Lava Lake Depth Now Exceeds 600 Feet

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8:34 AM HST Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021: USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

The KW webcam captured this image of Kīlauea’s ongoing summit eruption, which continued overnight. The KW webcam looks in an east direction; north is to the left in the photo, south to the right, west to the bottom, and east to the top. This photo, taken at 6:30 a.m. HST on January 1, 2021, shows that the west vent (bottom of photo) remains active. USGS photo.

Activity Summary: Lava activity is confined to Halemaʻumaʻu with lava erupting from vents on the northwest side of the crater. Early this morning the lava lake was 620 feet deep with a narrow black ledge around it. The west vents spattered while erupting lava flowed through crusted-over channels into a lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu crater. SO2 emission rates were still elevated.

Sulfur dioxide emission rate measurements made Dec. 31, 2020, were about 6300 t/d and in the range 3,000-6,500 t/d since Dec. 27, 2020 — the same range of values that was common for the pre-2018 lava lake.


The most recent thermal map on Dec. 30, 2020, provided the lake dimensions as 875 by 580 yards for a total area of 82 acres. The narrow ledge around the lake was about 1-2 yards above the active lake surface.

Over the past day, the main island of cooler, solidified lava floating in the lava lake drifted to the west before settling in front of the west lava source filling the lake around midnight, while the other 10 or so small islands remained relatively stationary around the east end of the lake. The main island measured about 820 feet in length, 440 feet in width, and about 7 acres in area based on the Dec. 30, 2020, thermal map. Measurements Friday afternoon showed that the island surface was about 20 feet above the lake surface.


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