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Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Eruption Creates 600-Foot-Deep Lava Lake

Gas and steam erupt from the Halemaumau crater of the Kilauea volcano on Dec. 21 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Gas and steam erupt from the Halemaumau crater of the Kilauea volcano on Dec. 21 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

On Hawaii's Big Island, Kilauea volcano erupted Dec. 20 for the first time in more than two years.

Lava spewed from a fissure in the northwest wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater and cascaded into the deepest part of the crater, boiling away a water lake. There's now a growing lava lake, nearly 600 feet deep.

The U.S. Geological Survey has been documenting the eruption. Here, in photos and video, is how Kilauea's newest eruption is continuing — and changing the landscape.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

At 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 20 an eruption began in the walls of Halemaʻumaʻu crater, vaporizing the lake. This is what the lake looked like at 5:57 p.m. before the eruption.
/ USGS
At 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 20 an eruption began in the walls of Halemaʻumaʻu crater, vaporizing the lake. This is what the lake looked like at 5:57 p.m. before the eruption.
Sunrise at the new eruption site in Kīlauea caldera on Dec. 21.
/ USGS
Sunrise at the new eruption site in Kīlauea caldera on Dec. 21.
An aerial view of the Kilauea summit shows the eruption from a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory overflight at approximately 11:20 a.m. on Dec. 21. The two active fissure locations continue to feed lava into the growing lava lake.
/ USGS
An aerial view of the Kilauea summit shows the eruption from a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory overflight at approximately 11:20 a.m. on Dec. 21. The two active fissure locations continue to feed lava into the growing lava lake.
As of about 8 a.m. on Dec. 23, crews note that the Kilauea summit lava lake depth is more than triple that of the water lake that existed in the crater until the evening of Dec. 20, when it was vaporized.
H. Dietterich / USGS
As of about 8 a.m. on Dec. 23, crews note that the Kilauea summit lava lake depth is more than triple that of the water lake that existed in the crater until the evening of Dec. 20, when it was vaporized.
Fissures in the wall of Halemaʻumaʻu fed a lava lake that continued to fill the crater. After 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 24, the water lake had been replaced by a lava lake.
/ USGS
Fissures in the wall of Halemaʻumaʻu fed a lava lake that continued to fill the crater. After 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 24, the water lake had been replaced by a lava lake.
Several small channels continue to feed the lava lake within Halema'uma'u crater from the western fissure vents on Dec. 26.
/ USGS
Several small channels continue to feed the lava lake within Halema'uma'u crater from the western fissure vents on Dec. 26.
Dec. 31, 2020: The west vent area in Halema'uma'u wall continues to feed Kīlauea's summit lava lake.
M. Patrick / USGS
Dec. 31, 2020: The west vent area in Halema'uma'u wall continues to feed Kīlauea's summit lava lake.
Dec. 31, 2020: Kīlauea's summit eruption in Halema'uma'u continued overnight.
M. Patrick / USGS
Dec. 31, 2020: Kīlauea's summit eruption in Halema'uma'u continued overnight.