July 28: Kīlauea LIDAR Data – 3D Renders by Fumihiko Ikegami

Remember how OpenTopography.org recently posted LIDAR surveys of Kilauea from 2009, June and July 2018?

Well, volcanology PhD student Fumihiko Ikegami (@fikgm on Twitter) has been creating great 3D renders using this data.  Click on images below for large-size views of each render.

You can turn, zoom, and view this 3D model from any angle:

Before it all started— years ago, Ikegami created these using the 2009 data:

Continue reading July 28: Kīlauea LIDAR Data – 3D Renders by Fumihiko Ikegami

June 22-28: Kilauea Webcam Timelapses

`Hawaii 24/7 puts out weekly timelapse videos collecting all the screencaps from the USGS/HVO webcams.

Wide Angle HVO Observation Tower

Past timelapses: May 10-17| May 17-24May 24-31| Jun 1-7| Jun 7-14 | Jun 13-22

Kilauea Caldera (Halema’uma’u Panorama)

Past timelapses: (older) |  Mar 29-Apr 5 |  Apr 5-12Apr 12-19 |  Apr 19-26 |  Apr 26-May 6  | Apr 26-May 3May 3-10May 10-17May 17-24| May 24-31Jun 1-7 | Jun 7-14 | Jun 13-22

Halema’uma’u Overlook Vent (former!)

Past timelapses:  (older) |  Mar 29-Apr 5Apr 5-12 |  Apr 12-19Apr 17-26Apr 26-May 6 | Apr 26-May 3May 3-10May 10-17May 17-24May 24-31 | Jun 1-7 | Jun 7-14 | Jun 13-22

Lower East Rift Zone (Fissure 8)

Past timelapses: May 5-10 |  May 10-17| May 17-24May 24-31| Jun 1-7Jun 7-14 | Jun 13-22

And here’s a search for Pu’u O’o webcam timelapses on this channel. (Why, Google, don’t you let us sort them in order?!)

Changes to Halema’uma’u Crater, Kilauea Summit

Before and after: Halema’uma’u in 1992 & 2018

Left:  November 1992, photo by Winston Brundige*
Right: Screengrab of HVO webcam on June 19, 2018

*used with permission. Thanks, Dad.

Before and after: May vs June 2018

Left: USGS photo from Volcano House, May 19, 2018
Right: USGS photo from Volcano House, June 13, 2018

  • Halemaʻumaʻu before this started: 1 km (0.6 mi) across, 85 m (~280 ft) deep.
  • Halema’uma’u Jun 15, 2018: 1 X 1.3 km (0.6 to 0.8 mi) dimensions, 370 m (1,210 ft) deep.
Radar Images, May 5-June 18

Thanks to the Italian Space Agency for taking a radar satellite image of Kilauea about once a week:

USGS: “May 5 and June 18 at about 6:00 a.m.[…]The last five images in the sequence, from May 29-June 18, show the development of several cracks outside Halema‘uma‘u (also seen in recent UAS footage of the crater) and inward slumping of a large portion of the western, southwestern, and northern crater rim. Much of this motion appears to be coincident with the small explosions from the summit that have taken place on a near daily basis over the past 3 weeks.” (Full-sized)
Yes, HVO and the Jaggar Museum have evacuated, and artwork has been moved to safety.

28 Days At kilauea Summit, May-June 2018
Halema’uma’u Crater, May 24-June 22. Animation of screencaps from USGS/HVO Kilauea Summit wide-angle webcam. (Full-sized)
Views of Halema’uma’u Over the Years

Continue reading Changes to Halema’uma’u Crater, Kilauea Summit

June 1: Changes to Halema’uma’u Crater

A relatively clear day, May 31, finally allowed the USGS to get good, detailed drone footage of changes at the summit.

To orient you on the crater-within-a-crater-within-a-crater (Park Map):

  1. Kilauea Caldera is the megacrater, 2×3 miles across, on whose cliff walls are perched the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Kilauea Visitor Center and Volcano House.
  2. Halema’uma’u is a crater on the floor of Kilauea Caldera, about 2500 x 2900 feet. It held a lava lake in the 1800s, but drained and exploded in 1924, after which it was quiet for most of the 20th century.
  3. The Overlook Vent was a crater on the floor of Halema’uma’u containing a lava lake from 2008 until May 2018. It drained and has been exploding with steam and ash since the beginning of May. Rockfalls from its sides have enlarged it:
changes at kilauea’s summit, May 2018

May 5-29, USGS animation using radar data from Italian Space Agency’s Cosmo-SkyMed satellite:

May 23-31, new radar imagery shows more recent changes. The USGS caption notes that not only has the overlook vent widened, but also Halema’uma’u Crater:

USGS Animation of recent changes at Kilauea’s summit, radar images taken by Italian Space Agency’s Cosmo-Skymed satellite.



Below, a compilation of video footage of Halema’umau and its lava lake in August 2016. Go to timestamp 2:10 for a good view of Halema’uma’u Crater with the Overlook Vent’s lava lake inside. Compare that with the May 31 video above. The black area is lava that overflowed onto the floor of Halema’uma’u when the lake’s level was high.

Halema’uma’u crater and its lava lake in 2016 (USGS).

Note: the “Overlook Vent” was named after the old Halema’uma’u Overlook, because that’s the side where the lava lake vent opened in 2008. There used to be a parking lot and viewing area on Halema’uma’u’s crater rim where visitors could look down into it. In 2008, the Overlook area was closed to visitors, because whenever there was a rockfall into the lake it tended to do THIS:

May 26: Good Morning, Hawai’i

Strange that something so disruptive can be so beautiful.

Hawaii Volcano Observatory Alert: Saturday at 5AM, the summit crater let off a series of explosions at 5AM sending up an ash cloud 11,000 feet that lingered for 25 minutes. Lighter winds may keep ashfall from today’s explosions mostly within the park, giving downwind communities a respite. [Edit: No such luck. Taller ash explosions today had more range.]

HVO webcam caught a nice glimpse of plume by moonlight (“exit” sign of observatory reflected in lens):

(Camera is picking up a few lights from observatory; note “Exit” sign.)

Sadly, it was not so tranquil-looking down in Leilani Estates, 25 miles away:

May 19 – Another Ash Explosion Last Night

USGS reports another explosion last night: “At 11:58 PM Local time, a short-lived explosion at from Halema’uma’u created an ash cloud that reached up to 10,000 ft asl and was carried southwest by the wind. Possible trace ash fall may have occurred along Highway 11.”

I’m not sure whether this was a steam explosion, or just yet another of these rockfall-triggered ashclouds, like this one in 2011:

Hawaii Volcano Observatory is so lucky to have one of the foremost experts in explosive eruptions, Don Swanon, who worked on St Helens so long ago and uncovered Kilauea’s explosive history after transferring to HVO in the 90s.

From KITV May 19:

Experts on this active volcano gathered to share what they know- and what they have discovered is Kilauea has a history of explosive ash eruptions. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Don Swanson sums, “For the past 2,500 years we’ve had explosions more than 50% of the time, so this is the norm for Kilauea. But most of the explosions are minor, like we saw today, with small plumes of ash and steam rising from the summit.”

May 17, Early Morning: Steam Explosion!

May 17, 4:17 AM, the first honest-to-gosh steam explosion like they’ve been predicting (instead of just a rock and lava explosion) sent an ash cloud up 30,000 feet. Gemini Observatory caught it on timelapse:

According to volcanologist Erik Klemetti, the blast threw some 1000-pound blocks, the only place I’ve seen this. See blog post (more pics).

By morning, things had settled down:

Continue reading May 17, Early Morning: Steam Explosion!

May 16: Summit Ash and Small “Ballistics”

May 16, 8:36 AM, a 4.2 earthquake shook rocks from Halema’uma’u Overlook Crater’s walls that fell into the lava lake, caused an explosion, and sent (according to the USGS)  “dense ballistic blocks up to 60 cm (2 feet) across were found in the parking lot a few hundred yards from Halemaumau.”

USGS photo of “ballistic rocks” found in parking lot next to Halema’uma’u Crater, INSIDE Kilauea Caldera, morning of May 16

Here they be. They’re ballistic, in that they soar up and down like a cannonball, with the chimney above the lava lake acting sort of like a vertical cannon. But contrary to several headlines I saw, these rocks are not refrigerator-sized.

There is light ash dusting the area and turning it into a moonscape.


May 15: Still Not the Big One

May 15, 11:05 AM: A major ash explosion up to 12,000 feet — which HVO still guesses was caused by rockfall into the receding lava lake— prompted HVO to raise the aviation alert level to RED, warning aircraft to stay away from the summit and ash hazards.

Unfortunately, news media took this RED ALERT to be “major eruption imminent,” instead of “no more imminent than it already is, since, as a matter of fact, it’s already erupting. But it could increase activity.”

USGS Geologist @DrJanineKrippner has been playing whack-a-mole on Twitter rumors and addressed “Kilauea’s Alert Level Was Just Raised To Red – But What Does That Actually Mean?” on IFLScience, reiterating that it was mostly an aviation alert. So did volcanologist Erik Klemetti, with a good writeup of today’s steam explosions and fissure activity on his Rocky Planet blog.