VIDEO: Aerial view of fast-moving lava flow in Kilauea volcano’s east rift zone


In the aftermath of last week’s collapse of Puu Oo crater floor in Kilauea volcano’s east rift zone, pahoehoe (smooth-flowing) lava is continuing to pour from vents at the crater site.
Scientists at the Big Island’s Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory have released a video from an aerial overflight, on Mon., Aug. 8, above the lower west flank of Puu Oo. The video includes footage of several vents topped by spatter cones feeding narrow, fast-moving flows that funnel into a broad area of ponded lava. (Check out video at the bottom of the page.)

One of the more vigorous vents (pictured, above) is topped by a 20-foot spatter cone. “The flow from this vent cascades down several steps, joining the flow from two other nearby vents, before flowing under a small bridge and into the broad area of ponded lava to the west, “according to an observatory report.

The view inside the Pu Oo crater is hidden by a thick fume, but thermal camera images depict a “very tiny flow” of lava on the crater floor, according to an observatory report.  

On Wed., Aug. 3,  shortly after the domed floor of Puu Oo crater collapsed, lava burst from the west flank of the Puu Oo cone, flooding downslope areas and forming a branched flow.

Puu Oo crater’s floor also collapsed on March 5, during the Kamoamoa fissure eruption. On March 26, shortly after the eruption paused, lava abruptly returned to the crater’s floor.

As scientists tracked the refilling, they noted the development of the perched lava lake, which has resembled an above-ground swimming pool. In early June, the lake’s levee climbed to a height of about 33 feet above the crater floor. At that time, the floor was about 170 feet below the crater rim. Subsequent lava lake overflows pushed the full crater floor closer to the rim

Daily updates on Kilauea volcano activity are available at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website. has reported regularly on lava activity at Kilauea volcano and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Click here to catch up with all of our Volcano News posts. You can also follow our updates on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

VIDEO: Aerial overflight, Mon., Aug. 8, above the lower west flank of Puu Oo crafter. Several vents topped by spatter cones feed narrow, fast-moving flows that funnel into a broad area of ponded lava. (Click on frame below to watch.)

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Categories: Hawai‘i Island