Monday, October 22, 2012

Kilauea’s Halema`uma`u crater lava lake all time high level

It was back on March 19, 2008 when the Halema`uma`u crater floor had a small explosion creating an open hole down to the raw lava that connects to the massive magma chambers below Kilauea volcano; a crater within the crater. As I remember, the original vent hole was about 162 feet across and the molten lava was something like 800 feet below the floor of the crater. In the four and a half years since then, rises and falls of the broiling lake of lava inside the vent have steadily eroded the walls of the vent; widening it to 520 feet/160 m, in diameter. As well, lava levels have slowly risen and tending to maintain higher levels; currently around 165 feet below the main crater floor rim.
Above: USGS/HVO aerial image showing high molten lava lake level. Saturday, October 20, the USGS reported a brief rise of lava to 125 feet/38 meters below Halema`uma`u crater’s floor, as shown in a recent image they posted on this webpage. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory expressed in a media release that if the lava lake reaches 65 feet below the crater floor rim, then it would be visible to the public from the parks observatory. Yesterday, in a local radio report, Dr. Jim Kauahikaua, HVO’s Scientist-in-Charge, voiced the possibility of this lava lake either breaching onto the main crater floor or creating an eruption in the Kilauea region between Halema`uma`u and Pu`u O`o craters; based on historical patters such as earthquake increases and magma conduit obstructions along with the high lava levels within the summit crater. That prospect is exciting! Big Island Video News posted a great report on these changing lava lake levels using USGS/HVO video: ~~~~~ Meanwhile: lava continues with small breakouts and inflation across a wide area of the coastal plains below the Pulama Pali; as well as tube breakouts above the pali.
Click on any image to open all these photos in a large view window.
After dark some of these molten breakouts can be seen from the lava viewing area next to Kalapana Gardens (2:00PM to 10:00PM.


  1. Nice to see you back posting Leigh. We were lucky enough to hike back with Andrew from Kalapana on Oct. 12. Seen it from the air, from the sea flowing into the ocean in Oct. 2010 and now up close. At night. True story. There was a man there from Russia and I heard him say. I am going to take a piece of rock/lava home. We all said. I dont think I would. Now, it was dark, so he wandered off and came back bleeding from the head and arm. Took a tumble. After we ptched him up. A few of us said. Ya still got that piece of rock? Just saying. ; )
    What a hike. but well worth it.
    Thanks again and good to see you back.
    Don & Debbie