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Elevation of the lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu crater, Kīlauea Volcano, from 2009 to 2018

May 31, 2023

This data release includes measurements of the surface elevation of the lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu crater, at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano, during the 2008-2018 summit eruption (Patrick and others, 2021). The data were measured by several instruments (laser rangefinder, webcams, lidar) and are compiled here to provide the most complete dataset yet available on the elevation of Kīlauea’s 2008-2018 summit lava lake.

The measurement intervals range from 1 s to 1 day, with most of the 9-year period covered by hourly measurements. The dataset begins with daily measurements of the emergent lake in 2009 and 2010. After 2010, continuous lake activity was tracked with hourly measurements of lava level that continued into 2018. The dataset ends with a high-precision (1 Hz) record of the lake draining as the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption drew magma from the summit reservoir, terminating the summit lava lake activity in May 2018 (Anderson and others, 2019).

Lava lake level provides unique insight into the deeper magmatic system, as well as constraints on shallow outgassing processes (Anderson and others, 2015; Patrick and others, 2016, 2019a). As a proxy for the pressure of the underlying magma reservoir, lava level can be a useful monitoring tool for eruption forecasting (Orr and others, 2015; Patrick and others, 2015). This data release provides a record of lava lake level at Kīlauea’s summit that encompasses numerous flank eruptive events and several intrusions (Orr and others, 2015; Patrick and others, 2019c), as well as hundreds of deflation-inflation cycles in the summit reservoir (Anderson and others, 2015). The lake level changes reflect not only local changes in the summit reservoir, but also influence from the Puʻuʻōʻō eruption on Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone (ERZ) that was concurrent with the summit eruption. These interactions between the summit and ERZ magmatic systems provide a series of complex controls on lake level and a rich dataset for new insight (Patrick and others, 2019a,b).

As only a handful of lava lakes exist on Earth, just a few long-term datasets of lava lake level exist. These are reviewed in Patrick and others (2019a) and include 1) the early 1900s era of lake activity in Halemaʻumaʻu, 2) several years of lake activity during the Mauna Ulu eruption on the ERZ (Tilling and others, 1987), 3) lake level during the 1990s (Denlinger and others, 1997) and 2009-2018 for the Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption (Orr and others, 2015; Patrick and others, 2019c), and 4) a record from 1953 to 2011 for Nyiragongo’s lava lake, which includes two major, destructive flank eruptions (Burgi and others, 2014). The dataset included in the current data release provides a record of lava lake level that is unique for its combination of long duration and high measurement rate.

The data compiled here have been presented previously, in parts, in the following publications: Anderson and others (2015, 2019), Orr and others (2015), and Patrick and others (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019a,b,c, 2020, 2021). These studies have addressed some of the main processes driving lava lake fluctuations, but many other aspects of the lake level behavior are not fully understood and deserve further study.

A small portion of the measurements were collected by the following colleagues: Steve Anderson, Adam Lewinter, David Finnegan, Gerald Bawden, Lil Desmither, Lopaka Lee, and Carolyn Parcheta.

Anderson SW, LeWinter AL, Finnegan DC, Patrick MR, Orr TR. 2014. Repeat terrestrial LiDAR scanning at Kīlauea Volcano reveals basaltic lava lake surface slope, structure and micro-pistoning. Abstract V43A-4851 at AGU fall meeting, December 2014.
Anderson, K. R., M. P. Poland, J. H. Johnson, and A. Miklius (2015), Episodic deflation-inflation events at Kīlauea Volcano and implications for the shallow magma system, Chapter 11 in Hawaiian Volcanism: From Source to Surface, edited by R. Carey, M. Poland, V. Cayol and D. Weis, AGU Geophysical Monograph Series vol. 208, pp. 229-250, doi:10.1002/9781118872079.ch11
Anderson KR, Johanson IA, Patrick MR, Gu M, Segall P, Poland MP, Montgomery-Brown EK, Miklius A. 2019. Magma reservoir failure and the onset of caldera collapse at Kīlauea Volcano in 2018. Science, doi:10.1126/science.aaz1822
Bawden GW, Patrick MR, Orr TR, Howle J, Bond S, Thelen WA, Kauahikaua JP, Angeli K, Pelkie A, Molnia BF. 2013. 4D micro-piston motion of Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake surface measured with ground-based tripod LiDAR, Kīlauea, Hawaii. Abstract V53F-07, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Dec. 2013.
Burgi P-Y, Darrah TH, Tedesco D, Eymold WK (2014) Dynamics of the Mount Nyiragongo lava lake. Journal of Geophysical Research Solid Earth 119: 4106-4122. doi:10.1002/2013JB010895
Denlinger RP (1997) A dynamic balance between magma supply and eruption rate at Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i. Journal of Geophysical Research 102:18091-18100
LeWinter, A.L., Anderson, S.W., Finnegan, D.C., Patrick, M.R., and Orr, T.R., 2021, Crater growth and lava-lake dynamics revealed through multitemporal terrestrial lidar scanning at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi, chap. C of Patrick, M., Orr, T., Swanson, D., and Houghton, B., eds., The 2008–2018 summit lava lake at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1867, 26 p.,
Neal CA, Brantley SR, Antolik L, Babb J, Burgess M, Calles K, Cappos M, Chang, J.C., Conway, S., Desmither, L., Dotray, P., Elias, T., Fukunaga, P., Fuke, S., Johanson, I.A., Kamibayashi, K., Kauahikaua, J., Lee, R.L., Pekalib, S., Miklius, A., Million, W., Moniz, C.J., Nadeau, P.A., Okubo, P., Parcheta, C., Patrick, M.R., Shiro, B,, Swanson, D.A., Tollett, W., Trusdell, F., Younger, E.F., Zoeller, M.H., Montgomery-Brown, E.K., Anderson, K.R., Poland, M.P., Ball, J., Bard, J., Coombs, M., Dietterich, H.R., Kern, C., Thelen, W.A., Cervelli, P.F., Orr, T., Houghton, B.F., Gansecki, C., Hazlett, R., Lundgren, P., Diefenbach, A.K., Lerner, A.H., Waite, G., Kelly, P., Clor, L., Werner, C., Mulliken, K., Fisher, G. 2018. The 2018 rift eruption and summit collapse of Kīlauea Volcano. Science, eaav7046.
Orr T, Poland MP, Patrick MR, Thelen WA, Sutton AJ, Elias T, Thornber CR, Parcheta C, Wooten KM. 2015. Kīlauea’s 5-9 March 2011 Kamoamoa fissure eruption and its relation to 30+ years of activity from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō. In: Carey R, Poland M, Cayol V, Weis D, (eds) Hawaiian Volcanism: From Source to Surface: Hoboken, New Jersey, Wiley, American Geophysical Union Geophysical Monograph 208, p. 393-420.
Patrick M., Orr T., Antolik L, Lee L., Kamibayashi K. 2014. Continuous monitoring of Hawaiian volcanoes with thermal cameras. Journal of Applied Volcanology, 3:1.
Patrick M.R., Anderson K.R., Poland M.P., Orr T., Swanson D.A. 2015. Lava lake level as a gauge of magma reservoir pressure and eruptive hazard. Geology, 43:831-834.…
Patrick M.R., Orr T., Sutton A.J., Lev E., Thelen W., Fee D. 2016. Shallowly driven fluctuations in lava lake outgassing (gas pistoning), Kīlauea Volcano. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 433:326-338.
Patrick MR, Orr TR, Swanson DA, Elias T, Shiro B. 2018. Lava lake activity at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano in 2016: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2018–5008, 58 p.,
Patrick MR, Swanson DA, Orr T. 2019a. A review of controls on lava lake level: insights from Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, Kīlauea Volcano. Bulletin of Volcanology 81:13.
Patrick MR, Younger EF, and Tollett W. 2019b. Lava level and crater geometry data during the 2018 lava lake draining at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii: U.S. Geological Survey data release,
Patrick MR, Orr T, Anderson K, Swanson DA. 2019c. Eruptions in sync: improved constraints on Kīlauea Volcano’s hydraulic connection: Earth and Planetary Science Letters 507:60-61.
Patrick MR, Houghton BF, Anderson KR, Poland MP, Montgomery-Brown E, Johanson I, Thelen W, Elias T. 2020. The cascading origin of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption and implications for future forecasting. Nature Communications 11, 5646.
Patrick M, Orr T, Swanson D, Houghton B, Wooten K, Desmither L, Parcheta C, Fee D. 2021. Kīlauea’s 2008–2018 summit lava lake—Chronology and eruption insights, chap. A of Patrick M, Orr T, Swanson D, and Houghton B, eds., The 2008–2018 summit lava lake at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1867, 50 p.,
Tilling RI (1987) Fluctuations in surface height of active lava lakes during the 1972-1974 Mauna Ulu eruption, Kīlauea volcano, Hawaii. Journal of Geophysical Research 92:13721-13730
Wilson, D., T. Elias, T. Orr, M. Patrick, J. Sutton, D. Swanson. 2008. Small explosion from new vent at Kīlauea’s summit, EOS, 89, 203.

Publication Year 2023
Title Elevation of the lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu crater, Kīlauea Volcano, from 2009 to 2018
DOI 10.5066/P9ULRPMM
Authors Matthew Patrick, Donald Swanson, Tim Orr, Frank Younger, W Tollett
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center