Where is the Lava?
Hawaii Eruption Tracker & Updates
Kilauea volcano is not currently erupting
Last Updated: September 4, 2023
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.
The top photo above is a USGS photo of the current Kilauea Eruption.
Kilauea Eruption Updates
Last Eruption Activity: June 2023
Lava had returned to Halemaumau Crater in HVNP
- See our 'What's Happening on Kilauea Now' section for current information on the Kilauea eruption.
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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.
Kilauea & Volcanoes National Park Lava Viewing Guide
- Timeline of Events:
- Mauna Loa Eruption Updates - after 38 years, Mauna Loa erupted in late 2022
- Hike to the lava yourself
- Or check our recommendations for Guided Kilauea Tours
- Helicopter tours over the volcano
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Maps
Separately, don't forget to review our Hawaii Safety Guide for the Volcano Area (and other important Hawaii safety tips).
What's Happening Now at Kilauea?
Periodic Kilauea Eruption; Volcano is currently inactive
Kilauea Eruption Timeline
Kilauea is no longer erupting. Lava supply to the Halema'uma'u lava lake ceased on June 19 based on lava lake levels and the behavior of the crater floor. Sulfur dioxide emissions have decreased to near pre-eruption background levels.
The last three eruptions which ended in June 2023, March 2023, and in early December 2022 respectively, were each similar to the preceding recent Kilauea eruption, which was also confined to Halema'uma'u crater and generated a lava lake; from December 2020 to May 2021. More information and a timeline of Kilauea's historical events (including the current eruption, when applicable) are included below.
Current Kilauea Conditions Summary*
At this time, Kilauea is no longer erupting. Lava supply to the Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake paused on June 19, 2023, based on lava lake levels and the behavior of the crater floor. Kilauea could begin erupting again at any time, however.
HVO continues to closely monitor Kilauea for signs of renewed activity. Should volcanic activity change significantly a new Volcanic Activity Notice will be issued.
Activity Summary: Current conditions, updated daily, can be found on the USGS site.
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 (Facebook, Instagram, 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.
Big Island Volcano Tour Suggestions
Noteworthy Events at Kilauea Volcano
Click any link below to learn more...
- June 2023 Eruption - lava returned to Halemaumau crater
- January - March 2023 Eruption - eruption activity resumed within Halemaumau
- 2021-2022 Eruption - additional summit activity in Halemaumau
- 2020-2021 Eruption - Lava returned to Halemaumau
- 2019 Eruption - Lava Lake Developed in Halemaumau Crater
- 2018 Eruption - Significant event in the East Rift Zone
- Previous Historic Eruptions
This section will be updated accordingly.
Eruption resumes again in Halemaumau Crater
June 2023 Eruption
At approximately 4:44 a.m. HST on June 7, 2023, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory detected glow in Kilauea summit webcam images indicating that an eruption had commenced within Halema'uma'u crater in Kilauea's summit caldera, within Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
This summit eruption event at Kīlauea volcano ended on June 19, 2023.
We will continue to post updates above, on this page as eruption(s) continue.
Kilauea June 2023 Eruption Photos
Eruption resumes in Halemaumau Crater
January 2023 - March 2023 Eruption
Kilauea volcano was previously erupting. At approximately 4:34 p.m. HST on January 5, 2023, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory detected a glow in Kilauea's summit webcam images, indicating that the eruption had resumed within Halemaʻumaʻu crater in Kilauea's summit caldera, within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
This eruption concluded on March 7, 2023.
Kilauea Early 2023 Eruption Photos
More activity in Halemaumau Crater
September 2021 - December 2022 Eruption
The 2021-2022 eruption within Halemaumau Crater started about 20 minutes after 3 p.m. Wednesday - September 29, 2021; all lava was confined within the crater. The eruption came after a day of increased earthquake activity at the volcano and summit.
The eruption from September 2021 - December 2022 was confined to Halemaumau crater, within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. As of December 9, 2022, Kilauea was no longer erupting. Lava supply to the Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake ceased based on lava lake levels and the behavior of the crater floor.
At the time of the last eruption, HVO did not see any indication of activity migrating elsewhere on Kilauea volcano and expects the eruption to remain confined to the summit region.
Kilauea summit eruptions over the past 200 years have lasted from less than a day to more than a decade.
The eruption slowed in early December 2022, coinciding, but likely unrelated to, the eruption of neighboring Mauna Loa. As of approximately December 9, 2022, Kilauea was no longer erupting.
Lava returns to Halemaumau Crater
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
Mauna Loa Eruption
Mauna Loa Eruption Updates
Last Activity: November 2022 - December 2022
After 38 years, Mauna Loa briefly erupted
- Mauna Loa, the world's largest volcano, which had been rumbling since mid-September 2022, erupted from late November until mid-December 2022.
- Check out some great USGS photos of the 2022 Mauna Loa Eruption
- View the USGS eruption map for a visualization of the eruption location
- See our 'What's Happening on Mauna Loa' section below for current information.
The Mauna Loa volcano, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, recently erupted on Sunday - November 27, 2022. The eruption, which was the first in nearly 40 years, was relatively small and caused no damage to nearby communities or infrastructure. The eruption was preceded by several weeks of increasing seismic activity, as well as ground deformation and elevated sulfur dioxide emissions. The HVO had placed the volcano on "watch" status shortly before the eruption, indicating an eruption was likely. As of December 11, 2022, the eruption has concluded.
As noted above, the eruption was relatively small, and no evacuations were necessary. No major highways were damaged, though initial concerns were that Saddle Road (Daniel K. Inouye Highway) might be impacted. Fortunately, it never was impacted by the lava flows. The lava flow was not close enough to any populated areas or infrastructure to cause any damage.
The recent eruption is a reminder of the power and unpredictability of volcanoes. Mauna Loa is one of five active/dormant volcanoes in the Hawaiian Islands and is the largest active volcano on Earth.
Latest Mauna Loa Developments
Updates provided by the USGS
Current daily updates on the status of the Mauna Loa Eruption can be found on the USGS website.