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Lava Rises to the Occasion during National Park Week

April 26, 2015
Lava 33 feet below the vent rim

This photo, taken at mid-day on Saturday, April 25, shows the lava lake as seen from the west side of Halemaʻumaʻu, which offers a different perspective. The lava lake was about 10 m (33 ft) below the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu at this time. USGS HVO Photo.  It has since risen an additional 30 meters at press time.

The lava lake within Kīlauea volcano’s Halema‘uma‘u Crater began to rise earlier this week and is now visible from many viewpoints along the caldera rim in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, much to the delight of park visitors and staff. The coincidence of the spectacular activity during National Park Week (April 18-26) has also correlated with a major surge in park visitation, especially from sunset through 10 p.m.

Park rangers encourage visitors to time their visit before or after the peak visitation. The park is open 24 hours a day, and arriving after 9 p.m. or before 5 a.m. ensures optimal viewing without frustrating traffic jams. Shortly after sunset on Saturday, April 25, a line of traffic was backed up almost two miles from Steam Vents to Jaggar Museum — the closest viewing point. Park rangers reported that visitors had to wait nearly 45 minutes before reaching Jaggar Museum, where many were re-directed to park at Kīlauea Overlook.

A row of headlights from cars waiting to get close to Jaggar Museum. Photo courtesy of E. Fien.

A row of headlights from cars waiting to get close to Jaggar Museum. Photo courtesy of E. Fien.

At the time of this post, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported the lava was within three meters (about 10 feet) of the vent rim. If inflation at the summit continues, and the lava continues to rise, it could soon spill out onto the floor of Halema‘uma‘u Crater.

Rising lava lake

The lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater continued to rise over the weekend. This photo, taken by park ecologist Mark Wasser, was taken Friday night, and shows the lake of molten lava within about 33 feet of the vent rim.

Visitors viewing lava lake Saturday

Visitors gathered around Jaggar Museum observation deck to observe the lava lake at sunrise Saturday morning. Photo/Darcy Bevens.

Lava lake video courtesy of

lava glow from summit lava lake

Friday night lights from the summit lava lake/Mark Wasser.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Ron Scubadiver permalink
    May 10, 2015 4:34 am

    I was there in February. It is amazing how fast things change.

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