Photo and Video Chronology – Kīlauea – October 8, 2021

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A new eruption at Kīlauea's summit began at approximately 3:20 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 lava lake and rainbow

Though not every ānuenue (rainbow) has an actively erupting volcanic fissure at its end, this one did for a brief moment during HVO scientists' helicopter overflight of the Kīlauea summit on the morning of October 8, 2021. Misty rains were clearing at the time, forming the rainbow and allowing the scientists a mostly clear view of the western fissure feeding lava into Halema‘uma‘u. USGS image.

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of active lava lake

On the morning of October 8, 2021, HVO scientists completed a routine helicopter overflight of the ongoing eruption within Halema‘uma‘u at the summit of Kīlauea. This overview photo of the lava lake was captured from the northeast, with the erupting western fissure in the right of the frame, and a number of islands from the December 2020–May 2021 lava lake visible in the center. USGS image.

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of volcanic vent

In this overflight photo of the Halema‘uma‘u lava lake, captured on October 8, 2021 and looking from the northeast, two western fissures are visible: one inactive from the December 2020–May 2021 Kīlauea summit eruption (center), and another actively feeding lava into the lake at this time (upper-right). The older fissure is is being partially overlapped by short lava flows, but it has not been completely drowned because field measurements show that it is floating within the lake. The presently erupting fissure has formed a horseshoe-shaped spatter cone around its source. USGS image. 

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of volcanic vent

A view of the west vent in Halema‘uma‘u crater, at the summit of Kīlauea. This photo was taken from the northwest caldera rim, providing a good view inside the cone, as well as a view of the small spillway supplying lava into the lake. USGS photo by M. Patrick.

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava lake surface

This photo from Thursday, October 7, shows the lava lake near the western vent in Halema‘uma‘u crater, at the summit of Kīlauea. The zig zag pattern separating the crustal plates is evident here, as are several spreading zones which cut across the pattern. USGS photo by M. Patrick.

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of island in lava lake

Late afternoon sunlight illuminates the main island in the lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u crater, at the summit of Kīlauea. The island formed in the previous summit eruption (December 2020-May 2021), and was covered with fresh spatter during the opening stages of the current eruption. USGS photo by M. Patrick.

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of volcanic vent

The eruption continues in Halema‘uma‘u crater, at Kīlauea summit. This view from the southern crater rim shows the west vent fountains (center) supplying lava into the western portion of the lava lake. SO2 gas emission rates remain elevated, and were measured at 4,700 tonnes per day on October 7. USGS photo taken by L. DeSmither on October 7, 2021.

(Public domain.)

Color photograph of lava lake

A wide view of the ongoing Kīlauea summit eruption within Halema‘uma‘u, taken from the northwest rim of the crater. The west vent lava fountains (right) continues to supply lava into the slowly rising lava lake. Lava fountaining is no longer visible through the central and southern portions of the lava lake surface. Over the past day or two the surface crust in the north and east (left) ends of the lava lake has began to stagnate. USGS photo taken by L. DeSmither on October 7, 2021.

(Public domain.)

Color graphic showing lava lake depth in crater relative to Empire State Building

On September 29, 2021, fissure vents opened in Halema‘uma‘u crater. A new lava lake began to form on the one previously active from December 2020–May 2021. How much lava has filled Halema‘uma‘u crater?  If the Empire State Building, in New York City, was placed at the bottom of Halema‘uma‘u crater, we estimate the lava lake level could already be as high as the 70th floor!

For reference, the base of Halema‘uma‘u crater after the 2018 collapse was 517.4 m/1698 ft above sea level (asl). A water lake occupied the base of the crater from July 2019–December 2020, to a depth of 50.9 m/167 ft (equal to an elevation of 568.3 m/1865 ft asl). The water lake was evaporated when an eruption began in Halema‘uma‘u crater in December 2020. That eruption created a lava lake that reached a depth of 158 m/518 ft (equal to an elevation of 675.4 m/2216 ft asl) by December 23, 2020. By the end of that eruption in May 2021, the lava lake had reached a depth of 223 meters/732 ft (equal to an elevation of approximately 741 meters/2431 ft above sea level). The eruption that began on September 29, 2021, continues to fill the bottom of Halema‘uma‘u crater and by October 6, had reached a depth of 256.6 m/842 ft (equal to an elevation of 774 m/2539 ft asl) above the former base of the crater after it collapsed in 2018. For comparison, the height of the Empire State Building is 443.2 m (1454 ft).

USGS graphic by J. Bard. 

(Public domain.)

Lava fountains from the western fissure vent in the Halema‘uma‘u crater wall, at Kīlauea's summit during the ongoing eruption. The shaking at the end of the video is due to strong wind gusts moving the tripod. This video clip was recorded on October 5, 2021, from the southern crater rim. 

Natalia Deligne, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

(Public domain.)