Kilauea, Hawaii Eruption 2018

Start Date

May 3, 2018

Overview

On May 3rd 2018, the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island erupted from new fissures and sent lava flowing over streets and neighborhoods. As the disaster response on the ground lead by the U.S. Geological Survey kicked into gear, managers from NASA’s Earth Science Disasters Program heard from response agencies and sent out a call to NASA’s own researchers, data managers, and satellite teams: What can we do to help?

Detailed view of the Leilani Estates showing the previous rift and an overlaid infrared image of the new rift (acquired May 14th by the Landsat 8 OLI)

Detailed view of the Leilani Estates showing the previous rift and an overlaid infrared image of the new rift (acquired May 14th by the Landsat 8 OLI)

With an array of sophisticated Earth-observing sensors in orbit and partnerships with space agencies around the globe, NASA had a lot of assets to offer.

“One of the first things emergency responders wanted to know was where the lava was coming out, where are all the fissures,” said J. Carver Struve, NASA emergency management co-lead at NASA Headquarters in Washington who coordinates the organization and distribution of data and satellite imagery from seven NASA centers.

In total, seven instruments onboard five NASA and partner satellites provided key information on eruption patterns and atmospheric impacts of the Kilauea eruption. These included detection of active fissures, fires, ash and sulfur dioxide plumes, deformation of the ground caused by magma movement, and the height and composition of volcanic plumes. Even astronauts onboard the International Space Station were able to view the eruption, sending digital camera images to the USGS and response community. The European Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency also contributed data to the effort.

The VIIRS instrument on NASA's Suomi NPP satellite showed this enhanced nighttime image on May 15th, 2018 superimposed with thermal anomalies (red points)

The VIIRS instrument on the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite showed this enhanced nighttime image on May 15 superimposed with thermal anomalies (red points). 

Feedback from responders in Hawaii using the data has led to the creation of additional data products tailored to their immediate needs. "We're providing actionable scientific products to teams on the ground to support response activities and fill any gaps they may have in their information as the disaster is evolving," said Struve.

In addition to providing data to support recovery and resilience planning, NASA has a long-standing research effort to understand volcanic processes before, during and after eruptions, insights that can also serve as a window into understanding volcanoes on other planets. The current Kilauea eruption is an opportunity to evaluate the performance of instruments to estimate lava flow rates and volume, crucial parameters in volcanic models.

NASA is contributing to the understanding of the eruption using airborne assets. The G-III research aircraft is flying an all-weather, high-resolution instrument called the Glacier and Ice Surface Topography Interferometer (GLISTIN) that was developed to study small changes in ice sheets. The science team, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, previously used GLISTIN to study the surface topography of Kilauea’s East Rift Zone.

A sequence of repeat flights during the current eruption are using GLISTIN to detect changes in Kilauea's topography associated with the new lava flows, with the goal of measuring the erupted volume as a function of time and ultimately the total volume of the event. Such observations are extremely useful to quantitatively evaluate models for evolution of volcanic processes.

Latest Updates

May 18, 2018
Sentinel 2B Imagery
May 23rd, 2018: The above two images show a comparison between the USGS rift zone map and Sentinel 2B data collected on May 23rd 2018. A noticeable feature is the rapid progress of a lava channel (west side) toward the ocean seen near 12:00 pm by USGS and observed by Sentinel 2B later in the day. Multiple active lava fissures...
May 6, 2018
MISR Plume height measurements
May 22nd, 2018: Volcanic eruptions can generate significant amounts of atmospheric aerosols that can have regional to global impacts. To determine the influence of volcanic eruptions, accurate plume heights are needed, but are difficult to obtain  due to the hazardous nature of such eruptions. Stereo images from NASA’s Multi-Angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) make it possible to map plume heights in ongoing eruptions using parallax in the stereo imagery. Multi-angle images...
May 16, 2018
VIIRS thermal hotspots from May 22
May 22nd, 2018: VIIRS thermal anomalies continues to locate lava fountains from fissure 6, 19 and 22 flowing toward the ocean though several channels consistent with thermal maps from the USGS on May, 22nd. VIIRS suggests hot spots along the coast consistent with Lava flow entries warming up the ocean in the proximity of the coast. VIIRS nighttime imagery shows the light coming from the lava and reaching saturation levels.  May 21st, 2018:...
May 15, 2018
OMPS SO2 map for the Kilauea eruption from May 22nd, 2018.
May 22nd 2018: OMPS SO2 map for the Kilauea eruption from May 22nd, 2018. The Ozone Mapping Profiling Suite (OMPS) Hyperspectral UV instrument onboard the Suomi NPP (SNPP) satellite observed large extent of the volcanic SO2 clouds emitted from Kilauea eruptions  on May 21-22 on Hawai'i Big island. The estimated SO2 emission rate is still elevated, at ~10-30,000 tons/day (2-6 times the long-term average flux for Kilauea) The SNPP orbit was not...
May 23, 2018
Detailed view of the Leilani Estates showing the previous rift and an overlaid infrared image of the new rift (acquired May 14th by the Landsat 8 OLI)
Detailed view of the Leilani Estates showing the previous rift and an overlaid infrared image of the new rift (acquired May 14th by the Landsat 8 OLI) Zoomed out image acquired May 14th by the Landsat 8 OLI. Though the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has been erupting continuously...

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