VIDEO: Scientists monitoring lava flow cascading deep within Kilauea crater


Scientists on the Big Island are monitoring a fresh stream of lava plunging into a lava lake deep within Halemaumau crater on Kilauea volcano’s summit.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has released a video that shows the stream rushing into the lava lake, “disrupting the crust in a chaotic fashion,” according to an observatory report. The source of the stream, Halemaumau Overlook vent, is described by scientists as “a pit, or crater, in the floor of the larger Halemaumau Crater in the floor of the larger Kilauea caldera or crater — a crater within a crater within a crater.”

At the Halemaumau crater floor, the pit’s diameter is about 460 feet. Its depth is estimated at 660 feet. Since November 2009, a lava pond surface has been visible in a hole in the floor of the pit.

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In the aftermath of the rise of a perched lava lake, overflows from the lava lake in Pu Oo — on Kilauea’s east rift zone — have nearly leveled the crater floor with the perched lake, which last week stood 33 feet above the floor. Photo: USGS

Scientists are also tracking lava flow and the status of a perched lava lake in the Puu Oo crater on Kilauea volcano’s east rift zone.

Last week, an observatory report noted that the lava lake resembled an above-ground swimming pool, with its levee rising to a height of about 33 feet. At that time, Puu Oo’s floor was about 170 feet below its crater rim. Now, thanks to lava lake overflows, the floor has climbed to 128 feet below the rim, with the perch reportedly topping out at about 10 feet above the crater floor.

Lava drained from Puu Oo on March 5, when the crater’s floor deflated and collapsed during the Kamoamoa fissure eruption. The thermal camera, which began recording on March 18 — shortly after the Kamoamoa fissure eruption paused — depicts an abrupt return of lava to the crater floor on March 26. Since then, lava refilling has continued in “fits and starts,” contributing to the ongoing development of the lava lake, according to observatory reports.

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: When this video was recorded, the lava lake within Halemaumau crater’s vent cavity was 164 yards wide. Spattering can be seen in the upper-left corner of the frame. A steady lava stream is in the lower-right portion of the frame. (Click on frame to watch.)

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Categories: Hawai‘i Island