Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Eruption Creates 600-Foot-Deep Lava Lake

Dec 31, 2020
Originally published on December 31, 2020 3:05 pm

On Hawaii's Big Island, Kilauea volcano erupted Dec. 20 for the first time in more than two years.

Lava spewed from a fissure in the northwest wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater and cascaded into the deepest part of the crater, boiling away a water lake. There's now a growing lava lake, nearly 600 feet deep.

The U.S. Geological Survey has been documenting the eruption. Here, in photos and video, is how Kilauea's newest eruption is continuing — and changing the landscape.

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At 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 20 an eruption began in the walls of Halemaʻumaʻu crater, vaporizing the lake. This is what the lake looked like at 5:57 p.m. before the eruption.
Sunrise at the new eruption site in Kīlauea caldera on Dec. 21.
An aerial view of the Kilauea summit shows the eruption from a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory overflight at approximately 11:20 a.m. on Dec. 21. The two active fissure locations continue to feed lava into the growing lava lake.
As of about 8 a.m. on Dec. 23, crews note that the Kilauea summit lava lake depth is more than triple that of the water lake that existed in the crater until the evening of Dec. 20, when it was vaporized.
H. Dietterich / USGS
Fissures in the wall of Halemaʻumaʻu fed a lava lake that continued to fill the crater. After 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 24, the water lake had been replaced by a lava lake.
Several small channels continue to feed the lava lake within Halema'uma'u crater from the western fissure vents on Dec. 26.
Crews observe the continuing eruption in Halema'uma'u at Kilauea in the early morning of Dec. 28. Overnight, the western vent in the wall of Halema'uma'u continued to erupt.
D. Downs / USGS
Dec. 31, 2020: The west vent area in Halema'uma'u wall continues to feed Kīlauea's summit lava lake.
M. Patrick / USGS
Dec. 31, 2020: Kīlauea's summit eruption in Halema'uma'u continued overnight.
M. Patrick / USGS