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Kilauea Volcano: Photos of the May 2018 Eruptions

Lava Hitting the Ocean
Lava Hitting the Ocean

Kilauea Lava Reaches the Ocean: On May 20th, lava from Fissure 20 had flowed all the way to the edge of the island and was falling into the ocean. The white plume rising from the ocean entry is known as "laze" - a contraction of "lava haze". Laze is produced when hot lava causes sea water to boil. That produces chemical and physical reactions that cause the plume to contain a mixture of condensed seawater steam, hydrochloric acid gas, and tiny shards of volcanic glass. It is a health hazard for people in the immediate area or downwind. Photo by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge.

In late April 2018, small earthquakes began shaking the East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano, located along the southeastern side of the Island of Hawaii. Soon, hundreds of small earthquakes had been recorded, and several fissure eruptions began fountaining lava and producing lava flows near the community of Leilani Estates.

In the weeks that followed, at least fifteen fissures were producing lava and poisonous sulfur dioxide gas. The lava flows had destroyed at least three dozen homes, damaged roads, downed power lines and covered over 100 acres with fresh lava flows.

Daily earthquake activity persisted through the weeks. The largest earthquake was a 6.9 magnitude event. It damaged many buildings on the island of Hawaii, triggered numerous landslides and new fissure eruptions, and cracked roads on the eastern part of the island. It was one of the most powerful earthquakes ever felt in the Hawaiian Islands chain.



First-Ever Ashfall Advisory
Ashfall Advisory

First-Ever Ashfall Advisory: The National Weather Service issued the first ashfall advisory for Hawaii on May 17, after ash plumes were released from Kilauea Volcano and rose to elevations of 30,000 feet. Photo by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge.

East Rift Zone Map
Hawaii East Rift Zone Map

East Rift Zone Map: An updated map of the East Rift Zone showing the location of the 18 recent fissure eruptions, recent lava flows, and historic lava flows. Public domain map by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge.

Sulfur Dioxide Plumes
Sulfur Dioxide Plumes

Sulfur Dioxide Plumes: This photo is a view from a plane flying parallel to the trend of fissure eruptions in the East Rift Zone. The white plumes rising through calm air are escaping from fissure eruptions. They are rich in sulfur dioxide gas. Public domain photo by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge.

Ash Column at Overlook Crater
Ash Column at Overlook Crater

Ash Column at Overlook Crater: A rockfall from the steep walls of Overlook Crater triggered an explosion from the lava lake below, which produced a large ash cloud that took about an hour to clear. Image by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge.

Fissure 17
Kilauea Fissure 17

Fissure 17: This is a photo of Fissure Eruption #17 from May 13. On that date it was producing intermittent lava jets that threw spatter and lava bombs up to 500 feet above the ground. A total of 18 fissures had opened as of the date of this photo. Image by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge.



Fountaining Lava
Fountaining Lava at Kilauea

Fountaining Lava: This fissure eruption in the East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano began with the emission of steam, then a small sputtering of lava from a newly-opened fracture in the ground. The same day, roaring lava jets produced 200-foot-high fountains of lava. This night photograph shows incandescent lava erupting from several jets along the fissure. Public domain photo by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge image.

Road Displacement
Road Displacement

Road Displacement: Ground deformation in the East Rift Zone has produced fissures venting steam and fissures fountaining lava. In this photo road displacement is made especially obvious where it cuts the yellow line on the pavement. Image by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge.

Steam Emissions
Steam Emissions at Kilauea

Steam Emissions: The first visible signs of potential volcanic eruptions were surface fractures and steam vents. These were convincing evidence that an eruption was about to occur. The steam was produced as molten rock below vaporized groundwater and caused it to begin hissing from the first fractures that developed at the surface. Public domain photo by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge.

Lava Flow Crossing Road
Kilauea Lava Flow

Lava Flow Crossing Road: This photo from Hookapu Street in Leilani Estates shows a lava flow crossing a road and damaging power transmission equipment. Flames shooting out of the flow are flammable gases produced by burning wood and organic debris that has been overrun by the flow. Public domain image by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge.

Satellite Image of Kilauea
Satellite Image of Kilauea

Satellite Image of Kilauea: This image from NASA's Terra spacecraft shows recent eruption features of Kilauea Volcano. Colors on the image represent different land features. Areas covered in vegetation are red, old lava flows are black and gray, the ocean is shades of blue. Yellow and greenish colors are hotspots that include erupting fissures, lava flows, lava lakes and recent ashfall areas. Hotspots in the middle of the image are the Pu'u O'o crater and lava flows descending the southeast flank of the volcano. The westernmost hotspots are the crater and lava lake on Kilauea's summit. The easternmost hot spots are erupting fissures and lava flowing to the northwest. The greenish areas southwest of Pu'u O'o are covered in fresh ashfall. Image by NASA. Click to enlarge.

Fissure Eruption
Fissure Eruption at Kilauea

Fissure Eruption: This panoramic photo shows a long fissure eruption in the Leilani Estates community that cut through a small wooded area and closed two streets near the intersection of Leilani and Makamae Streets. Public domain photo by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge image.

Sulfur Dioxide Plume
Sulfur Dioxide Plume at Kilauea

Sulfur Dioxide Plume: This map shows the geographic extent of the sulfur dioxide plume produce by the the eruptions on May 5, 2018. The plume was being carried towards the southwest along the southern edge of the island. Public domain map prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Click to enlarge.

Red Ash Plume at Pu'u 'O'o
Red Ash Plume at Pu'u 'O'o

Red Ash Plume at Pu'u 'O'o: A column of robust, reddish-brown ash was released from Pu'u 'Ō'ō crater after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake occured on the South Flank of Kilauea and shook the entire island chain. Public domain photo by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge.


Earthquake Epicenter Map
Kilauea Earthquake Epicenter Map

Earthquake Epicenter Map: This map shows the location of earthquakes that occured between January 1 and May 5, 2018, the date of the magnitude 6.9 event. It shows activity concentrated around the summit crater and across the East Rift Zone. Creative Commons map shared by Phoenix7777. Click to enlarge.



More Volcanoes
  Lava Enters the Ocean
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  Blue Flames
  The Next Hawaiian Island
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