2019-2020 Summit Water

Ponded water first appeared at the bottom of Halema‘uma‘u crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano in late July 2019. The pond slowly deepend until December 20, 2020 when an eruption from the crater wall sent lava pouring into the lake, which caused it to boil off.

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Kīlauea summit KW webcam has captured the recent changes to the summit. The first image, taken on December 20, 2020, just before 6 p.m. HST shows the water lake that was present until Sunday evening. At 9:30 p.m. on December 20, an eruption began in the walls of Halemaʻumaʻu crater, vaporizing the lake. The second image, taken December 24, 2020, just after 6:30 a.m. HST shows that the water lake has been replaced by a lava lake; fissures in the wall of Halemaʻumaʻu feed a lava lake that continues to fill the crater. You can view live KW webcam images here. USGS photo. 

Thermal webcams record heat rather than light and get better views through volcanic gas. At times, clouds and rain obscure visibility. (Operated by: USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory) View webcam

For more information about the water lake that existed at the summit of Kīlauea, follow the USGS Volcanoes Facebook and Twitter feeds:

Status of Current Kīlauea Activity

"Volcano Watch" articles about Kīlauea Summit Water

image related to volcanoes. See description

ANIMATED GIF: Saturday, July 25, marked the one year anniversary since water was first spotted at the bottom of Halema'uma'u, at the summit of Kīlauea. Over the past year, the summit water lake grew to more than 270 m (885 ft) long and 131 m (430 ft) wide, with a surface area over 2.5 hectares (6 acres). The lake was over 40 m (130 ft) deep with a volume of approximately 480,000 cubic meters (125 million gallons)—equivalent to almost 200 olympic swimming pools. This animated image file (GIF) includes a series of telephoto images in a continuous loop showing the growth of the lake between August 2, 2019 and July 21, 2020, using approximately one image every 2 weeks. The apparent movement of the surrounding ground surface is not real—the shift is caused by slightly different camera angles on different days. USGS GIF by L. DeSmither.

(Public domain.)

Water formed a tiny pond at the bottom of Halema‘uma‘u Crater, at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano, in late July 2019

HVO scientists measured the Kīlauea summit water level almost daily using a small laser rangefinder. The pond slowly deepened until it was vaporized during the onset of an eruption in the crater on December 20, 2020.


Other USGS Kīlauea Summit Water Resources


    Color photograph showing summit of Kīlauea Volcano

    After days of rain, a window of clear weather allowed HVO geologists to make observations and take measurements of the water pond at Kīlauea's summit on January 17, 2020. No major changes were observed, and the water level continues to slowly rise. (Credit: Matt Patrick, HVO. Public domain.)

    Notable Media Coverage of Kīlauea Summit Water

    • Article published in September 2020: "From Lava to Water: A New Era at Kīlauea"—read it in Eos, the American Geophysical Union's science news publication
    • On December 3, 2019, HVO research geologist Matt Patrick updated the Hawai‘i County Council on the Halema‘uma‘u crater lake at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. The presentation, which was requested by the council, also summarized the implications of the crater lake for hazards. See the full presentation on Big Island Video News.
    • On August 21, 2019, HVO geophysicist Jim Kauahikaua discussed the water pond in Halema‘uma‘u and what it means in a 19-minute "Island Conversations" interview aired on Hawai‘i radio stations. Listen to the full interview at B93/B97 or Big Island Video News, which includes a transcription.