Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Volcano Watch

Volcano Watch is a weekly article and activity update written by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists and colleagues.

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Date published: July 29, 2021

Volcano Watch — Under the radar: Using weather stations to study Kīlauea’s December 20, 2020, plume

This week marks the second anniversary of the appearance of water in Kīlauea’s Halema‘uma‘u crater, so it seems timely to discuss the water lake’s demise last December 20, or rather, its transformation into a volcanic plume and how we use weather radar to investigate how that happened.

Date published: July 22, 2021

Volcano Watch — Stressed out: Hawaiian volcanoes are heavy

Many people living in the Hawaiian Islands are accustomed to feeling occasional earthquakes since the State of Hawaii is one of the most seismically active locations in the United States. Unlike some other earthquake-prone places in the U.S., for example California, where the earthquakes are related to tectonic plates sliding past each other, our earthquakes are related to volcanoes.  

Date published: July 15, 2021

Volcano Watch — Learning from the 1984 eruption of Mauna Loa

The most recent page in Mauna Loa’s eruptive history was written in 1984. The eruption began in March of 1984, about a decade after the 1975 summit eruption (the topic of last week’s “Volcano Watch” article). Here’s a quick look at how the eruption proceeded and its impacts on residents ...

Date published: July 8, 2021

Volcano Watch — Remembering Mauna Loa’s eruption on July 5–6, 1975

Mauna Loa erupted forty-six years ago this week, on July 5–6, 1975, in a 20-hour event with vents confined to the summit region (the area above 3,660 m/12,000 ft) and lava flows descending to just below 3,170 m (10,400 ft). This was the first eruption in 25 years, at the time the longest quiet stretch since 1843 (we are currently in the longest stretch at 37 years and counting). 

Date published: July 1, 2021

Volcano Watch — Volcanoes in Canada, eh?

Happy Canada Day/Bonne Fête du Canada! While some past "Volcano Watch" articles have had a July 4th theme for the USA, this year we’re taking the opportunity to ensure readers know that our neighbors to the north have volcanoes, too—including potentially active ones. 

Date published: June 24, 2021

Volcano Watch — Seismic halfalogues: earthquakes are only part of the conversation

The journey from volcanic repose to a climactic eruption is like a mystery movie that keeps you at the edge of your seat. The story is filled with twists and turns that often lead to dead ends.  

Date published: June 17, 2021

Volcano Watch — New Instrument Measures Lava Lake with Laser 

The night sky over Kīlauea summit lit up with the glow of lava Sunday, December 20th, 2020. Deep in the caldera, the gathered lake water was boiled by surging lava. A reddened plume escaped the crater, as lava took its place within Halemaʻumaʻu. 

Date published: June 10, 2021

Volcano Watch — Campaign season is here! Another way HVO tracks changes on Hawaiian volcanoes

Geodetic surveys measure the change in shape of our volcanoes due to changes in magma supply and storage. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) has a long history of using many different types of instruments and technologies over the decades to detect these changes.   

Date published: June 3, 2021

Volcano Watch — What defines an eruption pause?

Kīlauea’s recent volcano alert-level change, from Watch to Advisory, has attracted some attention.  

Date published: May 27, 2021

Volcano Watch — Pau or Paused? What’s the difference?

The Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake celebrated its 5-month anniversary by doing what we all like to do on our special day, taking a break. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park suggested that Kīlauea's summit eruption was getting ready for a “luana iki” or little rest, a more poetic way of describing a pause in eruptive activity.   

Date published: May 20, 2021

Volcano Watch — New research sheds light on recent Pāhala earthquake swarms

Many people in Kaʻū have noticed the swarm of earthquakes taking place during the past few years. These earthquakes are happening in a zone that is 29-40 km (18-25 miles) beneath Pāhala and extends south about 10 km (6 miles) offshore. Some of the largest earthquakes from this region have been felt throughout the Island of Hawai‘i. 

Date published: May 13, 2021

Volcano Watch — How are lava levels and volumes measured at the Kīlauea summit lava lake?

Kīlauea’s summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu is approaching its five-month anniversary on Thursday, May 20, while the water lake that occupied the crater for the previous seventeen months seems like a distant memory.