Photo and Video Chronology – Kīlauea – December 20, 2020

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Shortly after approximately 9:30 p.m. HST, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) detected glow within Halemaʻumaʻu crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. An eruption has commenced within Kīlauea’s summit caldera. The situation is rapidly evolving and HVO will issue another statement when more information is available.  

On December 20, 2020 just after 9:30 PM HST, lava began flowing from three fissure vents inside the crater of Kīlauea. The water lake at the base of the Halema'uma'u crater has boiled off. Lava is now feeding a growing lava lake. Additional photos and video are available at

(Public domain.)

Colo photograph of lava

An eruption started at Kīlauea summit on December 20 at approximately 9:30 p.m. HST with multiple fissures opening on the walls of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. The lava cascaded into the summit water lake, boiling off the water and forming a new lava lake at the base of the crater. The northern fissure, pictured, was producing the tallest lava fountain at roughly 50 m (165 ft), and all lava was contained within Halemaʻumaʻu crater in Kīlauea caldera. USGS photo. 

(Public domain.)


Color map of fissure locations

Shortly after approximately 9:30 p.m. HST, an eruption commenced at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. Red spots are the approximate locations of fissure vents feeding lava flowing into the bottom of Halema‘uma‘u crater. The water lake at the base of Halema‘uma‘u crater has been replaced with a growing lava lake. Lava coverage is deeper by 10 m (32 ft) or larger and bigger in extent than the water in this photo (base map is from imagery collected on September 23, 2020). The easternmost vent is currently exhibiting fountains up to approximately 50 m (164 ft) high with minor fountaining on the west side. Occasion blasts of uncertain origin are occurring from lava lake surface. USGS photo. 

(Public domain.)

color photograph of volcanic plume

A steam and gas plume from the eruption in Halemaʻumaʻu crater at Kīlauea summit. Lava contained within the crater illuminates the steam produced by the lava interacting with, and boiling off, the summit water lake that resided in the base of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. USGS photo. 

(Public domain.)

ANIMATED GIF: This animated image file (GIF) includes a series of webcam images—one image every two minutes—from the F1cam therm

ANIMATED GIF: This animated image file (GIF) includes a series of webcam images—one image every two minutes—from the F1cam thermal camera located on the western rim of Halema‘uma‘u crater, Kīlauea summit. The images are in a continuous loop showing the first few hours of the summit eruption which started on December 20. The first image is from 9:20 p.m. HST, approximately 10 minutes prior to the start of the eruption, and the final image was taken at 1:06 a.m. HST on December 21. USGS GIF by L. DeSmither.

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of eruption

Kīlauea's summit eruption at 2:15 a.m. HST on December 21. From the west rim of Kīlauea caldera, a gas plume can be seen rising from Halemaʻumaʻu crater. This plume is drifting to the southwest with the trade winds. Increased sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates associated with new eruption may lead to voggy conditions downwind. USGS photo.

(Public domain.)