lava and superheated steam exploded skyward, creating tremendous hazard for anyone who ignored the warning signs and entered the closed area on land or ventured too close to the lava delta by boat.

In addition to most of the Kamokuna lava delta disappearing into the ocean on New Year's Eve day, a large section of the older sea cliff east of the delta also collapsed. Here you can see the "bite" taken out by the collapse of the sea cliff. At right, an HVO geologist, donning a hard hat in case of another collapse and explosion, mapped the new edge of the coast (see map at https://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/maps/).

December 4, 2016 — Kīlauea


Time-lapse sequence of lava lake activity at Halemaʻumaʻu

This video, at 50x speed to illustrate the motion of the lava lake surface, shows typical lava lake activity within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. Lava upwells in the northern portion of the lake (left side of image), with most of the lake surface flowing towards the south (right side). Spattering is active within a small grotto at the southeast margin of the lake.

December 2, 2016 — Kīlauea


Another rockfall triggers an explosive event in the summit lava lake

As you watch this VIDEO CLIP, note the rocky ledge (yellow arrow) at the bottom of the webcam image. At 6:58 a.m., HST, today, this large slab of the summit vent wall, located directly below HVO's HMcam, collapsed. Rocks falling into the lava lake triggered a small explosive event that bombarded the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater with spatter (fragments of molten lava), similar to Monday's (Nov. 28) event. These rockfalls and explosions, which occur without warning, in addition to sulfur dioxide gas emissions, are why this hazardous area remains closed.

November 30, 2016 — Kīlauea


Views of the Kamokuna ocean entry

A close-up of one of several streams of lava entering the ocean at the front of the Kamokuna lava delta on Kīlauea's south flank. The billowy white plume formed by the interaction of hot lava and seawater may look harmless, but it is a mixture of superheated steam, hydrochloric acid, and tiny shards of volcanic glass—all of which should be avoided.

A wide view of the ocean entry, showing the broad lava delta on the right. Lava deltas (new land formed at the ocean entry) are built on a foundation of rubble, so they can (and do) collapse without warning. Because of this, lava deltas are one of the most hazardous areas on Kīlauea, and people are urged to enjoy the beauty of the ocean entry from a safe distance.

November 29, 2016 — Kīlauea


Ocean entry continues, with breakout near Puʻu ʻŌʻō

Lava continues to enter the ocean at Kamokuna, where a lava delta about 19 acres in size has been built. The gravel emergency access road is visible on both sides of the surface flow that cut it. The view is to the southwest.

Left: Large cracks parallel to the shoreline are still visible on the Kamokuna delta, indicating instability. The view is to the northeast. Right: Lava is transported to the Kamokuna ocean entry, its plume is visible in the distance, via a lava tube. The trace of an active lava tube is often identifiable by a line of fume, as seen here for the episode 61g lava tube above the Pūlama pali.

A breakout from the episode 61g vent at the head of the lava tube on November 21 sent lava streaming downslope. That breakout was still active when observed on November 29 and had traveled about 1.3 km (0.8 miles), partly surrounding Puʻu Halulu, a tephra cone formed in 1983 at the start of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption. The PEcam webcam looks upslope from Puʻu Halulu toward Puʻu ʻŌʻō, which is shrouded by clouds (top background).

Typical lava lake activity in Halemaʻumaʻu

Kīlauea's summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu is about 255 m (~840 ft) long (left to right in the image) and 195 m (~640 ft) wide. From this perspective, magma rises into the lake near its north edge (upper left) and circulates to the south, where it sinks all along the south margin of the lake. The rim of Halemaʻumaʻu is at the right edge of the photo, and the closed visitor overlook is hidden beneath the fume at upper right.

Left: Another view of Halemaʻumaʻu with its lava lake. The view is to the southeast. Right: The U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the National Park Service Jaggar Museum are perched together near the summit of Kīlauea, about 1.7 km (~1.1 mi) from the lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu, producing a plume in the background.

November 28, 2016 — Kīlauea


Rockfall triggers an explosive event in summit lava lake

VIDEO CLIP captured by HVO webcam: At 11:59 a.m., a rockfall from the south wall of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater triggered a small explosive event in the summit lava lake. The explosion threw spatter (fragments of molten lava) onto the rim of the crater, mostly to the west of the former visitor overlook. This area has been closed to the public since 2008 due to ongoing volcanic hazards, including explosive events like the one that happened today.

This VIDEO CLIP shows a cloud of ash and spatter being thrown from the summit lava lake during today's explosive event. The images were captured by an HVO webcam located on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, just above the rockfall area. Spatter falling onto the crater rim is a reminder of the hazards that exist in this area, which has been closed since 2008.

Left: HVO scientists visited the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu this afternoon (11/28) to collect samples of tephra and check for equipment damage. This view, taken on the approach to the Halemaʻumaʻu, shows the tephra deposit on the crater rim. New spatter is seen as dark lumps scattered across the center of the image on top of older brown-colored Pele's hair. The closed Halemaʻumaʻu overlook is in the background at right; HVO and the Jaggar Museum are on the caldera rim in the distance near upper left. Right: This view shows the main body of the tephra deposit, which comprises the dark fragments scattered from the foreground to the web camera in the background (the HTcam thermal webcam). The rim of Halemaʻumaʻu is to the right; the closed overlook is behind the photographer.

Left: The larger spatter bombs bounced after hitting, leaving divots in the layer of Pele's hair that blankets the area, as seen here. These bombs are the diameter of large dinner plates. Right: The largest spatter bombs traveled the farthest, perhaps aided by momentum, landing on the trail between the Halemaʻumaʻu parking area and overlook. Upon landing, these bombs splatted to form complexly shaped bomb fragments connected by thick strands and masses of Pele's hair.

Only a relatively small amount of spatter reached the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu, compared to the thick, continuous layer of spatter seen here on the intermediate ledge midway between the lava lake and the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater rim.

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