Photo and Video Chronology – Kīlauea – December 31, 2020

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Kīlauea's summit eruption continues on the Island of Hawai‘i. HVO field crews—equipped specialized safety gear and PPE—monitor the current eruption from within the closed area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park with NPS permission. The west vent in Halema‘uma‘u remains active.  Gas emissions and seismic activity at the summit remain elevated.

HVO scientists collect detailed data to assess hazards and understand how the eruption is evolving at Kīlauea's summit, all of which are shared with the National Park Service and emergency managers. Access to this hazardous area is by permission from, and in coordination with, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Color photograph of lava lake

Kīlauea's summit eruption in Halema‘uma‘u continued overnight. Lava lake depth was measured as 185 m (608 ft) early this morning, at around 3 a.m. HST; however, windy conditions may result in this measurement being slightly elevated. The lake depth measurements over the past 24 hrs have ranged from 181 to 185 m (593 to 608 ft) deep; the most recent measurements late last night (Dec. 30) and early this morning (Dec. 31) were made in extremely windy conditions and may not be as accurate as earlier measurements made in calmer conditions. Lava continues to flow from the west vent area, visible in the the lower center portion of the lake in this photo, which looks east. USGS photo by M. Patrick.

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of vent and lava lake

The west vent area in Halema‘uma‘u wall continues to feed Kīlauea's summit lava lake. Preliminary analysis of sulfur dioxide emission rates measured Wednesday (Dec. 30) show that the rates are about 3,800 tonnes/day-- about the same as on the 28th and slightly lower than the Dec. 27 rate of 5,500 t/d, but still elevated; all three of the most recent emission rates were in the range of values common for the pre-2018 lava lake. USGS photo by M. Patrick. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of volcanic vent

The western fissure in Halemaʻumaʻu wall remains active. Glowing vents and a prominent spatter cone are visible in this photo, which shows some spattering at the vent. This view looks steeply down from Kīlauea's west caldera rim, and the lava lake surface is visible in the background. USGS photo by B. Carr on 12/31/2020. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava lake

HVO field crews continue to monitor the eruption in Halema‘uma‘u at Kīlauea's summit. Over the past day, the main island of cooler, solidified lava floating in the lava lake continued to drift slowly to the west while the other 10 or so small islands stayed put around the east end of the lake. The main island measured about 250 m (820 ft) in length, 135 m (440 ft) in width, and about 3 ha (7 acres) in area based on the Dec. 30 thermal map. Measurements yesterday evening (Dec. 30) show that the island surface was about 6-8 m (20-26 ft) above the lake surface. HVO scientists monitor the eruption from within an area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park that remains closed to the public for safety reasons. USGS photo by M. Patrick and B. Carr. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of crater and rainbow

Kīlauea's summit on December 31, 2020. The eruption in Halemaʻumaʻu continues. HVO scientists monitor the activity from within an area of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park that remains closed to the public for safety reasons such as volcanic gas emissions resulting in poor air quality. USGS photo by F. Trusdell. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of volcanic vent

The western fissure in Halemaʻumaʻu wall remains active. Glowing vents and a prominent spatter cone are visible in this photo. This view looks steeply down from Kīlauea's west caldera rim, and the lava lake surface is visible in the background. USGS photo by M. Patrick on 12/31/2020. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava lake crust

Kīlauea's summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu is continually re-surfacing. HVO geologists monitoring the activity in the field have observed crustal foundering, in which pieces of solidified lava crust on the surface of the lava lake break and sink back into the liquid portion. USGS photo by M. Patrick on 12/31/2020. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava lake crust

View of the northern portion of the lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu crater at Kīlauea Volcano's summit. Smaller islands present in the northeastern portion of the lava lake are visible. USGS photo by M. Patrick on 12/31/2020. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava lake crust

A channel-like feature is visible on the lava lake surface within Halemaʻumaʻu crater at Kīlauea Volcano's summit. This feature originates from the influx of lava from the western fissure, just out of view on the bottom of the photograph. USGS photo by M. Patrick on 12/31/2020. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava lake crust

Kīlauea's summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu is continually re-surfacing. HVO geologists monitoring the activity in the field have observed crustal foundering, in which pieces of solidified lava crust on the surface of the lava lake break and sink back into the liquid portion. USGS photo by M. Patrick on 12/31/2020. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava lake crust

 The view from Kīlauea Volcano's western caldera rim shows the eastern portion of the lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu crater. The main island is visible in the bottom of the photograph, and smaller islands can be seen above it (to the east). USGS photo by M. Patrick on 12/31/2020. 

(Public domain.)