USGS HVO Press Release - The Entire Active Lava Bench at East Lae‘apuki Collapsed on November 28, 2005

Release Date:

The entire active lava bench at East Lae‘apuki on the south coast of Kīlauea volcano collapsed on November 28, 2005.

This was the largest bench collapse to occur during Kīlauea's 22-year-long eruption since lava began entering the ocean in late 1986.

The collapse occurred between 11:40 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. and removed approximately 35 acres of bench plus an undetermined amount of the sea cliff behind the bench. The collapse beheaded the active lava tube feeding the bench leaving a 2-meter (6 feet) diameter "firehose" of molten lava arching out from the sea cliff and dropping 15 meters (45 feet) to the ocean below.

The collapse was large enough to be recorded by the HVO seismic network nearly island-wide. 

This event tops the previous collapse record, which was set by a bench collapse in the same location in December 1996. The 1996 collapse claimed 26 acres of bench and sliced off 8 acres of old sea cliff. The history of the Lae‘apuki site was one reason that HVO scientists and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park officials were especially concerned about the stability of the current bench as it continued to expand through the summer and fall of this year.

A partial collapse of the bench in late August removed 11 acres, which was about a third of the bench at that time. Thereafter, the bench continued to expand, with only minor collapses, until yesterday.

Lava continues to erupt from Kīlauea Volcano at the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent, located within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Daily updates about ongoing eruptions, recent images and videos of summit and East Rift Zone volcanic activity, maps, and data about recent earthquakes in Hawaii are posted on the HVO website at

USGS provides science for a changing world. Visit, and follow us on Twitter @USGS and our other social media channels

Subscribe to our news releases via RSS, or Twitter

Links and contacts within this release are valid at the time of publication.