Volcano Watch: Comparing today’s Kilauea summit lava lake with past observations

Summit tiltmeter data (green) shown against lava lake level (blue). The top panel is for the time period 12/1/2017–1/30/2018 and is representative of the “old” lava lake. For this panel, lake level was retrieved from thermal camera images, hence it is given in units of “pixels.” The bottom panel is from 1/15/2022–2/15/2022; in this case, the lake level is determined from a laser rangefinder and is presented as variations around its average level in meters. Note that in the bottom panel, the lake level graph has also been detrended to control for its steady rise. The bars at the bottom of the bottom panel show examples of eruption pause durations (red bars) and times during which inflation has recommenced, but eruption has not yet (black bars). USGS plots.

The Feb. 3 installment of “Volcano Watch” introduced some of the data streams that are used to monitor eruption pauses and renewals at Kilauea’s summit, including ground tilt from borehole tiltmeters. Tilt data also provided valuable insight into the behavior of the lava lake that occupied Halemaʻumaʻu crater from 2008-18, before the series of collapses in 2018 changed Kilauea’s summit topography.