Rising lava lake produces explosive show at Kilauea


Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are being treated to an extraordinary performance by Madame Pele.

The lava lake inside Halema’uma’u Crater has risen to heights not seen since 2008.

Molten lava usually boils about 150 feet below the rim’s surface, but Thursday night and Friday morning, the lava rose to about 66 feet below the surface and occasionally splattered over the top.

“The glow is great but it’s kind of a quiet thing, but now with the lava rising, it’s melting the shelf and making the rocks explode when they’re being hit with the lava. So it’s quite the audio experience up there now with rocks crashing and big booming sounds and popping sounds. It’s really cool,” said Jessica Ferracane of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said the lava lake rose about 33 feet since Saturday morning.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park reports that thousands of additional visitors are flocking to the park to witness the rise of the lava lake at the summit of Kilauea volcano.

Over the last several days, visitors have waited up to 30 minutes or longer to park. To ease traffic once the Jaggar Museum and Kilauea Overlook parking lots fill up, rangers are currently redirecting vehicles during peak visitation hours to park at the Kilauea Military Camp ball field. From there, visitors can hike one mile to the museum observation deck, the closest and best vantage point to view the lava lake.

“We encourage people to avoid peak hours,” said superintendent Cindy Orlando, “and arrive after 10 p.m. and before 4 a.m. if possible, or they will likely wait in line for parking. The park remains open 24 hours a day.”

The park offers tips for an optimal viewing experience:

  • Be prepared to hike one mile each way between Kilauea Military Camp ball field and the Jaggar Museum observation deck on Crater Rim Trail. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes, bring rain gear, water, binoculars, a flashlight, and extra batteries.  ​
  • Carpool if possible to reduce the number of vehicles in the parking areas.
  • As a courtesy to other visitors, there will be no tailgating in the Jaggar Museum or Kīlauea Overlook parking lots. Choose another picnic location so others have a chance to view the eruption.
  • To observe viewing and weather conditions, monitor the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webcams. The KI camera provides a panoramic view of Halema’uma’u Crater from HVO.
  • High levels of dangerous sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas and volcanic ash can be blown over Jaggar Museum by southerly winds. These gases are a danger to everyone, particularly to people with heart or respiratory problems, young children and pregnant women. Kilauea Visitor Center offers updates on air quality 24 hours a day, and visitors can monitor the Hawaii SO2 network website.

In addition, the public is reminded that park entrance fees apply and that the use of unmanned aircraft (drones) is prohibited in all national parks.

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