In May 2018, Kilauea Volcano sprung a leak.
For a decade before that, there had been an active lava lake at its summit, nestled inside Halemaʻumaʻu Crater inside a larger caldera. There was also a side vent on the volcano’s shoulder, Puʻu ʻŌʻō, erupting lava for 35 years.
On April 30, the pipes burst under Puʻu ʻŌʻō. All the lava from it and the summit lava lake drained down a “rift zone” (faults and cracks) to a residential area 25 miles away, on the southeast tip of the island. Lava started erupting in the Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) on May 3, and continued through early August.
With all that magma (lava when it’s underground) draining away from the summit of the volcano, Halemaʻumaʻu Crater fell in, and the larger caldera around it sank hundreds of feet as well, revealing sulfur banks and other features not seen since Mark Twain visited in the 1800s. These changes didn’t happen all at once, but in stages. During July there were almost daily collapses with shaking equivalent to an M5.3 earthquake (see my video archive).
For a video summary of this eruption and those that preceded it, see this excellent 10-minute history of Kilauea’s eruptions.
This blog is a record of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, with photos, videos, and info from scientists who study it. I posted daily for the first three months of the eruption, and switched to weekly after the lava in the LERZ stopped gushing and the summit stopped collapsing in on itself.
There’s still a little activity— this volcano almost never goes completely quiet— but for now, residents are holding their breath to see if this eruption is really and truly over.