Hawaiian Volcano Observatory


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Color graphic showing aerial imagery and geologic map
December 31, 2020

Comparing Kīlauea's summit before and after the 2018 collapse

This series of maps compares aerial imagery collected prior to Kīlauea's 2018 summit collapse and the "Geologic Map of the Summit Region of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii" (Dutton and others, 2007; Neal and others, 2003)—created before Kīlauea's 2018 summit collapse—with aerial imagery collected after the 2018 summit collapse and a preliminary update to Kīlauea's summit geologic

Color map of Kīlauea lower East Rift Zone
December 31, 2020

A map of the lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano

A map of the lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano showing the fissures and flow fields from the 1955 (blue) and 2018 (pink) eruptions. Portions of the 1955 lava flows that were covered during the 2018 eruption, are represented with a blue outline.

Color graphic showing May 2020 earthquakes in Hawaii
May 13, 2020

May 2020 earthquake swarm at Lōʻihi seamount

May 2020 earthquake swarm at Lōʻihi seamount

A scientists observes a volcano crater
April 6, 2020

A geologists makes observations at Kilauea

Clear weather allowed HVO geologists to make observations and take measurements of the water pond at Kīlauea's summit. No major changes were observed, and the water level continues to slowly rise. Note the former HVO observation tower can be seen above the geologist's helmet. 

Color photograph of soil and ash
March 26, 2020

This section of brown Icelandic soil and ash

This section of brown Icelandic soil (top) contains 800 years of ash deposits erupted from five different volcanoes. The black layers, 5-10 cm (2-4 in) thick, are from Katla Volcano. A white arrow points to a closeup of the 1755 Katla ash deposit (lower left). The ash looks like specks of dust in the sample bag (lower right), but microprobe imaging reveals how complex

Black and white SEM image of ash
March 26, 2020

Scanning electron microprobe images of Icelandic ash

Scanning electron microprobe images show the complexity of tiny Icelandic ash grains (150 micron, or 0.006 inch). Image (a) shows a dense and blocky grain, and (b) shows a foamy grain.

Black and white photograph of bomb on lava flow
March 4, 2020

Aerial view of a bomb detonating on Mauna Loa lava flows

Aerial view of a bomb detonating on Mauna Loa near the source of the 1935 Humu‘ula lava flow on the morning of December 27, 1935. This was one of 20 demolition bombs dropped on the lava flow that morning by the Army Bombing Squadron from Luke Field, O‘ahu.

Black and white photograph of plane with bombs
March 4, 2020

U.S. Army Air Corps biplane prepares to drop bombs on 1935 lava flow

A U.S. Army Air Corps biplane is prepared for a mission to drop bombs on a lava flow advancing toward Hilo during the Mauna Loa 1935 eruption. Below the plane is one of 20 demolition bombs (center) dropped in an attempt to disrupt and redirect the Humu‘ula lava flow, and two of the 20 "pointer bombs" (left and right) that were used for aiming purposes. 

Color photograph showing ash outcrop and two scientists
February 6, 2020

Scientists examine an outcrop of ash in Hilo

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists examine an outcrop of reddish-brown Hilo ash during a recent study to investigate the origins of volcanic ash deposits on the Island of Hawai‘i. Age dates of lava flows above and below the Hilo ash deposit indicate that the ash was erupted between 3,000 and 14,000 years ago. 

Scientist holds rope leading to Unoccupied Aircraft System
January 31, 2020

Unoccupied Aircraft System with water sampler

The sampling mechanism (on blue tarp) is prepared and the Unoccupied Aircraft System (UAS) is inspected just before take off to collect water from the Halema‘uma‘u crater lake. Brightly colored flagging tape tied to a cable attached to the UAS indicated depth as the sampling tool was lowered into the water. 

Color photograph of seismologist in field
January 30, 2020

Geophysicist Brian Shiro, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Geophysicist Brian Shiro, manager of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory's seismic network, was part of HVO's team that installed several new stations on Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone to monitor earthquakes during the 2018 eruption. The station they installed here, ERZ1, was eventually overrun by lava, but it provided important data while it lasted. 

January 29, 2020

What will you do when Earth’s largest active volcano erupts?

In 2019, the Volcano Alert Level for Mauna Loa was elevated from “NORMAL” to “ADVISORY” due to increased seismicity and deformation at the volcano. This alert level does not mean an eruption is imminent, but it is a fact that Mauna Loa, which has erupted 33 times since 1843 (most recently in 1984), will erupt again. What will you do when it does? USGS Hawaiian Volcano