Photo and Video Chronology – Kīlauea – January 4, 2021

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

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.

 

Last night, January 3, at approximately 9:30 p.m. HST marked two weeks since the Kīlauea summit eruption began within Halema‘uma

Last night, January 3, at approximately 9:30 p.m. HST marked two weeks since the Kīlauea summit eruption began within Halema‘uma‘u crater (December 20). In the first several hours of the eruption, three fissures opened on the wall of Halema‘uma‘u crater and cascading lava boiled away the water lake—replacing it with a growing lava lake. This F1cam thermal webcam comparison shows two images from 7:00 a.m. HST on December 21 (left) and January 4 (right). The lava lake depth has risen by approximately 102 m (335 ft) between the morning of December 21 (left) measured at about 88 m (289 ft) and last night measured at about 190 m (623 ft). The central and northern vents (center left) have both been drowned by the rising lava lake and only the western vent (lower center) remains active. Note the lava island floating within the lava lake in both images. USGS thermal webcam images.

(Public domain.)

This video, taken with a telephoto lens from an observation location on the rim, shows a process called “foundering”, in which a segment of cool lava crust on the surface of the lava lake is overridden by less-dense liquid from below causing the crust to sink into the underlying lake lava. Density-driven crustal foundering leading to surface renewal occurs repeatedly throughout the life of a lava lake.

  • Clip 1 show the process during daytime hours. The video is shown at 20x speed. Clip 2 shows the process at night. The video is shown at 10x speed.
  • Clip 1 taken December 31, 2020 by M. Patrick.
  • Clip 2 taken December 29, 2020 by B. Carr.

Matt Patrick and Brett Carr, USGS

(Public domain.)

before
after
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KWcam webcam images compare the changes within Halema‘uma‘u crater since the eruption at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit started two weeks ago. The left image, taken on December 21 at 7:02 a.m. HST, shows the west vent (lower center) and north vent (center left) both erupting lava that is cascading into the new lava lake. In the right image from this morning, January 4 at 9:30 a.m. HST, the west vent continues to erupt and feed the slowly rising lava lake. The inactive north vent shut down early on the morning of December 26, shortly after the west vent significantly increased in eruptive vigor. SO2 emission rates have decreased in the past two weeks, but remain elevated and were measured at about 4, 400 t/d on January 1. USGS webcam images.

The Kīlauea summit eruption within Halema‘uma‘u crater continues from the west vent

The Kīlauea summit eruption within Halema‘uma‘u crater continues from the west vent (left). The depth of the lava lake was measured at approximately 191 m (627 ft) just before noon today, January 4. There have been no major changes at the west vent over the past day, and a small dome-like fountain remains visible where the lava is entering the lava lake from the west vent. 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 D. Downs taken at about 10:00 a.m. HST on January 4.

(Public domain.)