Photo and Video Chronology – Kīlauea – January 7, 2021

Release Date:

The eruption in Halema‘uma‘u at Kīlauea's summit on the Island of Hawai‘i continues, with the west vent erupting 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.

The eruption from the west vent in Halema‘uma‘u crater continues at Kīlauea’s summit.

The eruption from the west vent in Halema‘uma‘u crater continues at Kīlauea’s summit. Spatter being ejected from the vent has built another spatter cone, while lava entering into the lava lake is still forming a dome fountain. The lava lake level continues to slowly rise, and as of January 6 at 7:35 p.m. HST the lake was measured at 194 m (636 ft) deep. HVO scientists continue to monitor the eruption within an area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park that remains closed to the public for safety reasons. View looking to the northeast. USGS photo taken by L. DeSmither.

(Public domain.)

Telephoto video of lava flow and fountaining in Halema‘uma‘u lava lake; spatter bursts from the active west fissure vent in Halema‘uma‘u.

  1. Clip 1: The lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u Crater is being fed by two sources from the western fissure today, the tubed over lava stream entering the lava lake at the margin (initiated yesterday) and the small dome fountain (maximum height 5 meters or 16 ft).
  2. Clip 2: The southwest vent of the western fissure is producing periodic spatter bursts that have built the cone up to nearly the height of the previously active cone to the right. In this video, spatter that has built up at the top of the cone collapses, widening the opening.

Hannah Dietterich, Alaska Volcano Observatory

(Public domain.)

The activity at the Halema‘uma‘u west vent area on January 5, 2021, was dynamic. In the foreground, a “dome fountain” upwells from beneath the lake surface, pulsing with a bubble-like geometry. Just behind it, an effusive lava flow emerges from the base of the vent structure. A mid-elevation vent is also active, emitting another effusive lava flow. Finally, the higher elevation vent(s) exhibit intermittent weak strombolian activity, where incandescent spatter is thrown out onto the vent structure. All four of these eruption sources were active in the ongoing Halema’uma’u eruption throughout the afternoon and evening hours.

Kendra Lynn, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava lake, vents, and island

Aerial image of the active west vent area and the largest island in Halemaʻumaʻu's growing lava lake. During the overflight of Kīlauea's summit today (January 7, 2021) at approximately 10:30 a.m. HST, HVO geologists noted that the dome fountain, which had been persistent near the base of the west vent area, had subsided and was no longer present. USGS photo by K. Mulliken. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava lake margin

This photo, taken during an overflight of Kīlauea's summit this morning (January 7, 2021), shows the southeast margin of Halemaʻumaʻu's growing lava lake. The photo shows the boundary between the active portion of the lava lake (left) and the subtle levee around the lake perimeter that allows the lake to be slightly perched. The photo shows that a margin around the lake (right side of photo) is lower than the active portion.  USGS photo by K. Mulliken. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava lake

During an overflight of Kīlauea summit today (January 7, 2021) at approximately 10:30 a.m. HST, HVO geologists captured this image of the growing lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu. Sunny weather allowed for clear views of Mauna Loa, to the west. USGS photo by M. Patrick. 

(Public domain.)

Color image of lava lake temperature

This thermal image, looking northwest, shows the distribution of activity on the lava lake at Kīlauea's summit. The lake is slightly perched and surrounded along its perimeter by a lower ledge of cooler lava. The western fissure, in the wall of Halema‘uma‘u crater, is visible in the upper left portion of the image, just above the lake. Today, the eastern end of the lake (right side of image) was undergoing crustal foundering, in which crustal plates sink and fluid lava resurfaces the lake. USGS image by M. Patrick.

(Public domain.)