Earth  ID: 30965

The Infrared Glow of Kilauea’s Lava Flows

Though Hawaii’s Kilauea has been erupting continuously from the Pu’u O’o vent since 1983, the eruption took a dangerous turn on May 3, 2018, when new fissures opened in the residential neighborhood of Leilani Estates. Three weeks later, some fissures had become less active but several others had emerged along the Lower East Rift Zone, including a few just northeast of Leilani Estates.

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired the data for this false-color view of the lava flow as it appeared on the night of May 23, 2018. The image is based on OLI’s observations of shortwave infrared and green light (bands 6-5-3). It was cloudy when the data were acquired, but a small break in the clouds made it possible to image the lava flows. Lava from fissure 22 extends all the way to Hawaii’s southeastern coast and is entering the ocean near MacKenzie State Park. Though it is routine for lava from Kilauea to reach the ocean, this is a new entry point. The purple areas surrounding the flows are clouds lit from below. The animation also makes use of a daytime-image from OLI, with information about the location of roads and coastlines.

Geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are monitoring the fissure eruptions closely. While seismometers and other ground-based instruments can track the underground movement of magma to some degree, it is not possible to predict with a high degree of accuracy how long a particular fissure will remain active or how much lava it will produce.

For More Information

NASA Earth Observatory


Amy Moran (Global Science and Technology, Inc.): Lead Technical Support
Joshua Stevens (SSAI): Lead Data Visualizer
Adam P. Voiland (SSAI): Lead Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Short URL to share this page:

Data Used:
Landsat-8/OLI/Band Combination 5, 4, 3
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

SVS >> Landsat
SVS >> Night
SVS >> Volcano
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Solid Earth >> Volcanoes >> Lava
GCMD >> Location >> Hawaii
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> Volcanic Islands
NASA Science >> Earth
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Solid Earth >> Tectonics >> Volcanic Activity

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version