Volcano Watch: A forgotten collapse of Halema‘uma‘u crater on June 5-7, 1916

View of the walls of Halema‘uma‘u during the crater collapse of June 5, 1916, looking northeast from the south side of the crater. The lava lake is visible at the lower left, and the outer crater walls are at the top. The crater rim is just out of frame to the top. Within the crater is a bench of lake overflows that marks earlier high-lava levels before the lake began draining; this surface of this bench sat nearly 300 feet below the crater rim. A substantial section of the bench has recently collapsed (with a dashed white line marking its former trace), littering talus debris around the edge of the lava lake and exposing the outer crater wall that was previously buried. (USGS image/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Last month, a “Volcano Watch” article highlighted a lesser-known Mauna Loa eruption that ended May 31, 1916. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) staff had to make a quick turnaround a week later when Kilauea Volcano’s Halema‘uma‘u crater began to subside. A series of collapse events took place from June 5-7, 1916, and observers described it as one of the most spectacular occurrences they had ever witnessed at Kilauea.