Kīlauea - Volcano Updates

Alert Level: WATCH, Color Code: ORANGE 2021-01-23 17:56:44

U.S. Geological Survey
Saturday, January 23, 2021, 7:56 AM HST (Saturday, January 23, 2021, 17:56 UTC)

19°25'16" N 155°17'13" W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

Activity Summary: Kīlauea Volcano is erupting. Lava activity is confined to Halemaʻumaʻu with lava erupting from a vent on the northwest side of the crater. This morning, January 23, the lava lake was about 205 m (673 ft) deep and only the western half is active. SO2 emission rates remain elevated.

Summit Observations: The most recent sulfur dioxide emission rate measurements from January 16, are about 2,500 t/d—lower than the emission rates from the pre-2018 lava lake (3,000–6,500 t/d). The summit tiltmeters are on an inflationary trend. Seismicity remains elevated but stable, with steady elevated tremor and a few minor earthquakes.

East Rift Zone Observations: Geodetic monitors indicate that the upper portion of the East Rift Zone (between the summit and Puʻu ʻŌʻō) contracted while the summit deflated at the onset of this eruption. There is no seismic or deformation data to indicate that additional magma is currently moving into either of Kīlauea’s rift zones. SO2 and H2S emissions from Puʻu ʻŌʻō were below instrumental detection levels when measured on January 7.

Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake Observations: Low fountaining from the west vent supplies a channel of lava which is pouring into the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u crater. At the moment effusion rates correlate, positively, with RSAM activity; higher RSAM values, greater lava effusion.

The active western half of the lava lake was about 205 m (673 ft) deep this morning (Jan. 22) while the stagnant eastern half of the lake remains several meters (yards) lower. The whole lava lake—including the stagnant eastern half—is perched/elevated above the crust between the perched lake and the crater wall. The east side is elevated ~1 m, and the west 4 m, above the solidified lava crust adjacent to the crater wall.

All the islands have been stationary over the past week, frozen in the eastern stagnant portion of the lava lake. The dimensions of the main island remained unchanged with its edges several meters (yards) above the lake surface. On January 22, the south end of the island was measured at 12 m (39 ft) above the lava lake surface, with the highest point at 23 m (75 ft) above the surface.

Near-real time webcam views of the lava lake can be found here: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/webcams.

Hazard Analysis: High levels of volcanic gas, rockfalls, explosions, and volcanic glass particles are the primary hazards of concern regarding this new activity at Kīlauea’s summit. Large amounts of volcanic gas—primarily water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)—are continuously released during eruptions of Kīlauea Volcano. As SO2 is released from the summit during this new eruption, it will react in the atmosphere with oxygen, sunlight, moisture, and other gases and particles, and within hours to days, convert to fine particles. The particles scatter sunlight and cause the visible haze that has been observed downwind of Kīlauea, known as vog (volcanic smog), during previous summit eruptions. Vog creates the potential for airborne health hazards to residents and visitors, damages agricultural crops and other plants, and affects livestock operations. Rockfalls and minor explosions, such as the ones that occurred during the 2008–2018 lava lake eruption at Kīlauea summit, may occur suddenly and without warning. This underscores the extremely hazardous nature of Kīlauea caldera rim surrounding Halemaʻumaʻu crater, an area that has been closed to the public since late 2007. Pele's hair and other lightweight volcanic glass fragments from the lava fountains within Halemaʻumaʻu will fall downwind of the fissure vents and lava lake, dusting the ground within a few hundred meters (yards) of the vent. High winds may waft lighter particles to greater distances. Residents are urged to minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation similar to volcanic ash.

Vog information can be found at https://vog.ivhhn.org/.

Please see this Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Press Release “How to Safely View the New Eruption in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park” at https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn/news/20201221_nr_new-summit-eruption-kilauea.htm.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) continues to closely monitor Kīlauea’s seismicity, deformation, and gas emissions for any sign of reactivation, and maintains visual surveillance of the summit and the East Rift Zone. HVO will continue to issue daily updates and additional messages as needed.


Kilauea Activity summary also available by phone: (808) 967-8862

Other Hawaiian volcanoes summary also available by phone: (808) 967-8877

Subscribe to these messages: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vns2/

Kilauea Webcam images: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/webcams

Kilauea Photos/video: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/photo-video-chronology

Kilauea Lava flow maps: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/maps

Haleakala Summary: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/haleakala

Hualalai Summary: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/hualalai

Loihi Summary: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/loihi-seamount

Mauna Kea Summary: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mauna-kea

Definitions of terms used in update: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/extra/definitions.pdf

Summary of volcanic hazards from Kīlauea eruptions: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/extra/hazards.pdf

Recent earthquakes in Hawaiʻi (map and list): https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hawaiian-volcano-observatory/earthquakes

Explanation of Volcano Alert Levels and Aviation Color Codes: https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/volcano-hazards/about-alert-levels



The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is one of five volcano observatories within the U.S. Geological Survey and is responsible for monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawaiʻi.