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Video: Birdseye View of Kīlauea Eruption Captured

December 24, 2020, 2:07 PM HST
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The sky was hazed with vog as a Blue Hawaiian Helicopters tour ventured out toward Kīlauea early Wednesday morning from Waikoloa.

Flights have begun to increase with news of lava erupting in the Halema‘uma‘u Crater at Kīlauea volcano. Pilot Shane Beeder said the sight is pretty impressive.

“If you have a chance, come see it,” Beeder advised. “Never wait.”

Big Island Now tagged along with Beeder, who took a group out Wednesday. The pilot circled the Halema‘uma‘u Crater from more than 9,000 feet above sea level. From the air, a waterfall of lava could clearly be seen pouring into the caldera.

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Kīlauea stopped erupting for two and a half years after having a constant flow from 1983 to 2018. A lava lake was visible from the Halema‘uma‘u Crater at that time. However, in 2018, the lake drained and several new fissures opened up in Puna neighborhoods, destroying homes, roads and property.

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The 2020 eruption began on Sunday at approximately 9:30 p.m. This new flow has broken through the wall of Halema‘uma‘u Crater in at least two places and is pouring in lava.

USGS Volcanoes has been active on social media to provide updates and answer questions regarding the new activity. As of 7:49 p.m. on Wednesday, USGS Volcanoes tweeted that two fissures continue to erupt lava into a growing lava lake in the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

“Activity at the western vent is intermittent. Gas emissions and seismic tremors remain elevated, with minor deflationary deformation,” USGS tweeted.

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On Wednesday, a geologist measured changes in lava lake levels from the rim of the crater. At that time, the lake was measured at 470 feet in depth. The lake’s surface area at that time was more than 54 acres.

USGS Volcanoes tweeted the lava could remain in the crater. However, if it overflows the caldera it could create new flows.

Officials tweeted it’s unlikely lava would fill the whole crater. It depends on the size of the magma intrusion feeding the eruption.

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