Hawaii Eruption Information

Big Island Lava Viewing Guide - Where is the lava located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park?

Lava Viewing Guide

Big Island Lava Flow

Where is the Lava?

Hawaii Eruption Updates for 2022

Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes are both erupting
Last Updated: December 7, 2022

If you're heading to Hawaii's Big Island, then one of the first questions you may have is, 'Where is the lava? I want to see lava! Wait, or is it magma?' First, yes, typically, it's lava you're looking for - lava is anything that's erupted from the volcano (to the surface), and it comes in two flavors, Pahoehoe and A`a. You can read more about the two lava types on our Hawaii Geology page. If it's still within the volcano, it's known as magma.

Photo above is a USGS photo by M. Patrick

Mauna Loa Eruption Updates

November 2022 - December 2022

After 38 years, Mauna Loa has started erupting again...

Kilauea Eruption Updates

September 2021 - December 2022

Lava has Returned to Halemaumau Crater in HVNP
  • At this time, ACTIVE flows are now occurring inside Halemaumau Crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. 
  • See our 'What's Happening on Kilauea Now' section for current information on the Kilauea eruption.

Locating the Lava Flows

Now, to answer the question of 'where.' Well, the answer to that question depends on the mood of Pele (the Hawaiian Volcano Goddess). And Madame Pele is very unpredictable.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day, so your chance to see glowing lava (from near or far) is pretty good when the volcano is actively erupting (it's periodically erupting only at the summit in Halemaumau currently), especially when it's dark. Just look for the red glow. As always, the Park Rangers at the entry station are your best guide to current conditions - we advise all visitors to check in with them before exploring the park. 

Ultimately, in our opinion, even if you don't get to see any flowing lava in person, which you might not currently, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the Big Island are well worth the time. 

— article continued below —

Kilauea & Volcanoes National Park Lava Viewing Guide

Separately, don't forget to review our Hawaii Safety Guide for the Volcano Area (and other important Hawaii safety tips).

Hawaiian Islands Volcanoes

Hawaii Island Volcanoes (click to view entire chain)

Mauna Loa Eruption

What's currently happening?

According to the U.S. Geological Service (USGS), on the night of Sunday - November 27, 2022, an eruption began in the summit caldera of Hawaii's Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano.
 

This eruption is ongoing, and conditions may change rapidly... we'll update this page accordingly.

See the USGS eruption map for visualization the current eruption location or view these incredible USGS photos of the Mauna Loa eruption.

Latest Mauna Loa Developments
Updates provided by the USGS

As of December 7, 2022, the Northeast Rift Zone eruption of Mauna Loa continues. One active fissure, fissure 3, is feeding a lava flow advancing slowly northward toward the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road). The lava flow has reached relatively flat ground causing it to slow down significantly over the past several days, as expected.    

As of 6:00 a.m. today, December 7, the flow front was about 1.8 mi (2.9 km) from the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road). The flow advanced only a small distance since midnight, possibly due to a significant breakout removing lava from the channel about 2.8 mi (4.5 km) behind the tip of the main flow on the east side. During the past 24 hours, the main flow has advanced at an average rate slower than 20 feet (6 meters) per hour. The lava flow remains active and is continuously supplied from the fissure 3 vent.  HVO crews have installed a new webcam to view the front of the main flow https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/m9cam-mauna-loa-fissure-3-eruption-northeast-rift-zone     

Advance rates may be highly variable over the coming days and weeks. On the flat ground between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, lava flows advance more slowly, spread out, and inflate. Individual lobes may advance quickly and then stall. Additional breakouts may occur if lava channels get blocked upslope. There are many variables at play, and both the direction and timing of flow advances are expected to change over periods of hours to days, making it difficult to estimate when or if the flow will impact Daniel K. Inouye Highway.  

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates of approximately 120,000 tonnes per day (t/d) were measured on December 4, 2022, and remain elevated at this time. The International Volcanic Health Hazard Network has detailed information about vog: https://vog.ivhhn.org/. Forecasts for the dispersion of vog can be found on the Mauna Loa Vog Forecasting Dashboard: https://vog.ivhhn.org/content/mauna-loa-eruption 

Pele's hair (strands of volcanic glass) fragments are being wafted great distances and have been reported as far as Laupāhoehoe.  

Tremor (a signal associated with subsurface fluid movement) continues beneath the active fissures. This indicates that magma is still being supplied to the fissure, and activity is likely to continue as long as we see this signal. 

There is no active lava within the Moku'āweoweo caldera nor the Southwest Rift Zone. We do not expect any eruptive activity outside the Northeast Rift Zone.

Mauna Loa Eruption Maps

USGS Mauna Loa eruption map

USGS Mauna Loa eruption map

USGS & NPS Mauna Loa eruption overview map as of December 5, 2022 (click to enlarge)

USGS & NPS Mauna Loa eruption overview map as of December 5, 2022 (click to enlarge)

Latest Mauna Loa Advisories
  • RECOMMENDED SITES TO VIEW THE ERUPTION ­– For the first time since 1984, Kīlauea and Maunaloa are erupting side-by-side which is expected to draw an influx of visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (HVNP) who hope to see this rare event. HVNP launched a new “Eruption Viewing” page on its website – which provides recommendations for safe viewing.

    Lava from Kīlauea and a night glow from Maunaloa are currently visible from many areas and overlooks surrounding Kaluapele (Kīlauea caldera) within the park. All visitors are reminded that viewing conditions can change at any time depending on eruptive activity and weather conditions such as fog or rain.

    Consider factors such as viewing experience, long waits and crowds, hiking ability, and available time when selecting where to view the eruption. Check out the park map and download the new NPS mobile app to help you navigate during your visit.
  • NO STOPPING OR PARKING ON DANIEL K. INOUYE HIGHWAY BETWEEN MILE MARKER 16 AND 31 – Hawai‘i County issued a supplemental emergency proclamation on November 28, 2022 at 9:25 p.m. stating that due to eruption activity and spectator interest creating road hazards on Daniel K. Inouye Highway (DKI), it is “prohibiting all vehicles from stopping and/or parking on Daniel K. Inouye Highway at any time between the sixteen mile marker (16MM) and the thirty-one mile marker (31 MM), except as permitted at designated parking lots.”
  • MAUNALOA ROAD REMAINS CLOSED FROM KĪPUKAPUAULU TO THE SUMMIT CALDERA – The main section of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park remains open. For notices from Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, click here.
  • TRAFFIC HAZARD MITIGATION ROUTE OPENS – Hawai‘i County Mayor Mitch Roth announced on Thursday, December 1 that a traffic hazard mitigation route (THMR) along the Daniel K. Inouye Highway was opened to help relieve growing safety concerns due to increased traffic as a result of the ongoing Maunaloa eruption.
  • The one-way (eastbound) THMR utilizes the old Saddle Road with the entrance located directly across from the Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area. The route spans 4.5 miles from the entryway to a junction point located just before Puʻuhuluhulu.
  • The THMR is for passenger vehicles only. Commercial vehicles are prohibited from entering the THMR. Parking will only be allowed on the right side of the THMR for lava viewing and no vehicle can remain in the area for more than 90 minutes. 
  • Motorists are still asked to drive with extreme caution, as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway and the THMR will remain busy through the eruption. The Gilbert Kahele Recreational Area, including restroom facilities, will remain open 24-hours a day until further notice.
Lava channel on Dec 4th - USGS

Lava channel on Dec 4th - USGS

Mauna Loa Fissure 3 - Dec 4th - USGS

Mauna Loa Fissure 3 - Dec 4th - USGS

Closeup View of Fissure 3 Mauna Loa - December 1st. Credit: USGS

Closeup View of Fissure 3 Mauna Loa - December 1st. Credit: USGS

Fissure 3 on Mauna Loa's Northeast Rift Zone - December 1st. Credit: USGS

Fissure 3 on Mauna Loa's Northeast Rift Zone - December 1st. Credit: USGS

Mauna Loa eruption on Nov. 30th - Credit: USGS

Mauna Loa eruption on Nov. 30th - Credit: USGS

Mauna Loa eruption on Nov. 30th - Credit: USGS

Mauna Loa eruption on Nov. 30th - Credit: USGS

Mauna Loa Lava Fountains - USGS

Mauna Loa Lava Fountains - USGS

Northeast Rift Zone Eruption - USGS

Northeast Rift Zone Eruption - USGS

Mauna Loa Eruption - USGS

Mauna Loa Eruption - USGS

Mauna Loa Lava Fountaining - USGS

Mauna Loa Lava Fountaining - USGS

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has previously sent out an email reminding visitors that, "Hawaii is a dynamic place with ever-changing landscapes and natural environments." The HTA noted that they are continuing to monitor the recent seismic activity occurring at Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano. Small to moderate earthquakes have been a regular occurrence on Mauna Loa since mid-September 2022.

Recent news of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) monitoring Maunaloa is no reason for travelers to alter their travel plans to the Big Island of Hawaii or any of the smaller Hawaiian Islands at this time. More information in our updated FAQ below.

HVO continues to monitor any changes, issuing daily updates until further notice, and additional messages will be issued as needed. Visitors who have questions about Mauna Loa can visit the USGS website for the latest information.

Mauna Loa Eruption FAQ

The Hawaii Tourism Authority and HVCB have provided the following information.

Q: Should travel plans to the Hawaiian Islands be postponed or canceled?

A: No need to change travel plans to any Hawaiian Islands, at this time. Maunaloa is located on Hawai‘i Island, the southernmost island of the main island chain. Travel to the other islands – Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i, and Lāna‘i – is unaffected by the eruption.

Q: Should travel plans to Hawai‘i Island be re-routed to the other islands?

A:  There is no need to change travel plans to Hawaiʻi Island at this time. While the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirms that lava has exited Maunaloa summit and can be seen on the northeast flank, this is not a populated area and does not pose a threat to any communities at this time.

While the eruption has caused Maunaloa’s Aviation Color Code to be elevated to red – which means a hazardous eruption is imminent, underway or suspected – Hawai‘i Island’s two major airports in Hilo and Kona are currently open and the eruption is not expected to affect their ability to handle the regularly scheduled flights that arrive and depart each day. It’s a good idea to check with your airline for the status of your flight.

Q: Is this eruption a danger to people on Hawai‘i Island?

A:  As of 6:30 a.m. on November 28, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirms that lava has exited the Maunaloa summit and can be seen on the northeast flank. The northeast flank is not populated and does not threaten any communities at this time.

Residents and visitors staying in communities downslope of Maunaloa should have emergency preparedness plans ready in the event an evacuation becomes necessary.

Visitors staying in short-term vacation rentals should contact their hosts for more information. The major resort areas of Kailua-Kona, the Kohala Coast, and Hilo are not immediately downslope of the eruption.

Q: Is there a danger to people with breathing problems from the ash emitted by the eruption?

A:  People who suffer from asthma, emphysema, COPD, or other types of breathing problems should take precautions to avoid the ash and vog that are characteristic of volcanic eruptions. This would include either staying indoors or monitoring how the wind is blowing so as not to be caught in an area where ash and vog are heavy and could impair the ability to breathe normally.

Q:  Is this eruption of Maunaloa unusual?

A: While Hawai‘i Island is the youngest and most active of the Hawaiian Islands in terms of volcanic activity, eruptions are rare. The last time Maunaloa erupted was 38 years ago in 1984. The island’s most recent eruption took place in 2018 when Kīlauea Volcano erupted and lava flowed for several months.

Q: Where can people find the latest information and updates on the eruption?

A:  Official channels are the best sources for the latest updates about the Maunaloa eruption, including the following:

2021-2022 Kilauea summit eruption

Kilauea 2021-2022 Summit Eruption

What's Happening Now at Kilauea?

Current Ongoing Kilauea Eruption

Kilauea volcano, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is currently erupting at its summit - flooding the floor of Halemaumau Crater with fresh lava flows. Current conditions are additionally included below. We've also included updates on the news breaking Mauna Loa eruption above.

Kilauea Eruption Timeline

The latest eruption within Halemaumau Crater started about 20 minutes after 3 p.m. Wednesday - September 29, 2021; currently, all lava is confined within the crater. The eruption came after a day of increased earthquake activity at the volcano and summit.

The eruption is confined to Halemaumau crater, within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  HVO does not see any indication of activity migrating elsewhere on Kilauea volcano  and expects the eruption to remain confined to the summit region.

The last eruption at Kilauea ended in May (see below) after an explosive beginning five months earlier in December 2020. It is unclear how long the current eruption will continue. Kilauea summit eruptions over the past 200 years have lasted from less than a day to more than a decade. This ongoing eruption is similar to the most recent Kilauea eruption, which was also confined to Halemaʻumaʻu crater and generated a lava lake; the most recent eruption lasted approximately five months, from December 2020 to May 2021. 

Current Kilauea Conditions Summary*

If you're currently on the Big Island, this is a great time to witness the glow of an eruption up close on the summit; as usual, nighttime viewing is best. Dress accordingly, as it's 4,000+ ft in elevation at the summit of Kilauea, and it can get fairly chilly after dark. Below we've also covered What you can see during both the daytime and at night. We visited in late August 2022, and the volcano was putting on a show. Views of the Milky Way are also incredible from and on the hike out to the lookout. Crowds peak around 7:30-8:00 pm, but by 10:00 pm, most of the lava spectators had left for the night.

Activity Summary: Current conditions, updated daily, can be found on the USGS site.

*Activity Summary, Summit Observations, and Lava Lake Observations courtesy of the USGS and/or NPS

What can you see in the day?

  • Visitors arriving at HVNP during the day can view the volcanic gas and steam from the eruption within Halemaʻumaʻu crater. Koaʻekea (white-tailed tropicbirds) are often observed flying above the crater.
  • The eruption is visible from Kaluapele, the summit caldera, along open areas of the rim. Lava fountains are only visible from the south caldera rim near Keanakākoʻi Overlook. Avoid crowds and traffic by visiting this overlook during the day.
  • Weather conditions such as fog and rain may obscure eruption views at any time. Be prepared.

What can you see at night?

  • The massive lava lake consisting of molten rock casts an incredible reddish-orange glow into the surrounding dark sky. The glow reflects onto the gas plume wafting out of the volcano, and to any clouds above Halemaʻumaʻu crater. The jagged crater walls are additionally illuminated, showcasing the scars dating to the 2018 summit collapse.
  • The bursting spatter cone and lava lake is visible from the south rim along Old Crater Rim Drive after a moderate (roughly one-mile from the nearest parking lot) hike over a paved (former Crater Rim Drive) highway; though some off-road walking is required to get to the final overlook (roughly 300ft off the pavement). For easier viewing, the lava lake is occasionally visible from Kīlauea Overlook, and along Crater Rim Trail near that area.
  • Bring a flashlight during your visit! Weather conditions such as fog and rain may obscure eruption views.
Halemaumau as seen from Keanakako'i Overlook in late August 2022

Halemaumau as seen from Keanakako'i Overlook in late August 2022

Potential Hazards: This new eruption at Kilauea's summit is occurring within a closed area of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Therefore, high levels of volcanic gas are the primary hazard of concern, as this hazard can have far-reaching effects downwind. Large amounts of volcanic gas—primarily water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)—are continuously released during the eruptions of Kilauea Volcano. As SO2 is released from the summit, it reacts in the atmosphere to create the visible haze known as vog (volcanic smog) that has been observed downwind of Kīlauea. Click here to also view the latest Vog report for the Big Island of Hawaii.

View from the Keanakako'i Overlook. Credit: NPS Photo/J.Wei

View from the Keanakako'i Overlook. Credit: NPS Photo/J.Wei

September 29th 2021 Eruption at Halemaumau Crater (Credit: USGS)

September 29th 2021 Eruption at Halemaumau Crater (Credit: USGS)

Eruption in Halemaumau Crater (Credit: USGS)

Eruption in Halemaumau Crater (Credit: USGS)

Two of the many spattering sources within Halemaumau (Credit: USGS)

Two of the many spattering sources within Halemaumau (Credit: USGS)

Follow HVNP for additional updates

This situation is rapidly evolving and the Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory will continue to issue statements when more information is available to the public. For now, you can receive ongoing eruption updates by following the social media accounts of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (FacebookInstagram, and Twitter).

  • View the live cameras located at the Kilauea summit.
  • Additional updates can be found on the Hawaii Volcanoes National park website.
  • Animated GIF of the latest webcam footage from the current eruption

Additional video footage and imagery, of the current eruption at Halemaumau Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, can be found below.

HVNP Lava Lake Map

Lava lake statistics through May 7, 2021 (Click for full size) - via USGS

Lava returns to Halemaumau Crater

September 2021 - Ongoing 2022 Eruption

As noted above, this eruption began on September 29, 2021. We will continue to post updates above, on this page as the eruption continues. This section will be updated accordingly.

December 2020 - May 2021 Eruption

After the huge changes that occurred with the 2018 eruption and subsequent summit collapse, some had speculated that Kilauea would not erupt for a significant period of time. Pele had other plans, however.

At approximately 9:30 p.m. HST on Sunday - December 20, 2020, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) detected a new glow within the Halemaumau crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano.

Within Halemaumau, an eruption had commenced at Kilauea's summit caldera. Previously, as noted below the caldera had been filling with a green-ish water lake, but that quickly disappeared, as lava has once again made an appearance inside of the crater. Within one week, what had been a history-making lake of water was replaced by a nearly 600-foot deep lake of molten lava.

  • Animated GIF of eruption first occurring on December 20, 2020

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake additionally hit about an hour after the volcano began erupting. By the morning of 12/21/20, two of the three initial fissure vents on the wall of the Halemaumau crater were feeding a growing lava lake.

The eruption paused in late May 2021, after several months of activity in the Halemaumau crater.



 

2020-2021 Eruption Images

Halemaumau Crater at Kilauea Volcano
Credit: USGS/M. Patrick

Credit: USGS/M. Patrick

Credit: NPS/A. LaValle

Credit: NPS/A. LaValle

Credit: NPS/J. Wei

Credit: NPS/J. Wei

Credit: NPS/A. LaValle

Credit: NPS/A. LaValle

Development of Water Lake in 2019

On August 1, 2019, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) scientists confirmed a growing pond of water in the recently enlarged Halemumau crater. Initially, it appeared as small, separate turquoise ponds, but over time, the small ponds united and began to grow dramatically. For a period of time, the depth of the growing lake was increasing several inches per day.

In the space of just over one year's time, a persistent lake of lava had vanished in a dramatic collapse, only to be replaced by the first lake of water to be recorded at Kilauea in modern history.

Over the course of its relatively short lifespan, the lake grew to be approximately 160 feet (49 m) deep. That's taller than a 10-story building, for reference. The lake also changed color due to the precipitation of iron-sulfate minerals and SO2 being dissolved into the water.

2018 East Rift Zone Eruption

Kilauea caldera has undergone a tremendous amount of change over the last decade, and prior to the eruption in December 2020, had not been very active since 2018. See the maps immediately below to get an idea of how volatile the years between 2009 and 2018 were at the park or explore this geo-narrative by the USGS about the 2018 eruption.

In the first days of May 2018, the lava lake that had existed in Halemaumau crater for almost a decade began to drain away. Magma moved from the summit of Kilauea to the Lower East Rift Zone, marked by a series of earthquakes. On May 3rd, the first fissures opened up in the subdivision of Leilani Estates and the massive eruption of 2018 began to unfold in lower Puna.

With less magma left to support the summit, the Halemaumau crater began to collapse. Every 28 hours, on average, the ground within the summit caldera of Kilauea sank with dramatic collapse events. By the end of the 2018 eruption, the Halemaumau crater had sunk by 1,600 feet (488m), and its diameter more than doubled.

Halemaumau Crater Changes from 2009 to 2018. Provided by the USGS.

Halemaumau Crater Changes from 2009 to 2018. Provided by the USGS.

2018 Eruption - Source: USGS

2018 Eruption - Source: USGS

Activity circa 2018 East Rift Zone Eruption

Prior to 2018, you could just as easily have witnessed lava flows chewing on Chain of Craters Road as you could view a steam plume from afar. Kilauea is a living, breathing volcano with a mind of its own.

Kilauea's oldest lava flows are dated between 210,000 and 280,000 years ago. Those flows are considered generally young, geologically speaking, for an active volcano.

For the last one thousand years, Kilauea's ongoing eruptions have dramatically shaped the southeast portion of the Big Island of Hawaii. 

The most recent 100 years of volcanic activity at Kilauea can be divided into seven distinct eruptions.

Summaries are provided below from the USGS website:

Hike to Lava on Big Island

Hiking to Lava

Lava Viewing Guide

Hiking to Lava

Check THIS SITE for updates on lava flows and Kilauea activity. We've also included some maps below to generally help provide you an overview of the park and where the lava might be located during your visit. Just remember, this is an active living and breathing volcano and things regularly change, the maps are always out of date for that reason to some extent.

If the flows have recently been near the surface within the Park and IF it's safe to access (check with the Rangers), it's pretty easy to locate the lava yourself - so don't feel like you HAVE to join a tour to experience a lava flow. Before heading out, be sure you've prepared accordingly - dress appropriately with the right footwear for your adventure; be sure to keep water with you at all times, it can be easy to get dehydrated on the lava fields. Sunscreen is also your best friend on this part of the island.

As always, remember that lava flows outside the Park's boundary are on private property and you should not explore these locations without a guide who has permission to properly access the property.

Kilauea Volcano Tours

Our recommendation for Kilauea & lava tours is to contact Scott and Becky at The Volcano Van. They offer amazing tours of Kilauea, including several tours that depart from Kona.

Volcano Helicopter Tours

View Lava from Above

Helicopter Volcano Tours

Another great option is to take a helicopter tour over Pu`u O`o for a look into the bowels of the earth. While that too could change tomorrow, as lava has a mind of its own - a helicopter tour is your BEST opportunity to see lava.

Our recommendation for helicopters tours is to fly with Safari Helicopters. They have some amazing tours over the volcano that are perfect for experiecing Kilauea from above.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Overview Maps

 ~ Click to enlarge any map ~
Crater Rim Drive (before the 2008-2018 summit eruption)

Crater Rim Drive (before the 2008-2018 summit eruption)

HVNP Overview (showing lava flows through 2010)

HVNP Overview (showing lava flows through 2010)

2018 Lava Flow in Puna

2018 Lava Flow in Puna

Napau Crater Trail

Napau Crater Trail

Hawaii Eruption Information Photo Gallery
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