Tag Archives: Kilauea

Halemaumau Crater

A view of Halemaumau Crater and Jaggar Museum in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The latest eruption at Kilauea Volcano has recently been declared paused. It was never an especially dramatic eruption, but when I went down a few days after it began (here) the sky was illuminated by the activity. In recent weeks though, the lava lake formed by the eruption crusted over completely and lava from the active vent was also hidden from view.

The photos are two views of Halemaumau Crater, taken before this latest eruption. In the top one, the collapsed floor of the crater is on the left. This is what the new lava lake was filling up. On the ridge, to the right side of the photo, is the low profile of the Jaggar Museum, which was closed after the 2018 eruption and likely won’t reopen.

The bottom photo shows the easternmost edge of Halemaumau Crater, which wasn’t greatly impacted by this eruption or the events of 2018. Consequently, the walls of the crater are quite green and the floor is dotted with plants. These plants are mostly ohia trees, which are among the first plants to grow in lava fields, in part because their roots will tap into lava tubes to find moisture and nutrients.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kilauea’s eruptions, go to nps.gov/havo/.

A view of Halemaumau Crater from the Byron Ledge Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Ongoing eruption

The latest eruption of Kilauea Volcano continues. It’s settled down to being a fairly well-behaved eruption as these often do. Currently, lava is still pouring from a vent on the northwest side of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. It has formed a lake more than 200 meters deep, which continues to rise slowly.

This photo was from my trip down there in December. These two people were silhouetted by the glow from the eruption. To see what’s currently happening at the volcano go to https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/webcams.

Posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.

Up all night

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Night.’ See more responses here. Also posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.

On December 21st of last year, I went down to the coast to get a clear view of the ‘Christmas Star.’ This event was the closest coming together of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in almost 800 years. This isn’t to say that the planets themselves would be closer, but from our planet, they would appear so, so close that they would seem to be a single large ‘Christmas Star.’

I got down to the coast before sunset and stayed until it got dark enough that I knew I wouldn’t get more decent photos. I knew my best shot would be with some foreground still visible. The top photo is the best I could do with my camera. The two planets can clearly be seen close together, but with a sliver of late evening sky between them.

I headed home, downloaded the photos, and went to bed not long afterwards. Why the early night? Well, the next day I planned to drive over to see the new eruption at Kilauea Volcano, in the pre-dawn darkness, which required a 1 a.m. start. (That story can be found here.)

It was as I was wrapping up taking photos of the eruption that I turned to see the eastern horizon lightening. But there were still some stars visible in the sky and the brightest light of all was the planet Venus. That’s when I took the second photo before heading back to the car to start the three hour trip back home.

Uplifting moments from 2020

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Your 2020 Retrospective.’ See more responses here. Also posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.

In this retrospective I’ve focused on events and photos that were uplifting for me during the difficult year that was. Most of these photos haven’t run before, but were taken at the same time as those in posts that ran in 2020. Links to the original posts are at the end of the captions.

Kilauea Volcano erupts again

I woke up on Monday morning to the news that Kilauea Volcano had erupted again. Three vents had opened in Halemaʻumaʻu crater at the summit of the volcano. After the first flurry of activity, the eruption settled down to two of the vents pouring lava into the crater, evaporating a water lake that had formed since the 2018 eruption, and creating a new lava lake at a healthy rate.

This obviously called for action on my part in the form of going down and taking a look. Despite the paucity of tourists on the island, early reports warned that viewing areas were becoming crowded with long waits for parking spaces. But where many people prefer to visit in the late afternoon and wait for it to get dark, I like arriving in the wee hours of darkness and waiting for dawn.

Consequently, yesterday morning I got up at 12:45 a.m. (after a relaxing 3 hours of sleep) and left the house at 1:15 a.m.. The benefit of driving at that hour is that, while the sky is dark, traffic is light. In this instance a second benefit was a wonderful starlit drive, though I couldn’t fully appreciate it since I felt a certain obligation to keep my eyes on the road. Driving over Saddle Road though, I did notice a red glow off to my right, a sure sign of volcanic activity at Kilauea.

I got to the park at 3:45 a.m. and headed for the Kilauea Overlook, the prime viewing area. Parking was easy to come by and the crowds weren’t too heavy. While the vents couldn’t be seen from there (or any of the viewing areas) the sky billowed with orange and red clouds of steam and smoke. The second photo was taken there and I like how the glow illuminates the rock face of the crater.

I drove back to the overlook at the Steaming Bluff. This was farther from the eruption site, but virtually deserted. The top photo was taken there. I wanted to capture the eruption and the starry night, which I couldn’t do at Kilauea Overlook because the eruption dominated everything.

After a short stay there, I moved on to the Keanakākoʻi Overlook at the southeastern corner of the Kilauea summit caldera. This viewing site required a hike in of about a mile on the old Crater Rim Drive, long since closed to vehicles because of damage from previous eruptions. The third photo shows people at the overlook watching the activity. I left there as it started to get light.

So was it worth the early start and long day? Absolutely! The views weren’t as compelling as those from Jaggar Museum, now closed and erased from the online maps, but there aren’t many places on earth where a person can drive to the rim of an active volcano and watch an eruption with any degree of safety. At Kilauea, this is possible, so I take every opportunity to do so because each episode of volcanic activity is different and there’s no telling what I might see.

And the bottom photo? That was taken in June when I went hiking in the park. It was taken from the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu crater somewhere between where the top and second photos were taken. They’re a little different!

More information about the current situation at Kilauea Volcano, including photos and videos can be found at https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hawaiian-volcano-observatory/news. A map of the park can be found at https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/maps.htm.

Previous posts about activity at Kilauea Volcano can be found here, here, here, and here.

Kilauea Iki Trail weather

When I visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in the summer I hiked the Kilauea Iki Trail again. On that occasion, I descended into the crater on the western end and came back up on the eastern end. Shortly after I got up to the crater rim I took the top photo.

The trail continues around the northern rim of the crater and I continued walking. Three minutes after I took the first photo, I came to another overlook into the crater and the bottom photo shows the view I got there, an illustration of how quickly the weather can change in this area.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Signs: Yes, but…

Back in June, I went to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to do a little hiking. The park had recently reopened and I thought it would be a good time to do some of the popular trails near the summit that are usually crowded. I was right about this because I saw hardly anyone all day.

One of the trails I hiked was the Byron Ledge Trail and when I got to a junction near the end of it I came across this sign. I knew the park had made the popular Kilauea Iki Trail one way, but I hadn’t known about it applying to any other trails.

As you might have guessed, I arrived at this spot from the pointy end of the arrow. I’d hiked the trail in the wrong direction. The problem was that there was nothing at the other end of the trail letting me know I shouldn’t enter. When I hiked Kilauea Iki later, it was the same: at the parking lot there was a sign saying hike this way, but nothing at the other entrances to the trail.

On my way out of the park I stopped at the entrance and mentioned this to the ranger on duty. When I returned to the park in August, I asked the ranger at the entrance if they were still doing one way traffic on some of the trails. She said they weren’t. I wasn’t surprised. To do it properly, it would require a lot of signage and, with the Visitor Center closed, it would be hard to get the message across to everyone who visits the park.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Mossy path on the Halemaumau Trail

The Halemaumau Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park takes hikers from near the visitor center down to the floor of the summit crater of Kilauea Volcano. It mostly passes through trees and some lush tropical foliage, this being the wet side of the island. Part of the way down the trail eases through a channel between two walls of rock, which are covered in moss. It’s a quite beautiful passage and, in this harsh volcanic area, has a remarkably soft feeling to it.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.