Eruption All Pau… For Now

Kilauea Volcano has stopped erupting. The eruption that started in December 2020 at the summit of Kilauea ended late last month (May 2021) with a whimper. The lava lake simply dried out after no new lava was produced for more than 48 hours within the Halemaumau crater. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) declared the eruption over (at least for this phase) and downgraded the volcano hazard threat from “orange” to “yellow”. You can read the complete details of the HVO’s declaration at the following link:


Kīlauea Volcano is no longer erupting. No surface activity has been observed by field crews or webcam images over the past week. Sulfur dioxide emission rates remain slightly elevated. It is possible that the Halema‘uma‘u vent could resume eruption or that Kīlauea is entering a period of quiescence prior to the next eruption.

Halemaʻumaʻu Lava Lake Observations: The lake’s surface is now completely covered by solidified lava crust. No surface activity or evidence of recent surface activity has been observed over the past week, except for minor subsidence on the order of 2-3 meters (7-10 feet) in areas of the lava lake surface that had been active two weeks ago. Small, warmer-temperature spots around the rim and in local cavities remain visible in thermal webcam imagery, although at temperatures well below those associated with molten lava. Near-real time webcam views of the lava lake can be found here:


The world’s largest volcano measuring from the sea floor up, is Hawaii Island’s Mauna Loa volcano. It is the longest mountain on the. Big Island, making up at least two-thirds of the island.

Mauna Loa is always being watched by the HVO for any sign of re-awakening. It is only a matter of time before the mountain erupts again. The last eruption at Mauna Loa occurred in 1984, sending lava to within four miles of Hilo, the county seat of the Big Island.

Currently Mauna Loa is not erupting but is continually monitored. From the last HVO update, this is what they have to say:

Mauna Loa Volcano is not erupting. Rates of seismicity at the summit remain slightly elevated and above long-term background levels. Other Mauna Loa monitoring data streams show no significant change in deformation rates or patterns that would indicate increased volcanic hazard at this time.


Mauna Loa Threat Map
Threat map from Mauna Loa volcano lava flows.

Lava spewing out of Mauna Loa volcano has a lot of volume and moves very fast. An eruption on the Southwest flank of Mauna Loa saw lava cascade down from the breakout to the ocean in about 4 hours. This was back in 1950. The area where that eruption occurred is now developed with a lot of homes and a small community. The people who live there have a very short time to get away from any danger an eruption of Mauna Loa may pose.

Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory has issued several articles over the years outlining the lava threat and what people can do to prepare. Mauna Loa will erupt again. No one knows when that will happen, but it will happen again. Here are links to some interesting articles regarding Mauna Loa:


For several years now there have been a major uptick in small, deep earthquakes coming from the southeastern side of Hawaii Island near the town of Pahala. These deep earthquakes have been a daily occurrence for years. Are they volcano related? A shift in tectonic plates? Could an eruption in this area happen? What volcano is associated with these earthquakes? Mauna Loa? Kilauea?

Scientists don’t seem to be very sure about these. Several articles and observations have been made regarding the daily earthquake swarms. You can visit the USGS Hawaii Earthquake Page to view the latest updates on all earthquakes the occur in the State of Hawaii.

Additional information:

Volcano Watch: New Research Sheds Light on Recent Pahala Earthquake Swarms – May 20, 2021.


Check our Hawaii Files Channel for archived videos regarding volcanoes in Hawaii.

Hawaii Files Channel: 2020 – 2021 Kilauea Summit Eruption

The Hawaii Files Channel: Mauna Loa – Assorted videos of the famed volcano.

The Hawaii Files Channel: 2018 Kilauea East Rift Zone Eruption – Massive archive of more than 1,000 video clips

The Hawaii Files Volcano Page – more links and information.



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.