The month-long Kilauea eruption as seen from orbit

In early May 2018, an eruption on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began to unfold. Here’s what satellites saw in the first few weeks of the eruption. This video is a compendium of satellite views from NASA and other sources that tell the story of the eruption over the last month.

For more details about these images, read the full stories here:
Sulfur Spews from Kilauea
Probing Kilauea’s Plume
Kilauea Continues to Erupt
The Infrared Glow of Kilauea’s Lava Flows
Lava Consumes Vacationland and Kapoho Bay

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30 thoughts on “The month-long Kilauea eruption as seen from orbit

    • Nature telling you that there are NO Safe Spaces on or near a volcano. So all those in shock should stop whining. You want to know your future ? It’s nextdoor. Mauna Loa,

      • Yep, just about everything in Hawaii is built on lava flows.

        https://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/2005/144/images/minimap.jpg
        https://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/2005/144/

        Even on recent lava flows…

        https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/maps_uploads/600×450/image-482.jpg
        https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/multimedia_maps.html

        The Hawaiian islands are almost entirely composed of volcanic rocks, mostly basaltic. Even the rare sedimentary and metamorphic rocks are usually of basaltic origin…

        https://sciencing.com/types-rocks-mauna-loa-8368527.html

        Mauna Loa is more in the past than the future. The “next Kilauea” is forming to the southeast…

        https://geology.com/usgs/loihi-seamount/

        Technically the current eruption started in 1988.

        • David, I must take some exception to your comment that the “next Kilauea” is forming to the southeast. Perhaps you are unaware that there are two separate volcanic lineups, known as “Trends” that distinguish one set of volcanoes from the other. The next erupting sea-mount, Lōʻihi, may well in the future be the next true volcano, but it is not of the same ‘trend’ as Kilauea. It is of the ‘Loa Trend’. Trends are rarely discussed, but you can read about them here: https://www.newgeology.us/presentation37.html . So, this sea-mount, Lōʻihi, would the next “Loa”, not Kia(Kilauea). Each ‘trend’ may be related to the other, but they are quite distinct.

          And while Mauna Loa has not erupted for 34 years now, it is almost certainly far from going dormant. In fact it’s showing signs of reawakening. If both trends should start erupting simultaneously, then is it almost certain that the “Schist will be hiting the fan”, pardon the pun. 🙂

          • I didn’t know there were two trends… Learn something new every day!

            I did know that Mauna Loa was still active… just not very active. IIRC Mauna Kea and the big volcano on Maui are dormant, but not extinct yet.

            A serious eruption on Mauna Loa would definitely send a lot of basaltic schist into the fan.

        • 1984, Dave. The last time Mauna Loa and Kilauea both erupted at the same time. Kilauea has been erupting ever since. I remember sitting on the porch in the evening, sipping my obligatory beer while watching the Mauna Loa flow advancing down the mountain toward Hilo. A sight never to be forgotten.

          • I’ve only been to Hawaii once. My wife and I went to the Big Island in 2006. The coolest thing we did was the Blue Hawaii helicopter tour. The flight over Kilauea was awesome. We flew right over an open skylight… That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

    • Mahalo for posting this.

      I haven’t been to Hawaii (gotta get there before it gets too big!), and my focus during the eruption has been to find decent news (thank you Mileka Lincoln) and imagery.

      I’ve read enough to get a sense of what Kapoho meant to people, but haven’t gone looking for imagery.

      I never heard of the lake in the Green mountain crater until it boiled away. That sounded like an equally special place. Do you have any good references to that handy?

      Boiled away in what, 2.5 hours by a spur of the lava flow? I may make a stab at calculating the megawatts released by the eruption. I’m sure it will amaze everyone, including me.

  1. weird thing is the” pollution” tabs on nullschool earth arent showing anything no co2 no particulates either last times i looked.
    find it odd as it sure shows over cities

  2. also interesting was the rising steam from all the lava meets water is now causing snow to fall due to it going high n getting chilled

      • Don’t be too sure of that. I didn’t pursue the forecast, but I think I saw references to Mauna Kea (upwind of Kilauea) and that the tropical latitude and little change in seasons means they can see snow any time of year.

        I may look into it a bit more if no one else does, but I’m still busy with the WUWT redeploy and my Guide to WUWT.

  3. Shield volcanos such as this one have gently-sloping outer reaches.
    Yet these islands, as well as the Galapagos, have huge and close to vertical cliffs.
    Ages ago, I discussed this with a fellow Geo and one explanation was that the mass of lava flows eventually overwhelms the weaker crust of the ocean floor. The break is immense and close to vertical.
    All with considerable drama, including 1,000-foot tsunamis.
    I could not find anything on Google about this.
    Can anyone help?
    Bob Hoye

  4. What awful music.

    The eruption is a lot more impressive close to the ground. https://www.facebook.com/HawaiiVolcano/ has done a decent job posting recent videos.

    Ever since the Fissure 8 flow reached the bay, things have settled down with a nice “channelized” flow of an amazing amount of lava filling the bay and beyond.

    They don’t have my favorite video – hang on a sec.

    • Ah, here it is. Watch it! Weird music, but very much on topic.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sC5E4BV8d0w

      The video looks like a drone video, but those are banned due to all the helicopter traffic in the area. The page claims it was shot by a carrier pigeon carrying a GoPro. More interesting is that the pigeon flies lower than any helicopter footage I’ve seen. That helps make this the best video I’ve seen to date.

      This is before this lava flow reached the sea, so the white steam in the distance is lava boiling away the crater lake near the coast. There are other fissures active, since then everything has consolidated at fissure 8.

      The jaw-dropping aspect of the video is the volume of lava pouring out of the fissure. The only good scale in the image is the time for lava to fall from the top of the fountain. It’s about 2 seconds, which is about 64 feet. Later fountains reached some 250 feet. The volume of lava is huge, when I saw it I knew the coast was going to be flooded soon.

      • Awesome video. The people there are lucky it’s not an explosive volcano, like Santorini.

      • Cool video, but I didn’t know carrier pigeons could hover. There are a few shots where the camera could be panning, but it’s the ones where the scene stays steadily centered that really make me wonder how the bird is flying. Not to mention how levelly the camera travels. But let’s not get the guy in trouble. It’s way cool video anyway.

    • Yeah, me too, but I haven’t seen anything worth sharing. To do it right would require a repeatable view point and foreknowledge about where the flow would go. When things started consolidating around fissure 8, the main flow was heading south of Green Mt, then switched to the path it’s now on.

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