Volcano Eruption Update

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Volcano Eruption Update

The exciting volcanic activity continues to evolve on Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Rangers at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park visitors center often share the latest videos and photographs from around the park on social media.

Note: Due to the higher elevations of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, temperatures can be much cooler than at sea-level, especially if you're visiting in the evening or at night. It's wise to pack some warmer clothing for your visit, if you plan on spending time near the crater. 


Overview

A short drive from the park visitor’s center, the glow at the summit crater, Halemaumau continues to send up voluptuous clouds of steam. Dramatic steam and gas has been pluming from a vent in the crater wall since March 11, 2008, representing the first eruption in Halemaumau since 1982.  As the levels of ash in the plume have changed, its color shifted a number of times from cottony white to various shades of grey, brown and even pink. At night, the dramatic glow from the vent kept visitors mesmerized. (The park is open 24 hours.)

The first March 2008 explosions damaged the crater rim viewing platform, and that area remains closed to visitors because of this danger and the plume’s heavy content of sulfur dioxide. Prolonged exposure to high levels of SO2 can be dangerous, especially to anyone with respiratory conditions. But as long as the customary trade winds are blowing, visitors to the rest of the park are safe. If conditions should change, park rangers will alert visitors.


Where to See Halemaumau's Glow

Excellent viewing is still possible most days from the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum overlook. The museum has informative volcanology exhibits and an excellent bookstore with DVDs, posters, maps, t-shirts and more — all of it contributing to our understanding of volcanoes in this extraordinary national park.

The excellent overlook at the Jaggar Museum is open, and will remain so as long as conditions permit, although the downwind stretch of Crater Rim Drive is closed off for now. Visitors might also get a view of the heavy plume of steam and gas from the Volcano House hotel.


Coastal Viewing

Meanwhile, 25 miles down the coast at the end of Chain of Craters Road you can hike to an area where lava from Kilauea Volcano is flowing into the sea. Be forewarned, it is a long hike (11 miles) and you should only attempt it if you have proper gear, plenty of water and are experienced with challenging terrain. The risk of becoming dehydrated or disoriented is very real. Guided tours are strongly recommended. There are options for hiking guides as well as boat tours that follow the coastline. 

You can also view the activity from the Kalapana Viewing area, located at the end of Highway 130 in the Puna District. Thousands of visitors every week hike to this site to watch lava ooze across the coastal plain, then roll into the sea leaving huge clouds of steam and sprays of molten rock in its wake. The viewing area is open daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., with the last car permitted into the parking area at 8:30 p.m.


More Information on Eruptions

Note that volcano activity is unpredictable and can change at any time. For the very latest eruption viewing and health info, visit the U.S. Geological survey’s daily update page at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php.  The local Civil Defense recorded hotline at 808-430-1966 is updated as conditions change. Or call the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park recorded message at 808-985-6000.


Other Resources

For the USGS Lava Viewing Safety Fact Sheet: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2000/fs152-00  
For County of Hawaii Lava Viewing Information: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/lava-viewing/