2018 Hawaii Volcano Eruption of Kilauea

Big Island Guide Travel Guide

2018 Hawaii Volcano Eruption of Kilauea

Starting in early May of 2018 the Big Island of Hawaii began experiencing an active eruption of the massive shield volcano Kilauea, marking some of the most significant seismic activity in decades. (Photos & videos throughout courtesy of USGS)

2018 Kilauea Hawaii Volcano Eruption - USGS Photo of the lava lake dropping

The Kilauea eruption included a collapse of the floor of the Pu’u O’o crater, the draining of the lava lake at Halema’uma’u crater, then a series of eruptions from fissure vents on the volcano’s East Rift Zone. Lava oozed and shot out of the cracks in the Earth’s surface, particularly from a cone that formed at fissure 8 and poured out immense amounts of lava that made it’s way across several miles of the island and into the ocean.

2018 Kilauea Hawaii Volcano Eruption - USGS Photo of Fissure 8

The flows covered around 14 square miles and destroyed hundreds of homes in the area. The volcano put on some amazing lava displays over the summer, then in the first half of August 2018, the lava flow and seismic activity stopped suddenly.

Map of the 2018 Hawaii Volcano Eruption Flows

2018 Kilauea Hawaii Volcano Eruption - USGS Photo map of the rift zone flows

Timeline of the 2018 Hawaii Volcano Eruption

April 2018 Kilauea Eruption Update

Throughout April of 2018 there were indications of seismic activity with Halema’uma’u crater lake overflowing it’s rim onto the Kilauea caldera floor

April 30th the floor of the Pu’u O’o crater collapsed (east rift zone)

2018 Kilauea Hawaii Volcano Eruption - USGS Photo of Halemaumau explosion

May 2018 Kilauea Eruption Update

May 1st-6th the lava lake at Halema’uma’u crater dropped by over 700 feet and began a series of collapses, leading to explosions, earthquakes and ash clouds

May 3rd Kīlauea Volcano’s Lower East Rift Zone activates and eruption of lava and ground cracking begins in the area of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivision.

2018 Kilauea Hawaii Volcano Eruption - USGS Photo of fissure eruptions

May 4th a 6.9 magnitude earthquake causes fault slippage and the middle portion of the fissure system begins producing eruptive activity in the Lower East Rift Zone.

May 4th-12th the lava erupting in the Lower East Rift Zone was a cooler and thicker consistency during the early days of the eruption causing it to splatter and accumulate close to the rift. This indicated that the magma had been in the rift channel for some time. Methane was observed burning in road cracks overnight and volcanic gas emissions remain very high from the fissure eruptions.

2018 Kilauea Hawaii Volcano Eruption - USGS Photo of methane gas

May 18th Fissures open down-rift after a series of earthquakes in the area and hotter, faster moving lava begins to create lava rivers.

May 23rd Lava flows first reached the ocean south of Pohoiki Road

2018 Kilauea Hawaii Volcano Eruption - USGS Photo of the lava river

May 27th Eruptive activity resumed at Fissure 8 in the Leilani Subdivision causing a fountain to shoot lava over 250 ft high and formed a fast moving lava river.

May 28th USGS Video Update

June 2018 Kilauea Eruption Update

June 2nd Hawaii’s 200-foot-deep Green Lake evaporates away in under two hours due to lava heating.

Eruptive activity continues from Fissure 8. The channel grows quickly and lava races to the ocean. A lava pond forms next to the fissure.

June 14th USGS Flyover Video Update

Lava fills Kapoho Bay and begins entering the ocean at multiple locations.

Air quality declines island wide as the massive ocean entry creates clouds of vog.

June 29th USGS Flyover Video Update

July 2018 Kilauea Eruption Update

The Hawaii Volcano eruption continues throughout July with fast flowing lava from Fissure 8 stabilizing into a mostly predictable channel.

Lava continues entering the ocean across 4 miles of coastline

July 14th USGS Flyover Video Update

July 16th A lava tour boat is hit by a “lava bomb” while viewing the ocean entry, there are injuries but no fatalities.

August 2018 Kilauea Eruption

August 2nd the seismic activity at Halema’uma’u stops suddenly

August 4th volcanic activity slows and then quickly subsides across the whole Lower East Rift Zone

August 9th the 2018 Hawaii Volcano eruption ends

2018 Kilauea Hawaii Volcano Eruption - USGS Photo of lava entering ocean

Aftermath of the 2018 Hawaii Volcano Eruption

In December of 2018, with no active flows or significant volcanic activity present for over 3 months, the USGS announced that they are considering this the end of the active eruption that has been continuous on the Big Island since 1983. The scientists studying Kilauea have indicated that it is hard to tell what will happen next, this could be just a short pause while the lava shifts to a new location, or it could signal a longer period of rest from the volcano, only time will tell.

2018 Kilauea Hawaii Volcano Eruption - USGS Photo of the lava flowing into Kapoho Bay

In the mean time there is a great deal of clean up and recovery needed in the Puna region of the Big Island. Many neighborhoods were completely wiped out by lava. Roadwork has cleared many of the roads that were covered by flows and that work will continue through much of 2019. Many homes and businesses were destroyed by the lava or are struggling due to the closures in the area. Now that the eruption has ended, make sure to visit to the Volcano area and the National Park if you are in Hawaii and help support the local people who are rebuilding.

Hawaii Volcano Background Information
A History of Kilauea Volcano Before the Eruption – Video by the USGS

While we understand the wide spread interest and media coverage of this eruption, we also wanted to help keep the event in perspective. We wrote an article detailing the scope of the 2018 Kilauea Eruption, detailing the area that was affected in comparison to the whole island, and explaining the safety of visiting the Big Island during Volcanic Eruptions.

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