Kīlauea summit eruption--Lava returns to Halema'uma'u

  • Babb J
  • Wessells S
  • Neal C
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In March 2008, a new volcanic vent opened within Halema'uma'u, a crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on the Island of Hawai'i. This new vent is one of two ongoing eruptions on the volcano. The other is on Kilauea's East Rift Zone, where vents have been erupting nearly nonstop since 1983. The duration of these simultaneous summit and rift zone eruptions on Kilauea is unmatched in at least 200 years. Since 2008, Kilauea's summit eruption has consisted of continuous degassing, occasional explosive events, and an active, circulating lava lake. Because of ongoing volcanic hazards associated with the summit vent, including the emission of high levels of sulfur dioxide gas and fragments of hot lava and rock explosively hurled onto the crater rim, the area around Halema'uma'u remains closed to the public as of 2017. Through historical photos of past Halema'uma'u eruptions and stunning 4K imagery of the current eruption, this 24-minute program tells the story of Kilauea Volcano's summit lava lake-now one of the two largest lava lakes in the world. It begins with a Hawaiian chant that expresses traditional observations of a bubbling lava lake and reflects the connections between science and culture that continue on Kilauea today. The video briefly recounts the eruptive history of Halema'uma'u and describes the formation and continued growth of the current summit vent and lava lake. It features USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists sharing their insights on the summit eruption-how they monitor the lava lake, how and why the lake level rises and falls, why explosive events occur, the connection between Kilauea's ongoing summit and East Rift Zone eruptions, and the impacts of the summit eruption on the Island of Hawai'i and beyond.

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Babb, J. L., Wessells, S. M., & Neal, C. A. (2017). Kīlauea summit eruption--Lava returns to Halema’uma’u. U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 182. Retrieved from https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/browse/Report/USGS Numbered Series/General Information Product/; contains movies

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