Image of the Week - Hawaii's Lava Flow

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Detailed Description

Lava continues to flow, changing the landscape, vegetation and coastline in Hawaii.

At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface.

USGS EROS Center (


Date Taken:

Length: 00:00:57

Location Taken: Kīlauea Volcano, HI, US


New fissures opened up on Hawaii’s
Big Island in early May, spouting

lava that destroyed homes.
Landsat has been recording the lava

flows since the eruption began in
1983. The most current image shown

is from India’s Resourcesat-2 satellite.
In these images, green vegetated land

is repeatedly covered with dark lava
flows, and infrared imaging shows

orange spots of heat.
Eruptions from this volcano have a

history of burying towns. The 1991
image shows a new lava flow that

buried an entire community in 15–25
meters of lava.

The image series also shows how the
coastline of the island has changed

as various lava flows reached the
ocean. Landsat and other satellites

continue to monitor the changing
landscape of the island.