The 2023 Kilauea eruption

KW camera view

After a runup of 4 months, or 10 hours, or 1.5 hours (depending on how you look at it), Kilauea sprung back to life, in its continuing quest to recreate the summit-wide lava lake of a century ago. There is still some way to go, but comparing this morning’s glowing lake to the Halemaumau lava pit of a decade ago shows how far it has already come. Over this decade the lava has grown from a pond 50 meters wide to a lake close to 1 kilometer across. It has been an eventful period.

The pit probably formed when lava traveling underneath the summit to Pu’u’o’o began to slow down and melt through the roof of the pipe. As the the connection between Kilauea and Pu’u’o’o began to clog up, pressure at Pu’u’o’o decreased and that at the summit increased. The lava in the pit slowly rose; eventually it just about overflowed on to the floor. This phase ended with the collapse of the Pu’u’o’o eruption. The lava found a new way out through the damaging Leilani rift eruption. Halemaumau collapsed.

This collapse eventually ended the rift eruption, when the path of least resistance was no longer out but instead went up. A quiet phase followed, until 17 months later the least resistance cracked. The collapsed crater now provided an easy way out for the magma. Since that time, the crater has filled with lava in a near continuous flow, albeit with two lengthy interruptions. Sometimes the lava would flow on top, at other times it would push up the lid. The second interruption came in September last year. Since that time, GPS measurements have shown that the crater was inflating, as magma collected at perhaps 2 km below the surface. Mauna Loa was preparing its eruption at this time as well. Was that related? Does the pressure in one volcano affect the other, even in the absence of a direct magma link? It is too early to tell. Hector and Chad were warning us that Kilauea was preparing to resume hostilities.




The GPS shows the movement of the CRIM GPS (south of the crater) and UWEV (north of the crater) over the past 2 years. CRIM was moving south, showing the centre of inflation was directly north of it (with some wiggling). UWEV was moving more northwest. The crater was expanding, and the inflation was centred in the crater. It may have been more to the northeast edge of Halemaumau. That is quite uncertain though with only two measurements. Both stations had gone up by some 10 cm, accelerating in recent weeks.

This inflation should not be overstated. The movements remain small compared to what the crater can do. During the 2018 eruption, CRIM went down by 2 meters! It has still only recovered 10% of that. UWEV went down by 50 cm: it has recovered about half of the 2018 collapse.

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10 year GPS curve

The picture above shows the 10-year curve. There were three phases of inflation, in 2019, 2021 and late 2022. The slopes are quite similar, at around 15 cm/yr. (There was a brief phase of stronger inflation immediately before the 2021 eruption.) This suggests that the three eruptions are similar in magma growth rate and depth. In contrast, the 2018 eruption did not have a strong inflation phase, but then this eruption did not start at Kilauea: it started with a magma chamber failure at Pu’u’o’o.

Once Mauna Loa ended its circus (it is only a month ago!), Kilauea saw its chance for the lime light. At Christmas, a larger earthquake moved the crater rim notably. A new dike started to form in the past few days, as shown by earthquake clusters. This was the state of the volcano only one day ago.

UWEV tilt

Just after midday (local time) on Jan 4, the tilt measurement at UWEV began changing. It moved up by about 3 microradians. This means there was a bit of uplift to one side, so that the instrument was tilting a bit. It is a very small effect, corresponding to 1 cm uplift at a distance of 3 km. It is a very sensitive instrument! It stabilized again, but began to tilt further in the early hours of Jan 5. Around 3pm it measured a sudden deflation followed by rapid inflation.

RIMD seismograph

The seismographs confirmed the action. After a little tremor in the morning, a tremor wave hit at around 3pm. Magma was on the move: the seismograph detected the gurgling of the fluid, much like gassy plumbing. The tremor calmed down again by 3:30, after two earthquakes. This was the quiet before the storm. It is not uncommon that seismographs go silent in the hours before an eruption. The conduit is fulland is putting pressure on the plug. Nothing can move until the plug gives way: the magma is slowly increasing the pressure and is waiting for failure. It is not actually the magma that is pushing. Gas has come out of the magma and travels ahead. There is now a high pressure gas pocket directly underneath the plug. After a few months of no eruption, the crust is probably a few meters thick.

Failure came at 4:34 pm. The seismograph resumed gurgling, showing magma was on the move. The path was now open. Magma and gas combined to create fountains, reported as up to 50 meters tall. Underneath the fountains, magma flooded out and covered the solid crust in molten rock. HVO noticed the glow almost immediately.

You may want to read Hector’s post on the start of the December 2020 Kilaueau eruption!


The eruption is a very pretty one. The lava pool is big and red and covered with grey pancakes (thinly crusted lava). The views are clear and close and much better than the cloud-affected Mauna Loa eruption. Kilauea’s lava is also safely contained in a big crater. And one feature has really stood out in the early videos. Are you ready to surf the lave waves? (Not recommended!)

Lava waves

A video was published taken by Janice Wei showing lava fountains with spreading lava. It is fascinating to see how the lava moves in a clear wave, much like a wave in water. It even shows the lava wave breaking.

This video does not show a scale. The wave moves out over about 10 seconds before decaying. We know that the fountains were about 50 meters tall. Using that as a scale, the velocity of the lava wave is about 10 m/s initially, slowing down to 5 m/s later on. These numbers are only approximate! The height of the wave also decays, from about 5 meters initially to around 1 meter later on in the video. Again, take these numbers with a large grain of salt. The wave reaches about 200 meter from the fountain. There is only one main wave, but a small echo follows some 60 meters later, with a much smaller height.

This allows a simple estimate of the viscosity of the lava. The viscosity determines how much energy is lost by internal friction, and this causes the wave to decay at larger distances. Water waves decay slowly due to low viscosity, while honey waves disappear very fast due to high viscosity. A fun trick is to set up a wave in water that is beginning to freeze. You will find that the wave decays quickly: freezing water has a high viscosity.

We can guess the speed of the wave (roughly 10 m/s), the wavelength (say 60 m), the density of the lava (estimated at 2500 kg/m3), and the damping rate (roughly estimated at 0.04/m, based on the decline of wave height). There is now an equation that relates this to the viscosity. It depends on whether the wave is governed by gravity or by surface tension but this only makes a factor of 3 difference. Plugging my numbers into this equation gives me a viscosity of roughly 20,000 Pa s. (Pa s stands for Pascal-second, the units used for viscosity.)

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(If you are interested, the equation for the viscosity is above where ρ is the density of lava, v the velocity of the wave, α the damping rate and λ the wavelength of the wave. This assumes a gravity wave: if instead there is high surface tension, the viscosity becomes three times higher.)

For comparison, Einarsson in 1966 obtained a viscosity of 10,000 Pa S for lava waves around the vent of Hekla. At Etna, Pinkerton & Norton in 1995 measured around 13,000 Pa s for Etna, and around 350 Pa s for Kilauea. Shaw obtained the viscosity of lava in the Makaopuhi pit crater in 1965 (using a different method: see below) and obtained 500 to 750 Pa s. The value I find here is normal for gas-poor lava but it is relatively high for Hawai’i. It could be lower if the wavelength is much less. Making it 20 meters would reduce the viscosity by a factor of 10.

Shaw’s measurement of the Makaopuhi lava lake. Peck et al. 1979, Scientific American

The question was raised whether the lava was fountaining from the lava (magma?) sitting below the crust, or from new lava coming up from the deep. The viscosity suggests the ejected lava is not that fresh but has lost gas and may have crystallized a bit. Therefore it is likely that it is lava from the existing Halemaumau lava pool. The new dike increased the pressure and added gas, but did not (yet) contribute directly to the eruption.

Filling up

The eruption rate has not been published yet. We can do a very rough estimate. The wave velocity decreased by a factor of 2 as the wave moved out. This corresponds to a decrease in depth of the lava of a factor of 4, because the wave speed scales as the square root of the depth of the liquid. Much of this comes from the decrease in the height of the lava wave itself. A quick estimation gives a depth of the lava surface of 1 to a few meters. Assuming this covered an area of 200 meters by 200 meters, and that the video was taken 15 minutes after the onset, the flow rate becomes 100 m3/s. This is a very rough number, and is likely an underestimate: the actual number could easily be several times higher (or more!).

A magma supply rate of 0.1 km3/yr would give a steady state eruption rate of 3 m3/s. That is too low for a stable eruption: it won’t get through the deep lava pond at this rate. This is the reason why the eruption must be intermittent: over time the eruption rate decreases as the fresh magma is depleted, but before it reaches equilibrium with the input rate the eruption stops. Now it has to wait for the pressure below the surface to increase, to allow the eruption to resume. However, this argument does not tell you how the eruption will last. That depends on the size of the available magma reservoir. Pu’u’O’o kept going for 30 years, although it did eventually peter out.

The eruption is likely to continue for months but will not remain as spectacular as it is now. The lava flood has covered much of the surface in fairly hot and shiny material. The rate at which lava is coming out will reduce as the pressure stabilizes. The surface will develop a grey crust and lava will be seen in patches and breaks. This is likely to continue for months, but eventually the eruption will suspend itself again. And the game repeats itself.

Do realize how far is has already come. Below is a USGS depiction from less than a year ago. The lake is now lapping the shores of the down-dropped block.

What is the end game?

Where will it end? The filling of the Halemaumau crater is not yet complete. If the filling continues, it may overflow in a few years. The situation would be similar to that of 1914-1918, when this crater also filled and over four years, overflowed on the floor of the large caldera. A century earlier, the lava lake reached another high point in 1830-1840. It is time for a rerun.

These high stands do not last. The links to the rift zones eventually fail and the crater drains. The drainage can lead to powerful explosions which can be dangerous to tourists. The rifts can then in turn feed fissure eruptions, as in 1840, but this may not always happen.

So we may have some years or a decade of more fun with Kilauea. Enjoy – but don’t be fooled. This volcano can have a temper when filled up too far.

Albert, January 2023

William Pinkney Toler, 1860’s Wikimedia

140 thoughts on “The 2023 Kilauea eruption

  1. Been waiting on this since the HVO email arrived. Greatly appreciated and many thanks. Time for another stay at Volcano House. Twenty years been too long.

  2. Hi Albert excellent article

    Well the viscosity of Hawaiian lavas are extraodinary low as seen here 11:02 – 11:10 its so fluid it looks like liquid aluminium in this USGS shot , But the 2007 – 2018 overlook lava lake was hotter stuff than even now. Its viscosity was perhaps 10 PA.s and nearly crystal free. Kilaueas lavas can display extraodinary low viscosity. Its very very fluid ( Kamokuna firehose is another example )

    I put the viscosity of Kilaueas erupting lava from around 10 to 200 PA.s depending on location and conditions, and the deep superhot magma is as fluid as water

    Puu Oo was erupting at supply rate at a few cubic meters a second and probaly woud have still been ongoing today without the Leilani rifting event. Kilauea have an extraodinary high magma supply today, and thats seen by the long term inflation of Kilaueas summit thats ongoing now.

    • 20 000 PA.s is more like an Etna clastogenic Aa flow thats feed by huge fountains

    • Viscosity for Kilauea is similar to Nyiragongo.. looks about the same, just with Kilaueas Thoelitic basalts being more shiney and silvery

    • Kilauea defentivly is runny.. and lava often look more runny than it is because of its high density, but Kilauea is capable of milimeters thick spatter sheets that clad the walls of the 2008 – 2018 lava lake

      Early in 1900 s and late 1800 s before modern instruments USGS tought Kilauea had almost same viscosity as water, and Infact Jaggar was frequently fascinated by the very low viscosity of the Hawaiian lavas, compared to most other lavas

      • The number I derived does seem high. The most uncertain part is the wavelength: that could be smaller. Make it say 3 times smaller would require higher damping, but it would still give a ten times lower viscosity. Still, it seems to me that the viscosity of the first eruption was higher than typical for Kilauea. The lava was a bit stale, and so likely from the existing pond rather than new magma. Crstyllization increases viscosity and this will have happened directly underneath the crust. Of course, the same happened in Leilani

        • I dont see a second wave in the video, not connected to the first, I have watched that now quite a lot of times 🙂
          The wave seems to be a big gush of lava where the fountain blows out the small hole it began from and relieves some pressure. The second wave looks like just a set of ripples from the now dome fountain, unrelated to the big wave. Maybe doing the calculation on the ripples is more accurate.

          The lava is just way too shiny and smooth to be that viscous really, it is still pahoehoe and even stays that way after the wave stirs it up, the lava would form a’a with a number like that and be spattering violently from the hole. Lava at Hekla and Etna is only smooth right at the vent and becomes a’a soon after. There are videos of Etna lava from yesterday that show it forming pahoehoe but it is still sticky and rough compared to pahoehoe in Hawaii.

          I do agree though that the lava is probably not new magma but lake lava already in Halemaumau at this point. The density might be more than 2500kg/m3, might be closer to 3000, but maybe not.

          • Possible. I did wonder whether the second wave was a separate fountain event. I see the ripples you refer to. If I used that, the wavelength is more like 4 meters. The damping becomes much higher so that compensates. The viscosity becomes around 100 Pa s. Interesting that this makes such a difference.

          • 100 Pa s, would be probably much closer I expect. At least, within a factor of a few. Summit eruptions at Kilauea are pretty consistent erupting at a very high temperature and low viscosity, flank eruptions are much more variable. But that value would be pretty similar to the lava lake before 2018 maybe a little higher.

            Incredible how it can sit basically at the surface so long and not change. I guess these lakes must not really cool down at all unless the lava is actually in direct contact with the bottom, the lava has such a low thermal conductivity it cant transfer heat through itself.

          • The correct answer is in between, I guess. It seems interesting that other people using this wave method also get higher viscosities. Perhaps it gets the surface viscosity while the smoothness of the lava also comes from the viscosity of the deeper layers of the lava flow

      • That was old lava from the rootless lake .. and even that is very fluid

        Fresh Halema’uma’u lava is probaly around 10 pas

      • It’s a pleasure to follow the observations of experts and it is great to find the opportunity to ask a question.
        I recently read through
        Reports on the estimated production of C02 which included
        That of sea floor volcanoes, and thought
        I detected an anomaly
        In the calculations as
        Not appear in the be branch of research involving the heat of the planet, every julle of energy from a submarine eruption is fully captured by the ocean and stored .
        This factor seemed to be missing . There is only a rough estimate of the activity of the
        Estimated 1,000,000
        Submarine volcanic vents and their heat
        Output has to be considered in the thermal budget, therefor l seek your opinion on my observation

        • Most deep Sea submarine edifices scattered on the abyssal plain are are not very active or are dormant or extinct

          cO2 from volcanoes are small compared to Human emissions

        • Volcanoes get their heat from geothermal energy. The average heat input into the oceans can easily be calculated: geothermal flux is about 90-100 mW/m2 of ocean floor, which gives a total energy in out of 0.05 TW. For comparison, the tides provide 2TW, of which about 0.4TW makes it to the deep ocean. Solar radiation provides around 50 TW to the oceans. So this can be ignored for the oceans overall. (Not entirely: the deep ocean is about 0.4C warmer than it would be without geothermal energy, enough to have some effect on the ocean circulation.). Individual eruptions can have a local effect, and can cause upwelling, but the heat is quickly dispersed across the ocean. These eruptions are included in the average numbers above. An oceanic flood basalt is a different matter: that provides more heat, and the inflation of the ocean floor also causes significant sea level rise. They are rare, though.

        • Lava have low conductivity too, so lava flows can flow miles, miles underwater because of that. Once you gets a crust on it, it insulates well

          Ocean heating from volcanoes is from geothermal circulation in the ocean water inside the volcanoes rather than eruptions I guess.

          Albert how far do the ocean get into the oceanic crust / litosphere?

          • This is the energy that is produced inside the earth, mainly from radioactive decay and a smaller part from solidification and contraction of the core. It will come out somewhere! The mid-oceanic rift produces a warmer, 8-km thick crust. Much of the heating of the oceans comes from the warmth of that fresh crust. Part comes out in eruptions, part in black smokers, but a lot is just slow cooling of rock. Iceland’s geothermal heat sources is the same, with a little extra warmth added

        • I can just imagine a Super Earth with more mass and therefore more heating, lots lots of volcanoes

          And perhaps as you say, most Super Earths in the habitable zone Maybe oceanic and wet worlds ?

    • For Fissure 17 s first day then the viscosity was much higher in the range of 10 000 s of PA.s

  3. Would 3 microradian signal not be equivalent to 3 mm of uplift at a distance of 1 km? Not 1 mm at 3 km which would be 0.33 microradians?

    The tilt went up by 10 microradians at U’ekahuna, which is 3 km away from the middle of the caldera. It isnt likely that the tiltmeters pick up the inflation of the main reservoir as that is too deep (same as why tilt didnt really work as a warning on Mauna Loa)

    • Yes, you are right. It should have been 1cm, not 1mm. The point remains the same though. I’ll apply for a job with NASA..

      The tilt measures the slope of the bulge at the location of the instrument. This slope is steepest roughly when the magma reservoir is as deep as the instrument is removed from the centre. A deeper chamber gives a shallower slope and a shallower chamber has the inflation much more centred. In this case, the effect is more widespread because the inflation happened at a large liquid magma pool which spreads the pressure around. The earthquakes were perhaps 2km deep, and that is where the dike came from.

    • It certainly is trying to become a mid-ocean ridge, and probably close to it.

      Geochemically, the volcanoes still have to get more tholeiitic. All evolved lavas in Afar are alkaline. Only some basalts, in Manda Hararo, Erta Ale, Ardoukoba, and Alid, are tholeiitic, but just barely. Mid-Ocean Ridges, the Red Sea or Mauna Loa are more strongly tholeiitic than Afar basalts.

  4. This time the vents are under the lava lake, not at the side. So it will be interesting to see how this affects the eruption dynamics.



    The 2008 – 2018 overlook lava lake was very fluid for soure, fluid and shiney, and unlike todays episodic open lava lakes, this one was a true open conduit lava lake pipe with lava circulating between the shallow magma chamber and the surface. I dont know the viscosity for that lava lake, but some USGS papers I read have it down to 30 pascals, and a gas rich layer with a density as low as water.

    Its low viscosity was specialy apparent when rockfalls disturbed the surface and it became a boiling mess in these videos ,
    And specialy this one .. superrunny

    Halema’uma’u have low viscosity I wonder how that lava woud stick to a hammer, probaly a thin glassy sheet on it If sampled.

    • The extreme fluidity of Kilauea is one reason I like this volcano so much .. the more fluid the lava is the better .. 🙂
      Reminds me of liquid aluminium

  6. Hawaiian Volcano Update: Kīlauea Eruption Summary, Maunaloa Cools, January 6, 2023 with Philip Ong and Dane DuPont

  7. One really interesting thing is the Mauna Loa and Kilauea eruptions effectively ended the same day, according to the USGS/Smithsonian weekly reports – Kilauea after a year of lava pouring into the crater. (Mauna Loa on 10 Dec, Kilauea on 9 Dec)

    That indicates a blockage occurred fairly deep in the conduit. This new eruption suggests the pressure built up and popped that cork, which has then come out the easier path: into the Kilauea lava lake.

    • They stopped within a few days, but the lava lake at Kilauea stopped actually rising before that, at the end of September I believe. This was basically when the eruption ended, probably magma stopped flowing from the main magma chamber into the magma chamber under Halemaumau, but because the vent was open it kept circulating, until eventually it plugged up. The original cause of this decline was that a sill formed somewhere in the summit area of Kilauea (no inSAR showing it yet so dont know exact location). The lake might well be reaching a limit of elevation, the tiltmeter has already stopped going down which is a big difference from September 2021, there has not been a lot of pressure relieved, so there could be a second chapter to this story…

      It might well be a little bit of a coincidence it stopped when it did only a couple days after Mauna Loa, the lake was already in a delicate balance that Mauna Loa erupting was probably enough to disrupt. I expect if the lake was healthy or the conduit was actually exposed like it was before 2018 or in the early 20th century the eruption would have kept going in the end given how it only took a month to erupt again afterwards.

      • The sill that drained a small part of the lake was entirely confined to the caldera. The deformation from the sill can be seen in the west caldera rim here:

        • So really was just within the collapse structure of 2018. That might be what prevented it from going further, a ring fault. Although presumably the area of intense noise is from the lava lake subsiding not an intrusion.

          Will be interesting to see what the intrusion for this eruption looks like. It might be significant that the eruption resumed on the other side of Halemaumau, especially given it has barely been a month since the last conduit was open. If new vents opened and are under the eastern part of the lake then the entire pressure of all of the lava in the crater is pushing down on it now, and that is a lot of dense lava.

  8. Interesting, the tiltmeter hasnt actually dropped off that much like happened after the last two eruptions. The GPS hasnt updated yet, it shows the spike but not anything after that yet. But this is much less of a change than I would have expected from the level of activity, at the very least I would have expected the tiltmeter to fall back to where it was a month ago when it started noticeably going up.

    The lake stopped rising in September because of an intrusion, so things could get interesting if the lake keeps going up much more. There isnt really any actual data on where the September intrusion was but if it could happen back then it can happen now, and will eventually anyway. Would be good to know how voluminous the Keaiwa dike and eruption was, to find out how long it will take for the lava lake to reach a volume large enough to do a repeat. I expect it is larger than present but the intrusions might be driven more by the depth of the lake than its overall volume, the lake is nearly 400 meters deep and probably dense lava, being at the bottom now would be like being over 1 km underwater adjacent to a rift zone full of fractured rock…

  9. 🙂

    Seems like it is holding more steady now, it will not stay this big forever but at least for a couple weeks this is what the view will be.

    • Yes and because the pond is not overflowing despite the output, it must have broken through the crust below it. I expect to see ooze outs around the pits edges soon as the lake under starts to rise, we may end up with 2 holes in the crust 🙂 the other hole is reactivated as well

    • Well 4 holes then with the two small ones and 2 larger ones

    • The lake surface has subsided, I think the eruption has gone back to a phase of mostly endogenous growth again. The dome fountain has high output but seems the lava is draining back again. Probably filling at the base rate once more.

  10. Another overflow period occurred during the year 1879 and is nicely depicted by this drawing by Constance Gordon-Cumming in Fire fountains: the kingdom of Hawaii, its volcanoes, and the history of its missions

    Although it appears that she didn’t witness it directly, she reports accounts of overflows during the months, and even days, before her visit in late October—and how disappointed she was that the lake had almost disappeared on that day! So she must have drawn this as a mix of her field observations and tales from previous visitors.

    • Creative imagination in that artist. Was there anything in fact to support that imagery?

    • I am rather concerned about the safety of the three people on the drawing!

    • “The lake had almost disappeared on that day!”. I guess it must refer to the following event:

      -Dike intrusion? April 21, 1879: The lava lake drains completely with 2 earthquakes felt at the Volcano House

      It was one of the ~6 lava lake drain outs between 1877 and 1899 that were separated by periods of overflowing. But it is a mystery where the lava went, maybe a sill or dike in the caldera area.

      There are many incredible descriptions of Kilauea in the 19th century. Back then people walked down into the craters and stood at the edge of the lava lakes, and I’m not aware of any bad accidents happening. This is a captivating narration from William Ellis in 1823, when the lava lake covered a large portion of the caldera, similar to the situation now:

      “Between nine and ten, the dark clouds and heavy fog, that since the setting of the sun had hung over the volcano, gradually cleared away, and the fires of Kirauea, darting their fierce light athwart the midnight gloom, unfolded a sight terrible and sublime beyond all we had yet seen. The agitated mass of liquid lava, like a flood of melted metal, raged with tumultuous whirl. The lively flame that danced over its undulating surface, tinged with sulphureous blue, or glowing with mineral red, east a broad glare of dazzling light on the indented sides of the insulated craters, whose roaring months, amidst rising flames, and eddying streams of fire, shot up, at frequent intervals, with very loud detonations, spherical masses of fusing lava, or bright ignited stones. The dark bold outline of the perpendicular and jutting rocks around, formed a striking contrast with the luminous lake below, whose vivid rays, thrown on the rugged promontories, and reflected by the over hanging clouds, combined to complete the awful grandeur of the imposing scene.

      The natives, who probably viewed the scene with thoughts and feelings somewhat different from ours, seemed, however, equally interested. They sat most of the night talking of the achievements of Pele, and regarding with a superstitious fear, at which we were not surprised, the brilliant exhibition. They considered it the primeval abode of their volcanic deities. The conical craters, they said, were their houses, where they frequently amused themselves by playing at Konane; the roaring of the furnaces and the crackling of the flames were the kani of their hura, (music of their dance,) and the red flaming surge was the surf wherein they played, sportively swimming on the rolling wave. As eight of the natives with us belonged to the adjoining district, we asked them to tell us what they knew of the history of this volcano, and what their opinions were respecting it. From their account, and that of others with whom we conversed, we learned, that it had been burning from time immemorial, or, to use their own words, ‘mai ka po mai,” from chaos till now, and had overflowed some part of the country during the reign of every king that had governed Hawaii: that in earlier ages it used to boil up, overflow its banks, and inundate the adjacent country; but that, for many kings reigns past, it had kept below the level of the surrounding plain, continually extending its surface and increasing its depth, and occasionally throwing up, with violent explosion, huge rocks or red-hot stones. These eruptions, they said, were always accompanied by dreadful earthquakes, loud claps of thunder, with vivid and quick- succeeding lightning. No great explosion, they added, had taken place since the days of Keoua; but many places near the sea had since been overflowed, on which occasions they supposed Pele went by a road under ground from her house in the crater to the shore.”

      • ‘No great explosion had taken place since the days of Keoua, but many places near the sea had since been overflowed, on which occasions they supposed Pele went by a road underground from her house in the crater, to the shore.’

        Obviously, they refer to the eruption of 1790 as the ‘great explosion’, it is curious that it is made mention of so many coastal areas being destroyed by lava after the fact. The only two eruptions in Hawaii that reached the ocean between 1790 and this account were the Huehue flow at Kona airport, and the Keaiwa flow that Ellis himself almost saw. Puna got flooded by lava from the 1740s to about when Cook visited but this was obviously before 1790, which was probably in living memory to some of the guides and unlikely to be mistaken.

        I recall this exact topic being discussed a long while back but I still dont have any explaination, other than still suggesting the dates of the Kaimu/Heiheiahulu and ‘1790’ Puna flows are actually younger than 1790, but that raises other problems…

        • You might include the Kamakaia eruption of Kilauea’s SWRZ, and also two fissure eruptions in the lower SWRZ of Mauna Loa (the Pele Iki-Manuka eruptions) in the list of eruptions that happened after 1790 and before 1823 near the coast of the island. After all Ellis says near the sea, not in it. I don’t think Heiheiahulu could possibly be younger than 1790, the lava flows that destroyed the Kaimu area (which must refer to Heiheiahulu, and possibly to the southern young fissure near Leilani) are mentioned by Ellis to have been erupted during the reign of Alapai, a king that came well before Keoua (around 1750 or so).

          • The Heiheiahulu flows at least on mapscI find are from 1750 for the shield, and undated but immediately preceding are voluminous a’a from several eruptions along the MERZ going between Kalalua and the highway. Heiheiahulu is about 1 km3, if it was at least similar to Pu’u O’o it probably lasted a decade, I put the southern ‘1790’ flow as marking its end in about 1760 but that is not based on anything concrete. The northern ‘1790’ flow I put as a second part of a massive eruption that happened in and east of Napau, the last time Kilauea did a proper lava flood from somewhere not on the LERZ. The fractures line up in old photos and in parts not buried by Pu’u O’o. I recall reading that north flow erupted around the time of Cook’s landing. The eruption in question is all sheet pahoehoe covering an area of almost the same as the flow field of Pu’u O’o, probably at least as big as the 1840 and 1960 eruptions and an order of magnitude bigger than any of the historical fissure eruptions in the MERZ, that is the sort of eruption Kilauea can do running up to a caldera collapse I guess.

          • Yes, according to Ellis the north flow was erupted during the reign of Kalaniʻōpuʻu (1754-1782), it may have been a catastrophic draining of the Napau lava lake. The lava flows of Kaimu were erupted during the reign of Alapainui (1725–1754). Ellis did not mention the age of the south flow specifically, though it could be included in the Kaimu flows.

          • The vents assiciated with Heiheiahulu seem to line up pretty well with the south flow fissures. It makes me wonder even if maybe they are actually from the initial eruption in the beginning, before the shield. If this is the case it may lead to reasonable speculation that Kilauea does pretty serious fissure eruptions when it is primed to collapse in a big way, having two such eruptions of that magnitude in the span of 20 years with a shield inbetween.

            It would make more sense if the south flow is the final stage of Heiheiahulu though, at least in considering shields in Hawaii appear to be terminated by rifting lava flood eruptions. In hindsight it should have been blindingly obvious a LERZ intrusion was eventually going to kill Pu’u O’o, magma at high elevation doesnt care for our designation of summit ir flank vent.

            Will have to get back to mapping these again.

      • I never cease to be impressed with the prose employed by writers of that time. They painted pictures with words. Jaggar’s ‘Chapter 1’, in his ‘Volcanoes Declare War’ had a bit of that flavor, in the transcription of his words during a radio broadcast from Halemau’mau in 1934. To whit, “Tonight in the presence of the firepit, with glowing lave again gushing and pounding and shaking the seismographs, I am asked to tell you something of the scientific meaning of it.” That fired the imagination and interest of an 8-year old some 72 years ago, and it wouldn’t be for another half century that the child, now a grown man, would sleep three nights in ‘Volcano House’, directly above the author’s laboratory. The events of 1924 obliterated the architecture of 1873, as did the events of the past 15 some-odd years to date. Pele is forever renewing the canvas.

        • Yes, the old prose is hard to beat. And those writing were read (often out loud) by ordinary people. The written English language has become a lot simpler over the past century. People now want their input in short words. Four letter ones, preferably

    • Dome fountain continues in the pond and the pond is not overflowing that much, this means it haves To be circulating … the lava looks extremely fluid too in the live webcam

  11. Meanwhile in space (or rather not)

    More seriously “Scott Manley – Why Did Virgin Orbit’s First Launch From The UK Fail To Reach Orbit?”

    • This is a bit unfair. Rockets do have problems, especially early in the development. This one has a 60% success rate or so and that will improve. The US may want to recall its first attempt where the rocket reached 1 meter altitude before failing, with the satellite eventually rolling over the ground. It was called the kaputnik. A decade later, they landed on the moon. A decade after that, they were no longer able to do that. 35 years later, NASA rediscovered how to make a Saturn but at a cost that will limit it to one launch per year. Progress in space goes in mysterious ways. How many mishaps has the Musk rocket have? Enough that it sometimes has difficulty getting FAA clearance to launch.

      • To be fair, SpaceX does also run the most used rocket today, and launched the most rockets in one year ever in 2022. Starship is uncharted territory, it is many firsts. It took Falcon 9 several years to work. It took Tesla 16 years to make money. But now F9 has a launch every other day (61 in 2022) and Tesla is on track to be the next Toyota in a couple years time. Exponential growth and S curves are fun to watch 🙂

        Starship is at the bottom of the S curve the tough stuff that Nasa never shows or talks about, the next few years are going to be incredible for us space nerds.

      • Just trying to find the funny side really out of the disappointment but the entire event including the webcast was completely amateurish. I know the companies have little connection other than the name but surely Branson could have got some more resources from Virgin Media to support Virgin Orbit.

        Not to mention the use of Imperial Units throughout, which we were told during the webcast was what everybody used in space (Fahrenheit, PSI, mph and feet) but seemed to be more of a political statement after Brexit especially when you add in the Cabinet Minister appearing to add some jingoism. Anyway I’m sure SpaceX, ESA, Russia, China, India etc. will immediately drop metric to fall into line with the UK government and Richard Branson.

        All these ludicrous values (forget the units for a moment) were actually displayed on screen including the entire display crashing with the “Aw Snap” message from the Chrome browser app they were using. I hope they pay more attention to their flight software than was obviously given to the telemetry display.

        • Oh and I even forgot their fire-door entrance to mission control was propped open with a fire extinguisher.

          Rebecca Ryder
          The virgin orbit control room looks like a call centre for a insurance company.

          Please do notice the fire extinguisher holding the door open. Very advanced #VirginOrbit

    • Interesting paper. Hope to visit that part of California some day. Thanks for the link, jbean45.

  12. A very Impressive sight now in Halema’uma’u with many open lava lakes on thermal

        • That’s not even half what it should be. The exposed lava surfaces should be at least 1100C, surely? If that scale were accurate it would be maxing out at about 450C at the dome fountain above the main vent, which is surely way too low.

          • It is 1100 C, the surface is much less though, probably only a few hundred as it doesnt glow. If the camera was programmed to see detail at 1100 C then anything not near that would just look black if there isnt lava. Because incandescent lava is not a big part of the view it is overexposed but the rest of the crater is visible clearly.

            I dont know a lot about this exactly but I recall most thermal cameras dont go above 500 C easily. I guess it us because incandescence occurs above, in which point the thermal view js not necessary. It might also be that they get completely saturated and damaged, lava would output an enormous amount of infrared, it would be like looking at the sun.

  13. The lake has risen 20 meters since last week. I presume the laser point was moved, but still that is a lot considering how much bigger the lake is in area now.

  14. Interesting information statement from AVO about increased earthquakes in the Katmai region…

    • There was some quakes in the past year at Trident interpreted as magma movement. So likely to be an eruption there soon.

      Katmai group volcanoes generally are effusive, Trident was like this in the mid 20th century, all of the other volcanoes are mostly lava cones. The 1912 eruption was a bit of an outlier, being rhyolite and explosive. The area might evolve into a big caldera (‘supervolcano’) in the far future, the 1912 eruption is maybe a first step. If the lava erupted starts becoming crystal poor that is a sign but based on appearence that hasnt happened yet.

  15. I took alot of Photos from Etnas summit craters that I was inside in a few years ago, so perhaps to put that on VC in a a new article from me


    This is the one thing I most wanted to see from this eruption, the exact moment lava broke the surface.

    Even in direct sunlight the lava glows a bright orange, this stuff must be extremely hot.

  17. It is interesting how both of the last two eruptions began from the same place, east of the island (that island really needs a name now too). Then the eruption breaks out somewhere else and takes over.

    It looks like the vent feeding this eruption actually is a different vent to before, on the east side probably almost underneath the last remaining fountain. Maybe this vent already existed but was a drain rather than a source. But it looks like now there is potential for the entire lake to drain out if a flank vent opens, not just the top 150 meters, the volume is not important (new lava to date is a bit over 8 million m3) so much as the pressure, being at the bottom of the lake is like being 1 km underwater. Maybe that is why the GPS has hardly shown any deflation, the pressure was not relieved, the lake may not be correctly called a rootless lake anymore… Effectively there is now an instant high lava stand again, close to 900 m elevation, the 2018 stand was a little over 1 km. I guess the question is if 160 million m3 is enough to actually erupt on the flank.

    • 8.4 million m3 equals out to about 1 million m3/day since the beginning, it is also equivalent to about a month of standard output, so things should be back on track now.

      But I cant help but think about the number of deep earthquakes around Kilauea in the past month, following Mauna Loas eruption. Mauna Loa deflated a lot, and the rapid reinflation that it experiences after eruptions suggests magma throughout its whole system moves, reaching equilibrium then beginning the countdown again, maybe why it goes so long between eruptions. Obviously Kilauea could erupt anyway but if Mauna Loa deflated down to a deep level that would relieve pressure on Kilauea too and also potentially induce decompression melting and magma rise. The first eruption at Pu’u O’o after Mauna Loa erupted in 1984 was a lot bigger than the others, 3 days of massive fountains and 4 lava flows over 10 km long one nearly 15 km. After 1975 Kilauea inflated very rapidly despite Mauna Ulu just ending and a major SWRZ intrusion to begin that year. Although because this set off the 1975 earthquake there was only an intrusion not a major ERZ eruption (at least not immediately)
      Inflation at Kilauea after 1950 was also very fast, after little else for 20 years.

      Given the data, this eruption resuming might not be the end of the story yet. The 2023 eruption could be one we come to remember.

    • Diffrent But still very familiar 🙂 its the inner caldera morphology thats been changed, refilled , collapsed. But before 1500 s collapse it woud look very diffrent

    • In 1855 the massive crusted lava lake that existed since the beginning of the century was still there, the activity was more subdued than in the 1820-40s but it was pretty persistent up until 1868 when it drained and disappeared, replaced with a shield that evolved into modern Halemaumau. Each of those fuming spots is probably a lava lake or a hornito, with at least one larger open lake probably near the location of the dense fume in the middle, which probably looked a lot liek the older pit on the lake today, and was above the deep source vent at the bottom of the lake that would eventually evolve into Halemaumau. So basically it is what we see today but the whole caldera was like that, not just the western 3rd 🙂

      This lake first formed in the early 1800s, it wasnt there in 1794 when Kilauea was seen from Mauna Loa, but it was pretty obvious there was lava in the caldera before 1823, maybe the lake started in 1807 based on the supply HVO gives for that era. It lasted until the earthquake of 1868, so over 60 years, it is basically a Pu’u O’o but stuck inside the caldera.

      If todays lake eventually overflows the caldera it will turn into a shield, that is highly variable and not certain by any means, but also very possible. It would only take 1.3 km3 of lava to reach the southwest rim, maybe 1.5km3 to be generous and allow for a shield to form not just a flat lake. 1.5 km3 is 15 years of todays rate as calculated by the volume of the lake since 20/12/2020, so we either get a flank breakout or it overflows in 2035, or sooner 🙂

    • I wish these photographs could be restored and colorized, they would look better. I have heard of a few things that could do that. If there is anyone that could, it would be awesome to see these photos of Kīlauea in their full glory…

    • Looks like the active lake is building a shield. It is early still but maybe it is now more correct to think about the lava within the crater as as very shallow magma chamber than a rootless lava lake. By this time in September the surface lava had subsided and the crust of the older lava was rising, but here there is still a defined spattering vent as well as several other weaker vents outside the lake. It was found that the lake crust in Kilauea Iki was 6 meters thick after a year, so it might well be more than that in Halemaumau now even accounting for much longer activity in that interval.

      This sort of activity also is what happened when Pu’u O’o would refill after collapses. In 2011 it collapsed following a connected rift eruption in March, then refilled with a lava lake that was technically rootless, then the vent was eventually submerged and the lake became true, rising for several months. Eventually the lake formed a shield that overflowed Pu’u O’o before it again collapsed only 5 months later in August. Halemaumau is much bigger, around an order of magnitude bigger, but that just means to turn a year into a decade, things will change quick. It took only 20 years for Kilaueas lava lake to drain 3 times with two catastrophic eruptions between 1820 and 1840, and that lake was way bigger than the one today.

      • RE: “It would only take 1.3 km3 of lava to reach the southwest rim, maybe 1.5km3 to be generous and allow for a shield to form not just a flat lake. 1.5 km3 is 15 years of todays rate…”

        Do you envision this volume rising to the level of, and compromising the areas where Volcano House and the old Jaggar Lab on UWK presently stand?

        • The lowest part of the caldera rim is the SW side, if it eventually overflows it will do so there and flood uninhabited areas of the Kau desert. It actually did already, in 1919-1921, just slightly.

          But I personally don’t think it will overflow, since 1500 Kilauea has collapsed and filled up its caldera cyclically many times, but it has never overflowed. There were major caldera collapses with energetic explosive eruptions in ~1500, ~1650, and 1790. There were also probably a number of unknown minor collapses with small-scale or no explosive activity, like the historical one in 1924, and many other summit lava lake drainouts. I think you need something very damaging to the plumbing system that stops the volcano from erupting from its flanks and instead just overflowing its summit. Something that obliterates the connections to the rifts, or the storage in the rift itself. A major caldera collapse, around 1100-1200, apparently did that and initiated a period of semi continuous summit overflows until 1500.

        • I dont think it will overflow either, more just pointing out that it wont take long before that does happen if nothing else changes. It isnt some far future removed thing, it is only in 2035, and that is for the caldera to overflow if it drains catastrophically that will happen sooner, possibly very soon even. It also is not impossible the deep supply increases, it was 0.3 km3 in the 1830s, and again from 2004-2009, if it does that we are looking at cutting the time in half.

          For it to reach Volcano Hlose would take way longer though. An actual shield would need to form that is higher, something like Pu’u O’o in the caldera, and then it would also need to erupt on its north side to direct lava that way, the south side will always have more weak points being next to the rift zone. Eventually this will happen some day but it is a whole different thing than filling to overfliw the southwest edge.

    • Awesome image and excellent article. Thanks for sharing. Perhaps Chad can use this image to illustrate a reply to my earlier question.

    • The second video is good. It’s interesting how the lava seems to advance in waves of very thin sheets. And each time the wave advances a little less further. As the beginning of the day the go to the bottom edge, by the end they are quite a bit away from the edge. Wonder what that would look like over many days.

  18. Is it my imagination, or is Hekla showing a (slow) run up? For years any quake around Hekla was noteworthy, these days we see quakes closeby or directly at the edifice a few times each week! Statistics would be interesting on this one, something like cumulative seismic moment might be overdoing it though haha

    Askja is more noisy as well, the uplift must still be going on. And Herdubreid is also happily chipping away. Last, but not least Katla is also starting to join the drumplots (and not the usual autumn icequakes anymore, also some deeper ones are starting to show). Would be interesting to hear from the Iceland experts which one is most prone to blow first? Probably still Grimsy or Bardy I reckon.

    • Next eruption, Reykjanes somewhere 🙂

      But one of those others is likely this year. Not Bardarbunga though, its activity is consistent with it recovering from a major rift, it will probably be decades before it does anything like Holuhraun again. Iceland is very active but it lacks a focus of activity like Hawaii, it isnt going to be like Kilauea and recover from a big eruption like that in a few years. Next big thing in Iceland will be from somewhere that hasnt done so for a while.

      I wonder if the strain at Hekla is not a sign of an eruption but a big quake risk on the SISZ, after all the movement at the other end at Reykjanes. That might set off a Hekla eruption though.

      • Hekla seismicity increased around 2015. I don’t know whether perhaps the sensitivity of the measurements improved at that time! There has not been much of an increase since, apart from a few nearby tectonic mini-swarms over the years. I am afraid that the next eruption of Hekla is likely to come suddenly and without much warning.

      • Whats the yearly magma supply to Grimsvötn? Is it 10 million cubic meters a year? 7 to 10 is a realistic figure

        • Depends, the central volcano is low, but the deep system that occupies the rift might be much more. But that may only be true if Grimsvotn is the actual main spreading center, the reality seems to suggest that title should go to Bardarbunga, there has been only one Laki in the past 5000 years but around 8 Veidivotn eruptions plus many more smaller rifts at either end of the area.

          Right now it might be 0.03 km3/year, to account for recovering the volume of the 2011 eruption and showing signs of erupting again this year. So it is somewhere around 1/3 to 1/4 of what Kilauea is doing right now since 2011 maybe as far back as the mid 90s to set off Gjalp, with two small eruptions between. That supply could be a peak though while it is more active, mid 20th century was almost 0 potentially.

          Just watch Reykjanes, that area has no magma chambers to complicate things, if it starts quaking then the show is on 🙂

    • I noticed something funny with the Grímsvötn GPS. If you look at the last part of the horizontal position curves, just before the last eruption, they did a little N-S dance while the E-W component bent off a bit towards east. Now I noticed a similar pattern in the current trajectory, only much slower. This is what it looks like if you compress the time axis to about 55% (in green) and then place the curves on top of each other:

      I’d say it looks like an eruption is “imminent” (half part joke, half part serious).

      Original graph from IMO:

      • Nice catch!

        In combination with the csm graph, one might think the final 😮 run up finally 😮.has begun.
        Really. 😉

        Graph credits IMO.

        • Yes, I think that is right. Ignore the big jumps and look instead at the slope: there has been a sudden increase in the rate. I am hesitant to predict an eruption in the next 200 days but it is beginning to look that way. Against that is the fact that lake recently had a drain-out, which removes a potential trigger.

      • Interesting. Sierra Negra in the Galapagos, which is in away like a slightly smaller version of Grimsvötn, tends to do that before an eruption. Inflation accelerated slightly a year or half a year before the eruptions in 2005 and 2018, best seen in the north and up components:

        I’m not sure why this happens, Other shield volcanoes do it too sometimes, I think. I wonder if it is possible that, before finally snapping, the rock around the magma chamber loses some of its resistance to the inflation of the magma chamber and starts to deform more rapidly and/or allow magma in more rapidly. So you might be correct, this could be the final run-up to the next eruption of Grimsvötn.

        • Here:

          The frequency of micro-earthquakes in the caldera area could be important too. I feel like the problem with the CSM graph is that it gives importance to the larger quakes, when in reality volcano-tectonic seismicity tends to be characterized by smaller magnitude earthquakes occurring frequently, sometimes in sudden flurries of numerous events.

        • Sierra Negra is a lot bigger than Grimsvotn though, caldera is about 8.5 km wide where Grimsvotn is about 4.5 km for the part with the lake. its caldera is not round though.

          By area they are both 62 km2, but that is including the two inactive calderas that make Grimsvotn have a mickey mouse shape, not the active part, which is about 20 km2. Bardarbunga is probably a better comparison to Sierra Negra, although Grimsvotn probably has more similar eruption mechanics (on a smaller volume typically).

          • I’m not sure about that though. The centre of inflation of Grimsvötn (yellow star) is in between the three calderas, and earthquakes extend to the north of it. I’d say the active magma chamber probably encompasses an area a bit larger than the three calderas.

          • You are sitting on a rift. The magma is likely to be moving along that rift (in an upward direction) because of the stress field. I would expect earthquakes to be distributed along this direction as well, at least until they become very shallow. (This expectation may be wrong!) The area around the three depressions will be filled in with ejecta, so quite low density. The southern cluster could be along the edge of that infill?

            (Guessing is fun!)

          • Interesting, I havent seen located earthquakes, it could be something to watch. Although it isnt about to go and throw another Laki like a few of the old VC articles seem to losely hint at, there are a few other places I pick for the next big thing over Grimsvotn.

            Eruptions at Grimsvotn are not really that big either. Tephra volumes are substantial but DRE is typically 10-30 million m3, 2011 was very big but still only 0.3 km3, and that was the biggest eruption from the system since Laki. Bardarbunga does much bigger eruptions, 0.3 km3 is probably the beginning number there. Same at Hekla. Grimsvotn seems to just break more easily than Bardarbunga.

  19. Looks like the lava lake has a defined rim now. There is also a cone starting to form around the fountain.

    At the same time there are also no breakouts at the edges of the lake like were so common last year, all the activity is surface overflows of the lake. Seems to be building a shield, the lake might end up becoming deeply buried and turn into a magma chamber. It is fascinating how this is evolving so differently, I guess having the vent open under the lake is probably why.

    • I’ve been watching this floating patch slowly wander in from stage right on the live webcam for days now. It is gaining substance as spatter rains down from the dome fountain. I wonder if it will stay close, or carry on its merry way?

    • I did notice he said this was in 2020, not this year.

      I also still dont really know how they dont see lava flows of the right dates on the flank, even on GVP there are dates of eruptions in the 1500-1800 era, like the Pu’u Honua’ula and Kapoho cone eruptions, or the massive Kaimu flows that were erupted between 1740 and 1780, and cumulatively amount to at least a few km3 of lava, as well as forming a shield volcano in 1750. If you include that lava then the 1700s goes from being a period of low activity and output to one of high output just not at the summit, which is actually exactly what the last 70 years has been like really.
      The eruptions near Pu’u Honua’ula are dated to about 1650 even, when the eruption of the Pele Kamapua’a chant happened, like a flank eruption creating a caldera only that the summit stage got a lot more violent than it did in 2018.

      If you look on the aerial maps from east of Kilauea in 1954 you can see the ERZ as it was before most of the modern sequence of large flows, only 1840 being observed, and the ERZ is still flooded over by mostly unforested flows. If the flows were from 1500 then they would be as densely forested as the north side of the ERZ, which is made of the Aila’au flows from 1400-1500.

      I have a hard time believing HVO doesnt know about this stuff, so why they dont include it in their analysis is beyond me.

      I guess maybe it is very hard to study this stuff now with so much of it being buried by Pu’u O’o, or being private property in Puna.

      • Here is my map of the flows erupted from the ERZ in the 18th century. The light purple is showing ‘fast eruptions’ or flows that are mostly a’a, being erupted at higher rates. The blue flows are tube fed pahoehoe flows, at Heiheiahulu and a vent on the south side of Leilani Estates. The volume of lava erupted in this sequence is on the order of 1.5 km3 for the fissure eruptions assuming a depth of 10 meters for the flows. In reality this is probably excessive, but a thickness of 5 meters seems plausible. Napau crater was filled in, that is probably 0.1 km3 by itself. So about 0.8 km3 seems very plausible. Heiheiahulu is much bigger, conservatively 1 km3, and 1.5 km3 is plausible.
        Not to mention that all of these massive fissure eruptions would need extensive intrusions.

        So there was apparently a lot of effusive activity in that ‘explosive’ eruption era.

        • Nice map. There would have also been repeated large scale collapse and refilling of the caldera, as well as possibly major lava lake drainouts. And the eruption in 1790 would have probably been caused by a voluminous effusion of lava from the submarine Puna Ridge. So it was no explosive period, well it did have explosions, but was mostly effusive activity, as usual. And the summit has still not overflowed yet since 1500, so by Don Swanson standards we should still be in an explosive period, given that ERZ eruptions get neglected and do not count, and the possibility of intra-caldera activity is ignored too.

          I’m pretty sure that Pele Kamapua’a is the Upper Kulanaokuaiki eruption from about 1100-1200. First because Ellis narrated this story but did not mention any king at the time it happened, like he did with all the other eruptions he spoke of, and I think this is because it was seen by the first settlers before a kingdom was formed. Ellis also mentions the lava flows of Kane Nui O Hamo, which are from around ~1100-1200 too, to have formed during the battle of Pele and Kamapua’a. To be more specific he says that one part of the island he was on, the one with Kane Nui O Hamo lava, had formed during that battle, doesn’t give any more details than that. Also the legend of Pele and Kamapua’a, the shower of large stones that went down to the ocean, seems to match best with the Upper Kulanaokuaiki rain of lithic fragments all the way to the coast.

          • I actually have a 1790 map, both of the small ring fault flow southwest of the caldera and the arculate fissure that the golden and eastern pumice erupted from. I also included a line of cones offshore of cape Kumukahi, but that is based on nothing except for one of them showing a crater and presuming a young age based off of that.


            After reading this old volcano watch though, I think maybe the 1790 eruption was a lot further east or was a much larger rift. The article describes a young flow from 1924 (presumably) that is at a depth of 3100 meters, around 48 km east of Cape Kumukahi. I find it interesting that HVO doesnt talk about this anymore, the whole idea of there being a submarine eruption in 1924 is supposed to be a bit of a fringe idea but this looks like a pretty direct confirmation to me, I assume they have their reasons.

  20. Taal has been producing over 120 tremors/day for over a week now, with most of the located tremors being on the SE side of the Island. This volcano isn’t finished just yet.

  21. Katla is getting noisy.
    AUS drum plot indicates lots of rock-fracturing type signatures and one brief episode of “tremor”.
    We’ve seen many such swarms recently, and as of now it doesn’t look like the activity is appreciably accelerating in character. Something to monitor though over the next 24 hrs.
    One of these days, one of these swarms will be the “real deal”…and with a notoriously short run-up period, Katla could be getting ready? Time will tell.

    • Katla is not the one with a notoriously short run-up, that’s Hekla. With Katla we will almost certainly see a very intense swarm of quakes. Think a few thousand quakes during a time period of at least a number of hours, but more likely during a few days.

      • We don’t know what the run up to an eruption at Katla would be like, other than larger (“felt”) earthquakes were noted in the hours before the last eruption. And I read an account somewhere of someone’s father telling him to watch the glacier for indications (sorry to be so vague). There could be large swarms of smaller quakes in the run up and changes in the glacier, possibly ice-melt / jökulhlaup.

        Katla and Eyjafjallajökull are both on an E-W rift so there could be similarities to Eyjafjallajökull.

        The usual caveats about being an amateur apply 🙂

    • I was intrigued when I saw that too. My guess is that USGS is trying to map the plumbing system under Pahala and the summit of Kilauea with tomography using temporary seismic instruments deployed during summer, maybe they will apply that technique of full waveform tomography they recently used in Yellowstone. The density of stations planned around the summit caldera of Kilauea for next summer is spectacular, a shame they didn’t put any inside the caldera itself though.

      • Looking more closely at the image there will be stations placed inside the caldera. Only the part that collapsed in 2018 doesn’t have planned coverage, which is understandable. It seems like they are preparing a big project.

        • Well the bottom of the 2018 caldera could be flooded by lava by the end of the year so makes things dificult… 🙂

          I kind of wish it went further southwest, to see if there really is a pathway to Pahala or if all of these sills are actually new and have not yet breached into Kilauea. It is hard to really draw conclusions but Pahala does look like a proto-volcano, albeit very deep, and not in a place it can easily erupt on the surface above it. But so much magma will eventually find a way somehow. It does always intrigue me how this all began really after 2018, but that the data shows forceful intrusions not a vacuum effect as would be expected. It could get very interesting.

    • Interesting! Are they going after the Pahala swarm? Does ‘seismic deployment’ mean creating more earthquakes?

      • Would think the amount of quakes Kilauea makes already is enough. It seems like pressure buildup and new eruption there is about a yearly cycle, maybe the degassed lava can overcome the equilibrium pressure so preventing the lake behaving like it did in 2018, which was an exposed open conduit. This might have been what happened in the 19th century too, episodic activity, but then maybe what we see right now is just because the lake is young and a stable pathway through the new caldera floor hasnt been able to form yet despite appearences. As the lake gets higher and the stress field changes this might create more possibility for eruptions at other summit locations still. Or for it to go down the SWRZ, it already tried almost 1.5 years ago already.

      • Thanks for the link.

        “In the summer of 2023, approximately 1600 temporary seismic instruments are proposed to be deployed across Kīlauea summit to record seismic signals for six weeks.” 1600 is a lot, HVO has “only” about 15 seismic instruments in that part of the island.

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