Lava flow from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii •

Last update: December 8th, 2019 at 7:00 am


The most active volcano in the Hawaiian island chain the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō eruption of Kilauea, has been going on almost continuously for more than three decades. The lava flows location and intensity have varied over the years. An episode can fluctuate too, sometimes making a glowing appearance at the surface and other times staying hidden from view in subsurface lava tubes.

Sometimes when the lava enters the ocean, the event makes a spectacular show of island-building. The last time flow from Kilauea poured into the Pacific was 2013.

The most recent episode stems from the “61g” flow, which started during an eruption in May 2016, progressed down the flank of the mountain, and has been flowing into the sea since late July. 

The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite acquired this natural-color image of the event on November 13, 2016.

The gray areas in the picture show nearly the whole flow field, including lava that has accumulated since 1983. The active flow in this image starts at a vent just east of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater. Ground-based research suggests that it moves southeast and southward through lava tubes below the surface. The active flow might be hidden from view in this image, but breakouts have sporadically appeared at the surface in the past few months. The signature of a recent surface breakout is the lighter gray area at the base of the pali (cliff). A false-color image from the same day shows that this area is still warmer than usual; so too are the crater and the land where lava enters the sea.

Credit: NASA

Fresh News coming
your way, Weekly

The biggest news about our planet
delivered to you each day