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2018 lower East Rift Zone Eruption and Summit Collapse

From Neal and others (2019): "Kīlauea Volcano experienced its largest lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) eruption and caldera collapse in at least 200 years...

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) team assessed conditions at the fissure 8 cone and upper lava channel on August 17, 2018. At the time of the flight, the lava pond within the cone had crusted over with no observed incandescence. The reddish-brown rock inside the cone is the result of oxidation; the interaction of heated rock and gases causes black basaltic cinders to change color, similar to rust forming on metal. (Public domain.)

After collapse of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent on 30 April, magma propagated downrift. Eruptive fissures opened in the LERZ on 3 May, eventually extending ~6.8 kilometers (4 miles). A 4 May earthquake [moment magnitude (Mw) 6.9] produced ~5 meters (16 feet) of fault slip. Lava erupted at rates exceeding 100 cubic meters (131 cubic yards) per second, eventually covering 35.5 square kilometers (14 square miles). The summit magma system partially drained, producing minor explosions and near-daily collapses releasing energy equivalent to Mw 4.7 to 5.4 earthquakes. Activity declined rapidly on 4 August. Summit collapse and lava flow volume estimates are roughly equivalent—about 0.8 cubic kilometers (0.2 cubic miles). Careful historical observation and monitoring of Kīlauea enabled successful forecasting of hazardous events."

Resources Relating to Kīlauea's 2018 Activity

Kīlauea 2018 Eruption Data

Color photograph showing the summit of Kīlauea Volcano.
USGS scientists captured this stunning aerial photo of Halemaumau and part of the Kīlauea caldera floor during a helicopter overflight of Kīlauea's summit on July 13, 2018. In the lower third of the image, you can see the buildings that housed the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park's Jaggar Museum, the museum parking area, and a section of the Park's Crater Rim Drive. Although recent summit explosions have produced little ash, the drab gray landscape is a result of multiple thin layers of ash that have blanketed the summit area during the ongoing explosions. (Public domain.)

Relevant Publications

Maps, Videos, and Photos

See the table summarizing Kīlauea activity over the past ~200 years here.