Kīlauea Volcano Summit Lake Deepens to 591 Feet

  • This photo, taken at approximately 5:30 a.m. December 29, 2020, shows Kīlauea’s ongoing summit eruption. The western vent in the wall of Halema‘uma‘u continued to erupt overnight, and the northern/eastern vent remained inactive. At approximately 3:45 a.m. HST today (Dec. 29), HVO field crews measured the lava lake as 179 m (587 ft) deep. USGS photo by H. Dietterich.
  • Animated GIF of lava erupting from a fissure at Kīlauea Volcano at night time on Dec. 27, 2020. PC: USGS/ HVO
  • Animated GIF of lava erupting from a fissure at Kīlauea Volcano at night time on Dec. 27, 2020.
  • Animated GIF of lava erupting from a fissure at Kīlauea Volcano at night time on Dec. 27, 2020. PC: USGS/ HVO
  • HVO scientists monitor the ongoing Kīlauea summit eruption from within an area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park that remains closed to the public for safety reasons. They are equipped with a range of specialized safety gear and personal protective equipment such as gas masks, helmets, gloves, and eye protection. No major changes were observed at the eruption site overnight and this morning: the west vent remains active and continues to feed the lava lake. USGS photo by L. DeSmither.
  • Lava flowing from the western fissure vent feeds multiple channels. This video was taken by Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s geology field team on December 28, 2020, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. The team is located at an observation point on the rim of Halema‘uma‘u crater, and is using a telephoto lens to document fissure behavior. During the three-hour period, the field team observed activity at the western fissure vent diminishing in the channel on the right. The channel narrows and the flow becoming more sluggish, pulsing at times. Activity picks up slightly in the lava channel on the left, which is partially covered by a lava roof. During the video, a small whirlpool is visible at the base of the lava channels, in the lava lake. The three-hour video was sped up to play for a duration of 20 seconds.

Lava activity at the Kīlauea Volcano on Hawaiʻi Island remains confined to Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, with the lava lake deepening to 591 feet and maintaining its 72 acres in size.

As of 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports that the lava lake was 587-591 feet deep with a narrow black ledge around it. The SO2 emissions were reduced from the day before, but remained at elevated levels.

The HVO reports that seismicity remained elevated but stable, with steady elevated tremor and a few minor earthquakes.  

The HVO reports that “Geodetic monitors indicate that the upper portion of the East Rift Zone contracted while the summit deflated.” According to HVO scientists, “This was associated with magma withdrawal to feed the summit vents. There is no seismic or deformation data to indicate that magma is moving into either of Kīlauea’s rift zones.”

Two or three narrow channels of lava were visible this morning at the west vent which continued erupting lava into a lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu crater.

Over the past day, the main island of cooler, solidified lava floating in the lava lake drifted slowly westward in the lake until about 10 p.m. on Monday night when it stalled along with 10 or so much smaller islands to the east.

The main island was about 820 feet long and 440 feet wide, and about 7 acres in area, according to the HVO.

Webcam views of the lava lake can be found here: 

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