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  • Kilauea Volcano Erupts

    Rock n’ Roll Hawaii Style

    The first outbreak of lava occurred late in the afternoon of May 3 following days of increased earthquake activity and ground deformation. Three separate fissures opened in the eastern portion of Leilani Estates.

    Each outbreak has been preceded by ground cracking and strong gas emission. The activity consists primarily of a vigorous spattering of lava and development of very short lava flows that have yet to travel more than a few tens of yards from the vent.


    May 5 | Earthquake Near Kilauea

    The HVO recorded a magnitude 6.9 earthquake on Friday, May 4, 2018, at approximately 12:32 p.m. HST. It is the strongest quake in Hawaii since 1975—and the largest in a series of strong earthquakes.

    The magnitude 6.9 earthquake was located about 16 km (10 mi) southwest of Leilani Estates, on the Island of Hawai‘i, at a depth of 5.0 km (3.1 mi).

    See a map showing the location of the earthquake.

    These earthquakes were felt as far away as the Island of Kauai. The maximum intensity of shaking was recorded as VIII on the Mercalli Intensity Scale, indicating severe shaking near the earthquake’s epicenter. For more information, see the USGS ShakeMap

    The mainshock was preceded by a strong magnitude 5.4 earthquake approximately one hour prior. Several aftershocks under the south flank and summit areas of Kīlauea Volcano have already occurred, the largest of which was magnitude 4.8. Strong aftershocks should be expected, and could likely occur for weeks to months into the future.


    Roadways on Fire

    The active eruption of lava and gas continues along Kīlauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone within the Leilani Estates subdivision. Additional fissure vents producing spatter and small lava flow developed early this morning, and additional outbreaks in the area are likely.

    Deflationary tilt at the summit of the volcano continues and the lava lake level continues to drop.

    Aftershocks from the 6.9 earthquake continue and more should be expected, with larger aftershocks potentially producing rockfalls and associated ash clouds above Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.


    What’s Next?

    Earthquake activity in the area remains elevated and ground deformation is continuing. High levels of volcanic gas are reported around the fissure vents.

    Kīlauea is the youngest and southeastern-most volcano on the Island of Hawai‘i. Topographically, Kīlauea appears as only a bulge on the southeastern flank of Mauna Loa, and so for many years, Kīlauea was thought to be a mere satellite of its giant neighbor, not a separate volcano.

    However, research over the past few decades shows clearly that Kīlauea has its own magma-plumbing system, extending to the surface from more than 60 km deep in the earth.


    More Images

    Areas downslope of the erupting vent are at risk of lava inundation. At this time, the general area of the Leilani Estates subdivision appears at greatest risk. Hawai‘i County Civil Defense is coordinating needed responses.

    This thermal image (looking south) shows the active overflows from the lava lake (upper left) onto the Halema‘uma‘u crater floor. View is toward the south.

    May 1, the eruption at the summit of Kīlauea has apparently not been affected by the collapse at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō or intrusion of magma along the volcano’s Lower East Rift Zone. This image of the summit lava lake was taken during HVO’s overflight just before 8:00 a.m.

    Following multiple overflows of the summit lava lake on April 21-27, which spilled lava onto the floor of Halema‘uma‘u, the lava lake level dropped over the weekend (April 28-29).

    But on the morning of April 30, the lava lake level began to rise in concert with summit inflation.

    On Tuesday night (April 24), between around 8:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake overflowed once again.

    This photo, taken around 10:30 p.m., shows the large overflow as it spread west (to the right) from the lava lake onto the floor of Halema‘uma‘u. The bright (yellow-white) spot is spattering along the south margin of the lava lake. USGS photo by M. Patrick.

    A helicopter overflight this afternoon (April 23) of Kīlauea Volcano’s Halema‘uma‘u crater showed the extent of the largest overflow (silver gray) of the lava lake, which occurred from approximately 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. this morning.

    The overflow covered much of the April/May 2015 and October 2016 overflows, but a section of the 2015 overflow is still visible on the south (upper edge) of the Halema‘uma‘u crater floor.

    At the time of the flight, multiple spattering sites were active around the margin of the summit lava lake, and the lake surface had dropped to a few meters (yards) below the vent rim.

    The lower lake level reflected the switch from inflation to deflation at the summit of Kīlauea.