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Thermal maps of the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption of Kīlauea Volcano, Island of Hawaiʻi

January 17, 2024

The 2018 eruption of Kīlauea Volcano included both a large effusive eruption on the lower East Rift Zone and associated collapse and subsidence of the caldera floor at the summit (Anderson and others 2019; Neal and others 2019; Patrick and others 2020).  Lava erupted from 24 fissures on the lower East Rift Zone over four months, with high effusion rates (>100 m3 s-1) often supplying lava into channelized flows (Dietterich and others 2021).  This effusion produced an extensive lava flow field, covering 36 km2 and creating 3.5 km2 of new land along the coast (Zoeller and others 2020).  The eruption was notable for the sustained high effusion rates, which produced complex and prolonged evolution of the lava flow field, dominated by the large channelized flow from fissure 8 that extended 13 km from the vent to the ocean.  The eruption had a severe impact on the community, destroying over 700 structures in the lower Puna district (Meredith and others 2022). 

In this data release, we include thermal maps of the eruption that document the highly dynamic evolution of the lava flow field on the lower East Rift Zone during this 2018 eruption.  The thermal maps were constructed from oblique airborne imagery captured with a handheld thermal camera, using structure-from-motion software to construct thermal orthomosaics.  The maps were generally made every 1-3 days, thus providing a sequence to illustrate how the flow field changed through the course of the eruption.  These data are meant to better understand the behavior of large channelized lava flows, in order to improve forecasting their hazards in the future.   

The methodology described in this document closely mirrors that described in Patrick and others (2017) for mapping the slowly advancing pahoehoe lava flow that threatened the town of Pāhoa, Hawaiʻi, in 2014-2015.  In the conclusion of that paper, it was noted that the method might be useful for mapping the evolution of a channelized ʻaʻā flow.  This data release shows that the method was indeed highly effective for mapping large ʻaʻā flows during the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea.  

During the eruption we produced and published thermal maps on the HVO public website generally on the same day as the acquisition, in order to provide timely updates on the flow evolution.  Those maps were produced using moderate quality settings due to time constraints.  In this data release we have reprocessed the maps using higher quality settings.   

In version 1 of this data release, we include thermal maps from May 30 to August 15, which covers the evolution of the dominant flow, from fissure 8.  In a subsequent version we will include the maps from May 5 to May 28 which cover the highly dynamic initial phase of the eruption that included multiple fissures. 


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
Dietterich HR, Diefenbach AK, Soule SA, Zoeller M, Patrick M, Major JJ, Lundgren P. 2021. Lava effusion rate evolution and erupted volume during the 2018 Kīlauea lower East Rift Zone eruption. Bull Volcanol 83, 25.
Meredith ES, Jenkins SF, Hayes JL, Deligne NI, Lallamant D, Patrick M, Neal C. 2022. Damage assessment for the 2018 Lower East Rift Zone lava flows of Kīlauea volcano, Hawaiʻi. Bull Volcanol 84, 65.
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
Patrick MR, Orr T, Fisher G, Trusdell F, Kauahikaua J. 2017. Thermal mapping of a pahoehoe lava flow, Kilauea Volcano. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 332:71-87
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.
Zoeller MH, Perroy RL, Wessels RL, Fisher GB, Robinson JE, Bard JA, Peters J, Mosbrucker AR, Parcheta CE. 2020. Geospatial database of the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi. U.S. Geological Survey data release,

Publication Year 2024
Title Thermal maps of the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption of Kīlauea Volcano, Island of Hawaiʻi
DOI 10.5066/P9C8W3NT
Authors Matthew R Patrick
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization USGS Volcano Science Center