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    All About Hawai'i Volcanoes and Earthquakes
    The Big Island of Hawai'i is composed of five volcanoes... Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualālai, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea.

    Hualālai and Mauna Loa are expected to erupt again. Mauna Kea can still be active though there are no current indications. The current active volcano is Kilauea which has been spewing forth lava pretty much nonstop since it began - and is among the worlds most active volcanoes.

    Currently lava comes out at the Pu'u 'O'o vent inside the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Depending on conditions the lava is quite often accessible and offers visitors an experience of a lifetime.

    Lava flowing from Pu'u 'O'o normally flows through lava tubes towards the ocean 6 miles away. About two miles before the ocean the lava encounters a 1,200 foot cliff which is flows over, and then two to three miles of coastal flats until it pours into the ocean. Often the lava is visible on the Pali (cliff), on the coastal flats, and at the ocean entry.

    In the huge Kilauea Summit caldera itself site Halema'uma'u Crater. On March 19, 2008, a vent opened in the crater causing a portion of Crater Rim Drive to be closed. The vent is still open but lava continues to remain below the surface of the vent.

    We have much to say about the volcano and the lava - this page lays out the various sections that you can visit.

    Be sure to read the section on Cautions and Warnings as it contains very important information about volcano safety.

    Cautions & Warnings
    Current Activity
    Earthquake Info
    Finding Hot Lava
    Cooking In Lava
    Fun With Lava
    Types Of Lava
    Lava Photo Gallery
    Pu'u 'O'o History

    Current Volcanic Activity

    The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory located in the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park provides a daily update of the eruption activity at Pu'u 'O'o and down on the coastal flats. This is a good place to check to see what is currently going on.

    We extract the daily report from USGS and have it for you below along with some of the most recent USGS pictures of the flow. Please visit the USGS website for more details and photographs.

    U.S. Geological Survey
    Thursday, December 3, 2020, 5:57 PM HST (Friday, December 4, 2020, 03:57 UTC)

    19°25'16" N 155°17'13" W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
    Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
    Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN



    Kīlauea Volcano is not erupting. Earthquake activity increased below Kīlauea summit between November 29–December 3, 2020. Kīlauea summit ground deformation rates accompanying the earthquake activity had a brief excursion from trends observed in the past several months; other monitoring data streams remained stable. Seismicity and ground deformation rates have since decreased; Kīlauea monitoring data streams remain stable and show no signs of increased activity.


    On November 29–30, 2020, the US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded over 80 earthquakes beneath Kīlauea summit, about 4 miles (6.5 km) southwest of Volcano. The seismic activity began late on the 29th, after 11:00 p.m. HST, and continued for approximately 11 hours. These earthquakes occurred in a cluster under Kīlauea caldera, about 1 mile (2 km) wide and 1–2 miles (1–3 km) below the surface.

    On December 2, 2020, increased seismic activity under Kīlauea summit began shortly after 12:00 a.m. HST, and ramped up four hours later to an average rate of 10–12 earthquakes per hour. HVO recorded over 220 earthquakes for the entire 24-hour period. These earthquakes occurred in clusters under the Kīlauea caldera and upper East Rift Zone, at 1–3 miles (1–4 km) below the surface.

    These shallow earthquakes have not posed a hazard from ground-shaking. The largest event in the sequence was a magnitude-3 earthquake, with the bulk of the events being less than magnitude-1. Most of the events have not been widely reported by residents. Reported felt events were described as weak shaking, with a maximum Intensity of III on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.

    On the evening of December 2, Kīlauea summit tiltmeters experienced a transient episode of deformation, recording a notable tilt signal (10–14 microradians) within a few hours. Tiltmeters have since returned to measuring tilt rates similar to recent months. Other monitoring data streams for Kīlauea, including gas and imagery, show no signs of increased activity.

    Clustering of shallow earthquakes in this region is not unprecedented following the end of Kīlauea's 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption and does not mean an eruption is imminent. HVO has recorded shallow earthquakes in this area for many decades across several eruptive cycles at Kīlauea. The recent seismicity demonstrates that magma continues to be supplied to the Kīlauea shallow magma storage system. These observations are within the expected behavior of an active volcanic system.

    As of the afternoon of December 3, seismic activity and ground deformation rates at Kīlauea's summit have decreased and returned to near background levels. Other monitoring data streams remain stable.

    HVO continues to closely monitor geologic changes, seismicity, deformation, and gas emissions at Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. HVO will issue additional messages and alert level changes as warranted by changing activity.

    HVO Contact Information:


    Kilauea Activity summary also available by phone: (808) 967-8862

    Other Hawaiian volcanoes summary also available by phone: (808) 967-8877

    Subscribe to these messages:

    Kilauea Webcam images:

    Kilauea Photos/video:

    Kilauea Lava flow maps:

    Haleakala Summary:

    Hualalai Summary:

    Loihi Summary:

    Mauna Kea Summary:

    Definitions of terms used in update:

    Summary of volcanic hazards from Kīlauea eruptions:

    Recent earthquakes in Hawaiʻi (map and list):

    Explanation of Volcano Alert Levels and Aviation Color Codes:


    The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is one of five volcano observatories within the U.S. Geological Survey and is responsible for monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawaiʻi.


    Volcano Books and Videos

    coverBook: Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
    coverBook: Hawai'i's Volcanos: Legends and Facts
    coverBook: Hawai'i Volcano Watch: A Pictorial History, 1779-1991
    coverBook: Mauna Loa: World's Largest Active Volcano
    coverBook: Hawai'i's Kilauea Volcano: The Flow to the Sea
    coverVideo: Volcano - Fountains of Fire
    coverVideo: Lava Flows and Lava Tubes
    coverVideo: 2003 Eruption Update: A Firsthand Account of the Current Eruption of Kilauea Volcano
    coverVideo: 2004 Eruption Update: A Firsthand Account of the Current Eruption of Kilauea Volcano

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    All images and content, unless otherwise indicated, are © 2004-2020 InstantHawaii / David Cook
    Nene photo in top graphics by Brenda Zaun