Photo and Video Chronology – Kīlauea – October 12, 2021

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A new eruption at Kīlauea's summit began at approximately 3:21 p.m. HST on September 29, 2021. Lava activity is currently confined within Halema'uma'u crater. Gas emissions and seismic activity at the summit remain elevated. HVO field crews—equipped with specialized safety gear—monitor the 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.

Color photograph of volcanic vent

This zoomed-in view of the western fissure within Halema‘uma‘u, at the summit of Kīlauea, was captured on October 11, 2021, through the lens of a laser rangefinder. A prominent horseshoe-shaped spatter cone, measured to be standing 28 m (92 ft) above the adjacent lava lake, surrounds a roiling lava pond which also hosts taller fountains at times. HVO scientists observed multiple collapses of spatter veneer from the cone into the pond every few minutes; these collapses appeared to have no effect on the fissure's eruptive activity. USGS image by M. Zoeller.

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava flow

This zoomed-in view of the northwest side of the main island within the Halema‘uma‘u lava lake shows a "rootless lava flow" (silver) that formed in the early stages of the eruption on September 29, 2021. A rootless lava flow is one that has no physical linkage with its source eruptive vent, because the flow is fed by molten spatter falling onto a solidified surface. In this case, that surface was the main island in the Kīlauea summit December 2020–May 2021 lava lake, which is now coated with the rootless lava flow. Subsequent deformation of the island as it re-floated within the new lava lake caused cracking that fractured the rootless flow coating. USGS image by M. Zoeller.

(Public domain.)

Kīlauea summit eruption lava fountain height in Halema‘uma‘u crater on October 10, 2021 was highly variable. A persistent low fountain a few meters (yards) tall was frequently interrupted by larger series of bursts throwing lava more than 15 meters (50 feet) into the air and onto the interior walls of the vent cone. 

B. Carr, USGS HVO

(Public domain.)

The eruption continues in Halema‘uma‘u crater, at the summit of Kīlauea. Lava fountaining no longer emerges from the central portion of the lake, with fountaining limited to the west vent shown here. Low fountaining within the cone supplies lava into the lake via a short spillway. 

Matt Patrick, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

(Public domain.)

An HVO geologist makes observations, collects data, and maintains instruments during the ongoing eruption within Halema'uma'u. This video shows some of the typical field work HVO geologists do during eruption monitoring, including collecting high-resolution videos, photos, and thermal images, taking laser rangefinder measurements, and maintaining field camera stations. With permission from, and in coordination with, the National Park Service, scientists work in an area of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park that remains closed to the public due to safety reasons. 

L. DeSmither, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

(Public domain.)