Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Thermal camera images of lava lake and crater filling activity at Puʻuʻōʻō, East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano, Island of Hawaiʻi, 2011-2019

March 6, 2024

The 35-year-long Puʻuʻōʻō eruption, on the East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano, was the longest volcanic eruption on the Island of Hawaiʻi in the past 100 years (Wright and Klein 2014; Mulliken and others 2023). The eruption, whose vent area was focused at and around Puʻuʻōʻō cone, produced episodic fountaining in its initial few years followed by decades of effusive activity that created an expansive lava flow field (Heliker and Mattox 2003; Orr and others 2015). While vents erupted on the flank of the cone, the activity within the cone’s crater often consisted of lava lakes, lava flows, and small spattering hornitos (Heliker and Mattox 2003; Heliker and others 2003). The crater also experienced several cycles of gradual crater filling culminating in abrupt crater draining, via vents on the cone flanks (Orr and others 2015; Patrick and others 2019).  Activity within Puʻuʻōʻō abruptly ended on April 30, 2018, when magma migrated into the lower East Rift Zone, triggering the destructive eruption in Leilani Estates and nearby regions (Neal and others 2019; Patrick and others 2020).  

To capture and document this dynamic behavior within the crater, a thermal camera was deployed on the rim of Puʻuʻōʻō crater in March 2011 by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Patrick and others 2014; Shiro and others 2021). This data release contains the entirety of data collected by that camera, named the “PTcam”, spanning 2011-2019. The camera captured several cycles of crater filling and draining, as well as prolonged periods of lava lake behavior, and many of these changes were correlated with those of the concurrent eruption at the summit of Kīlauea (Patrick and others 2021). This data release should provide useful information to better understand these basaltic eruption processes.  


Heliker C, Mattox TN. 2003. The first two decades of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō–Kupaianaha eruption: Chronology and selected bibliography. In: Heliker C, Swanson DA, Takahashi TJ (eds) The Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō–Kupaianaha eruption of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i: The first 20 years. US Geol Surv Prof Paper 1676:1-27
Heliker C, Kauahikaua J, Sherrod DR, Lisowski M, Cervelli P. 2003. The Rise and Fall of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Cone, 1983–2002. In: Heliker C, Swanson DA, Takahashi TJ (eds) The Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō–Kupaianaha eruption of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i: The first 20 years. US Geol Surv Prof Paper 1676:29-52
Mulliken KM, Kauahikaua JP, Swanson DA. 2023. Chronology of recent volcanic activity on the Island of Hawai`i, Hawaii (version 1, July 2023). U.S. Geological Survey data release,
Neal CA, Brantley SR, Antolik L, Babb J, Burgess M, Calles K, Cappos M, Chang JC, Conway S, Desmither L, Dotray P, Elias T, Fukunaga P, Fuke S, Johanson IA, Kamibayashi K, Kauahikaua J, Lee RL, Pekalib S, Miklius A, Million W, Moniz CJ, Nadeau PA, Okubo P, Parcheta C, Patrick MR, Shiro B, Swanson DA, Tollett W, Trusdell F, Younger EF, Zoeller MH, Montgomery-Brown EK, Anderson KR, Poland MP, Ball J, Bard J, Coombs M, Dietterich HR, Kern C, Thelen WA, Cervelli PF, Orr T, Houghton BF, Gansecki C, Hazlett R, Lundgren P, Diefenbach AK, Lerner AH, Waite G, Kelly P, Clor L, Werner C, Mulliken K, Fisher G. 2019. The 2018 rift eruption and summit collapse of Kilauea Volcano: Science:eaav7046. 1315
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 MR, 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., Orr, T., Anderson, K., Swanson, D.A., 2019, Eruptions in sync: improved constraints on Kīlauea Volcano’s hydraulic connection: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 507, p. 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. US Geol Surv Prof Paper 1867, 50 p.,
Shiro BR, Zoeller MH, Kamibayashi K, Johanson IA, Parcheta C, Patrick MR, Nadeau P, Lee L, Miklius A. 2021. Monitoring network changes during the 2018 Kilauea Volcano eruption. Seismological Research Letters 92:102-118.
Wright TL, Klein FW. 2014. Two hundred years of magma transport and storage at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi, 1790-2008.  U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1806, 240 p.

Publication Year 2024
Title Thermal camera images of lava lake and crater filling activity at Puʻuʻōʻō, East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano, Island of Hawaiʻi, 2011-2019
DOI 10.5066/P9CYSYQJ
Authors Matthew R Patrick, Tim Orr, William D. Tollett, Kevan P Kamibayashi
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization USGS Volcano Science Center