New Eruption at Kilauea Volcano Summit

Kilauea Volcano started a new eruption last night, December 20, 2020. The new eruption is ongoing and things could rapidly change. More photos and other images below the attached press release. All photos and images appearing in this entry are in the public domain from the USGS Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory.

Kilauea Volcano Eruption 12-20-20
Kilauea Volcano Eruption 12-20-20 – HVO personnel take measurements at Kilauea’s summit.

U.S. Geological Survey
Sunday, December 20, 2020, 11:38 PM HST (Monday, December 21, 2020, 09:38 UTC)

19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WARNING
Current Aviation Color Code: RED


The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded a magnitude-4.4 earthquake located beneath Kīlauea Volcano’s south flank on Sunday, December 20, at 10:36 p.m. HST.

The earthquake was centered about 14 km (8.7 miles) south of Fern Forest, near the Hōlei Pali area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at a depth of 6 km (4 miles). A map showing its location is posted on the HVO website at More details are available at the National Earthquake Information Center website at

Weak to light shaking, with maximum Intensity of IV, has been reported across the Island of Hawai‘i. At that intensity, significant damage to buildings or structures is not expected. The USGS “Did you feel it?” service ( received over 500 felt reports within the first hour of the earthquake.

According to HVO acting Scientist-in-Charge David Phillips, “HVO continues to monitor Kīlauea as the situation is rapidly evolving with this evening’s eruption at the summit of Kīlauea. We will send out further notifications on Kīlauea and other Hawaiian volcanoes as we observe changes.”

Kīlauea’s south flank has been the site of over 30 earthquakes of magnitude-4.0 or greater during the past 20 years. Most are caused by abrupt motion of the volcano’s south flank, which moves to the southeast over the oceanic crust. The location, depth, and waveforms recorded as part of today’s earthquake are consistent with motion along the south flank detachment fault.

For information on recent earthquakes in Hawaii and eruption updates, visit the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website at

HVO Contact Information:


Kilauea Activity summary also available by phone: (808) 967-8862

Other Hawaiian volcanoes summary also available by phone: (808) 967-8877

Subscribe to HVO messages:

Kilauea Webcam images:

Kilauea Photos/video:

Kilauea Lava flow maps:

Definitions of terms used in update:

Summary of volcanic hazards from Kīlauea eruptions:

Recent earthquakes in Hawaiʻi (map and list):

Explanation of Volcano Alert Levels and Aviation Color Codes:


Kilauea Lava Lake Rising – Hawaii Tribune Herald 12-21-20


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Kilauea Volcano Eruption 12-20-20
Lava flows down the side of Halemaumau to fill up the water lake. Now it’s a lava lake.


Kilauea Volcano Eruption 12-20-20
Kilauea Volcano Eruption 12-20-20
Kilauea Volcano Eruption 12-20-20
Kilauea Volcano Eruption 12-20-20
Eruption Breakout Points
Eruption Breakout Points are marked in red. The lava erupted from the side of Halemaumau and spilled hot lava into the area below where the water lake was located. The water was boiled away by the new lava.

Swarms of earthquakes have occurred near Kilauea’s summit and the southwest fault zone. I am most interested in the quakes down in the southwest area. They have been plentiful for the past several years. Is another volcano eruption imminent in this area sometime in the near future? Scientists at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory say probably not. The quakes to me, remain a curiosity.


Melvin Ah Ching is a photographer, consultant, blogger, desktop publisher, and computer enthusiast living and working in Hawaii. The Hawaii Files have been online since 2006.