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As the Lava Churns

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Detailed Description

On June 3, 2009, conditions provided a rare view of active lava churning within Kilauea Volcano's summit vent located in Halema'uma'u Crater. This video (actual speed) shows the surface of the circulating lava, which is about 100 meters (300 feet) below the crater floor, or 180 meters (590 feet) below the camera. As lava gushes across the opening, its surface is disrupted by waves, splashes, bursting gas bubbles, and spatters of molten rock. It is not known how long these conditions will continue. The lava surface could soon crust over or drop to a lower level— or it could keep going, as shown here, for days, weeks, or months.

For safety reasons, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park has closed access to the summit vent, which has erupted explosively numerous times since it opened in March 2008. However, the public can see spectacular views the vent— especially the orange glow it emits after dark— from an overlook at Jaggar Museum or via HVO Webcams (

Video was taken by Matt Patrick, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist, on June 3, 2009, around 7:00 p.m.




Public Domain.