Senior Editor
Staff

You have surely by now seen the torrents lava flowing over Hawaii’s Big Island. They’ve burned homes and buried bays, creating poisonous steam and releasing toxic gasses. It’s all very apocalyptic, and as devastating as much of it is, Kilauea’s eruption has produced some absolutely stunning footage.

Advertisement

Halema’uma’u crater, which sits at the very top of Kilauea, used to be something out of super-villain movie. A lake of lava filled it, bubbling and boiling away while tourists and researchers look at it with wonder. Since the eruptions began back at the end of May, however, things have changed significantly up there. For starters, it’s getting way bigger, both in depth and in width. The edges of the crater are collapsing rapidly and the deepest part is now 1,000 feet down.

The lava lake that used to sit there drained, which as you might imagine, weakened the entire volcano. Massive chunks of it began to fall inward, which blocked the escape of steam. The magma reservoir beneath Kilauea is being depleted, and since it bears the weight above it, the entire summit of the mountain is collapsing. “The magma pressure at the summit is very low – this is why the summit is deflating and slumping,” the USGS explained.

Newsletter

Only the best. We promise.

Contribute

Join our community of contributors.

Apply