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Recent Eruption

Kīlauea volcano began erupting on September 29, 2021, at approximately 3:21 p.m. HST in Halema‘uma‘u crater. Lava continues to erupt from a single vent in the western wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. All lava activity is confined within Halemaʻumaʻu crater in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Seismicity and volcanic gas emission rates remain elevated.

Color photograph of volcanic vent and bird
A Koa‘e Kea (white-tailed tropicbird) flies above the erupting west vent within Halema‘uma‘u crater, at the summit of Kīlauea. Photo taken from the south rim of Halema‘uma‘u at 10:41 a.m. HST on Oct. 8, 2021. USGS photo by J.M. Chang. 

This is an exciting time on Kīlauea Volcano because lava has returned to the summit following the 2018 summit collapse. After the December 2020-May 2021 Halemaʻumaʻu eruption ended, Kīlauea summit region continued to slowly inflate. In August 2021, increased earthquake activity and patterns of ground deformation indicated that an intrusion was occurring and magma was moving into an area south of Kīlauea caldera. However, no eruption occurred, and the shallow Halemaʻumaʻu magma reservoir continued to measure inflation. On September 29, 2021, earthquake activity increased abruptly beneath Halemaʻumaʻu around 2 p.m. HST, and at 3:21 p.m. a series of vents opened in the floor and walls of Halemaʻumaʻu crater, generating a lava lake. This activity is ongoing, and Kīlauea daily updates are posted here

 

Preliminary Eruption Chronology

  • September 29, 2021, 3:21 p.m. HST - eruption begins as a series of fissure vents to the east of the large island that formed in the December 2020-May 2021 lava lake.
  • September 29, 2021, 4:43 p.m. HST - another vent opens in the west wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater
  • October 4, 2021 - activity becomes focused at two vents: one in the western wall of Halemaʻumaʻu and one in the south central portion of the lava lake
  • October 6, 2021 - eastern portion of lava lake begins to stagnate and form a crust
  • October 7, 2021 - activity becomes focused at single vent on the western wall of Halemaʻumaʻu
The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory KWcam at Kīlauea's summit has captured changes within Halemaʻumaʻu crater, at Kīlauea's summit, due to the eruption that began on September 29, 2021. At approximately 3:21 pm, HST, new fissures opened at the base of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. These fissures opened east of the large island near the center of the lava lake that was active within Halemaʻumaʻu crater from December 2020 until May 2021. The first image was taken on September 29, 2021, just before the eruption began; the second image was taken the morning of October 4, 2021, just before 6 a.m. HST and shows the continuing eruption and growing lava lake. Near-real-time images captured by the KWcam are available here: /volcanoes/kilauea/kwcam-live-panorama-halema-uma-u-.... USGS webcam images. 

Monitoring Lava Lake Depth

A continuous laser rangefinder was installed on the western rim of Halemaʻumaʻu crater within a closed area of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, under a National Park Service permit, on January 8, 2021. This instrument autonomously measures lava lake elevation in real time, using the light-reflecting properties of the lava surface.   

Remote image Url
Graph showing the depth of lava (in meters) in Halema‘uma‘u crater at Kīlauea volcano's summit, from September 2021 and on. On January 8, 2021, a novel laser rangefinder was stationed at Kīlauea volcano's summit. The fixed instrument continuously measures the distance to a location on the western lava lake surface, and telemeters data to HVO in real time. The raw data has been edited for this graph, with a running mean average filter of 3600 seconds. Variations in plotted depth can occur due to laser rangefinder returns on gas rather than the lava surface.For reference, the base of Halema‘uma‘u after the 2018 collapse event is “zero” on this plot (equal to an elevation of 518 meters/1699 ft above sea level). Post-eruption analyses indicate that the December 2020–May 2021 lava lake filled the base of Halema‘uma‘u to a depth of 223 meters/732 ft (equal to an elevation of approximately 741 meters/2431 ft above sea level). The ongoing eruption is adding to that lava depth. Lava will overflow Halema‘uma‘u, onto the lowest down-dropped block when the eastern portion reaches a depth of 267 meters/876 ft (equal to an elevation of 790 meters/2592 ft above sea level). Note that the eastern portion of the lake is lower than the western portion, where the active vent is located and where the laser rangefinder is pointed. See the Kīlauea daily updates for measurements of the differences in elevation of different portions of the lake. 

Monitoring Kīlauea Summit Gas Emissions

Remote image Url
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates measured using an upward-looking ultraviolet spectrometer. These data are collected by traversing the gas plume in a vehicle, downwind of Halema‘uma‘u, generally within and south of Kīlauea Caldera. Results from multiple traverses during a day are averaged to yield the emission rates shown here. Successful measurements depend on wind, weather, and staff availability. Values are preliminary and are subject to revision.

See additional Kīlauea monitoring data

 

Latest eruption maps

See additional maps on the Kīlauea Maps Page

Color map of a lava lake and the surrounding volcanic caldera
This reference map depicts the ongoing Kīlauea summit eruption on January 7, 2022. One eruptive vent is intermittently active within Halemaʻumaʻu, along the western edge of the lava lake. When this vent is effusing lava, it pours into the active portion of the lake, colored red on this map. During eruptive pauses, the only active lava is within a pond just north of the vent, colored dark purple on this map. The eruption statistics provided here are current as of the last HVO overflight on December 30, 2021; the volume-averaged surface of the whole lava lake was approximately 2,667 ft (813 m) above sea level at that time. Lava is presently visible from three public visitor overlooks in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park: Kīlauea Overlook can see the southeastern edge of the lava lake, Keanakākoʻi Overlook can see the eruptive vent and surrounding lava, and Kūpinaʻi Pali (Waldron Ledge) can barely see the top of the vent. Visit the park eruption page for more info: https://go.nps.gov/new-eruption.
Color image of lava lake temperature
This thermal image was taken during the September 30, 2021, morning overflight and looks west across Halema‘uma‘u crater, at the summit of Kīlauea. Several fountains are emerging through the active lake surface, in addition to fountaining on the west margin of the lake. The island remains near the center of the lake, and a small portion of the western cone, active during the previous eruption earlier this year, is still exposed. USGS image by M. Patrick.

 

Additional resources related to the eruption:

 

 

 

This eruption is taking place within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Please visit the Park website to learn more about their operations.  

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