An eruption began at Kīlauea summit on September 10, 2023 on the downdropped block in Kīlauea ‘s summit caldera.
By September 16, based upon visual and geophysical observations, the eruption had ended. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions have decreased to near pre-eruption background levels.
- Live-stream video of Halemaʻumaʻu from the northwest rim of the caldera, looking east is available at: https://www.youtube.com/usgs/live.
- More eruption information is available at: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/recent-eruption.
- During eruptions, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) continues to closely monitor the volcano and will issue daily updates until further notice. Subscribe to these messages: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vns2/.
Summary of volcanic eruption hazards
Vog: High levels of volcanic gas—primarily water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)—are the primary hazard of concern down-wind from the eruption, as the visible haze known as vog (volcanic smog). More info: Vog Information Dashboard | IVHHN
Glass: Pele’s hair* and other lightweight volcanic glass fragments from the lava fountains that fall downwind of the fissure vents or taken greater distances by strong winds. Residents and visitors should minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation.
Instability: Other significant hazards crater wall instability, ground cracking, and rockfalls. This underscores the extremely hazardous nature of Kīlauea caldera rim surrounding Halemaʻumaʻu crater, an area that has been closed to the public since late 2007.
* Pele’s hair: What appear to be golden mats of hair gathered on the ground near the eruption site are thin glass fibers known as Pele’s hair, named after Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. The fragile strands are formed by gas during a volcanic eruption. Strands of Pele’s hair may be up to a couple feet long, but only one micron (.001 mm) thick—by comparison, human hair is 70 microns, household dust is 40 microns, and white blood cells are 25 microns. Objects 40 microns or larger are visible to the naked eye.
Because these volcanic glass strands are so light, they can become airborne and carried by the wind to accumulate in low-lying areas, forming dense mats many inches deep. As tiny pieces of glass, they can become lodged in human skin and much worse, eyes. Caution around the fibers is necessary to avoid injury.
World Heritage Site
Established on August 1, 1916, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park reflects Hawaiʻi’s geological, biological, and cultural heritage. Powerful volcanic forces create new land and many distinct plant and animals in the park’s seven ecological zones have adapted to the unique and challenging landscape. The park also protects many archeological sites important to Native Hawaiian culture.
In recognition of its outstanding value, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987 (Hawaii’s first) as well as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980.
Visiting Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park’s 333,086 acres extend 13,677 feet to sea level. The park encompasses the summits and rift zones of two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984. Kīlauea has been in nearly continuous eruption since 1983.
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including all holidays. All visitors at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park are required to pay an entrance fee.
- Location: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is located on the island of Hawai‘i, about 45 minutes southwest of Hilo (via highway 11), about 2-2.5 hours southeast of Kailua-Kona (via highway 11) and 2 hours southeast of Waikoloa (via highway 200). There is no shuttle bus or public transportation within the park. Ride sharing companies will often not come to the park for pick-up.
- Passes: If you already have a valid, America the Beautiful—National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass, or Hawaiʻi Annual Tri-Park Pass, you are not required to purchase a pass. More info: Entrance Passes (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
- Fees: Private Vehicle$30.00. Motorcycle$25.00. Per Person$15.00. More info: Fees & Passes – Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
Visiting the park by car is easy to do. All roads in the park are two-wheel drive roadways and do not require four-wheel drive vehicles. The two main roads are Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road. Start your visit at the Kīlauea Visitor Center located just beyond the park’s entrance station on the right. Here, you will receive the latest information on trails, ranger-led activities, road conditions, and safety precautions.
Brief highlights of a driving tour
Note: Nēnē (the Hawaiian goose) is an endangered species that needs your protection. Watch for nene on roads. Cars are the leading cause of adult nene deaths in the park. DO NOT FEED the nēnē. Nene that are fed by visitors learn to beg for food and approach moving cars.
Turn right at the park entrance and drive to Uēkahuna at the end of Crater Rim Drive. An important site for Native Hawaiian ritual and cultural practices, it is the celebrated wahi pana (legendary place) of Kaluapele, the caldera of Kīlauea. Uēkahuna aʻu crater underwent a massive collapse during the history-making eruption of 2018. As the highest point on the rim, it presents visitors with spectacular vistas of Kaluapele, Mauna Loa, and surrounding areas. Closer to the visitor center, the Kīlauea Overlook provides dramatic views of Kaluapele and Halemaʻum. Round-trip takes at least an hour with a couple of short sightseeing stops.
In the opposite direction, about 3 miles to the left of the visitor center, begins Chain of Craters Road. Be sure to check conditions before you set out on the 19-mile drive, which can be spectacular (or hazardous). No food, water, or fuel is currently available along the road. The dramatic drive begins in a rain forest and descends approximately 3,700 feet through the East Rift passing several craters and old lava flows, ending at Holei Sea Arch on the coast. Plan on at least two hours round-trip, including a couple of scenic stops.
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Events from our calendar
Listed below are events on our calendar across the Hawaiian Islands for the next 30 days.
Tuesday, September 26, 2023