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Geologic Investigations of the Kīlauea Summit Collapse

Scientific investigations of the current state of the summit of Kīlauea are needed to interpret monitoring network data and to characterize threats and hazards to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and surrounding area.

This series of images from June 13 through July 7, 2018, show dramatic down-dropping of part of Kīlauea Volcano's summit caldera floor. For weeks, the summit has subsided in both a continuous fashion, as well as in incremental, jolting drops. The withdrawal of magma from the summit reduces pressure in the shallow magma reservoir. When this reduction becomes too great, rock that forms the floor of Halema‘uma‘u and parts of the surrounding Kīlauea caldera floor slump into the shallow magma reservoir to generate a collapse/explosion event. These events occur about every 24-32 hours. This view, from the Keanakāko‘i Overlook, is toward the north, across the caldera floor.


Activities will include repeat gravity and other geophysical surveys (ground-based and airborne) of the volcano and geologic evaluation of new exposures in the expanded caldera walls. This work will improve our understanding of summit and rift zone structure and magmatic plumbing, as well as the history and likelihood of dangerous explosive eruptions from the summit region.















Additional Resources

WATCH Nature's Hawaii’s surprise volcanic eruption: Lessons from Kilauea 2018

Namiki, A., Patrick, M.R., Manga, M., and Houghton, B.F., 2021, Brittle fragmentation by rapid gas separation in a Hawaiian fountain: Nature Geoscience, v. 14, no. 4, p. 242-247.

Houghton, B.F., Cockshell, W.A., Gregg, C.E., Walker, B.H., Kim, K., Tisdale, C.M., and Yamashita, E., 2021, Land, lava, and disaster create a social dilemma after the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea volcano: Nature Communications, v. 12, no. 1, p. 1223. 

Mosbrucker, A.R., Zoeller, M.H., and Ramsey, D.W., 2020, Digital elevation model of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi, based on July 2019 airborne lidar surveys: U.S. Geological Survey data release,

Patrick, M.R., Swanson, D.A., Zoeller, M.H., Mulliken, K.M., Parcheta, C.E., Lynn, K.J., Downs, D.T., and Flinders, A.F., 2021, Water-level data for the crater lake at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano, Island of Hawaiʻi, 2019–2020: U.S. Geological Survey data release,



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