Lava lake spills onto Halema‘uma‘u Crater floor

  • A Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist uses a laser range-finder to measure the depth of the lava lake at Kilauea's summit. The lake overflowed onto the floor of Halema'uma'u, adding another layer of shiny black lava to the crater. Courtesy of HVO
  • Lava bubbles up in the lava lake on Saturday night at Kilauea’s summit. (BILLY KILMER/West Hawaii Today)
  • Kilauea's summit lava lake remains high Monday morning. Webcam image courtesy of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Kilauea’s summit lava lake covered nearly 40 acres of Halema‘uma‘u after rising over the top of Overlook crater.

The lake has been relatively high for the past week or more and first spilled over Saturday night.


Janet Babb, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory spokeswoman, said there were four separate events, or “pulses,” that spread a fresh layer of shiny black lava over the floor of madame Pele’s home through Monday morning.

The Halema‘uma‘u crater is about 133 acres in size. Overlook crater, where the lake resides, sits inside Halema‘uma‘u.

Babb said the largest overflow covered about the same area as overflows in April and May 2015.

By Monday afternoon, the lake began to recede after the summit entered a deflationary period.

It remains to be seen how long that trend will continue or if the lake will remain visible for the public from Jaggar Museum.

For the moment, the summit remains the focal point for lava viewing.

The “61g” lava flow remains active within the upper flow field of Pu‘u ‘O‘o. But that area is closed to the public and difficult to access.

Carolyn Parcheta, Kilauea operations geologist at HVO, said a new vent is still expected to open at Pu‘u ‘O‘o as it continues to uplift due to a buildup of magma underneath. The cone has been erupting almost continuously on Kilauea’s East Rift Zone since 1983.


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