Halema’uma’u Crater

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Danger.’ (See more offerings here.) It seemed a suitable opportunity to post some photos reviewing on Kilauea Volcano’s last eruption, which began in May of last year.

The bottom photo, taken from the Jaggar Museum overlook, shows the scene on the morning of April 25, 2018. Lava in the active vent in Halema’uma’u Crater, at Kilauea’s summit, was just below the crater floor and had been overflowing into the crater in previous days. The overflow is the large dark area to the right of the glowing lava.

By early May, the lava level in the vent had dropped around 1,000 feet. This drop occurred at the same time that lava disappeared from Pu’u O’o vent. Not long afterwards, cracks opened in the ground at Leilani Estates, a housing subdivision in the southeastern part of the island. By the end of May, 24 fissures had opened in the area. The most prolific lava flow emanated from Fissure 8, which flowed to the ocean and created more than 800 acres of new land. However, more than 700 homes were destroyed by this eruption.

Meanwhile, back at the summit, the absence of lava in the vent in Halema’uma’u Crater resulted in a series of collapses of the crater floor. Each collapse triggered earthquakes and shot clouds of ash and toxic gas thousands of feet into the air.

The top photo shows Halema’uma’u Crater as it looks today. The crater is twice the size it was the year before and the floor, which was mostly flat, is now a huge cascading pit. In the upper left of the photo, the Jaggar Museum, where I stood to take the bottom photo, can just be seen. It was heavily damaged by the earthquakes, as were the parking lot and access road. It’s also much closer to the crater edge than it was. (Technically the crater edge is closer to it, since the museum hasn’t moved!)

The museum, along with the rest of the park, closed in May 2018, because of the eruption. While much of the rest of the park reopened in September, Jaggar Museum did not. There’s a good possibility it never will and that its fate will be the same as the portion of Crater Rim Drive in the photo to the right. A significant length of that road, which used to encircle the whole summit caldera, was destroyed, including the section in the photo which slid, intact, into the crater.

Things have settled down since September 2018 and there has been no volcanic activity anywhere on the island since then. But Kilauea remains an active volcano and will undoubtedly erupt again. It’s just that no one knows exactly when or where that will happen.

4 thoughts on “Halema’uma’u Crater

  1. Wow, so crazy all that changed so dramatically from the lava relocating to the fissures. I guess living on a volcano has that element of danger, Graham. Your images show the dramatic changes, so different from what we saw in January 2018, along with that update.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was blown away by the changes at the summit crater and by the new black sand beach at Pohoiki. It’s remarkable really that such a dramatic eruption resulted in so few injuries and no deaths.

      Liked by 1 person

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