• USGS_Lava Folds_June 20 2018

Eruption Timeline

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2018 Kīlauea Eruption


The 2018 Kīlauea eruption began May 3, 2018, in the Leilani Estates subdivision following the collapse of Puʻu ‘Oʻo crater floor and intrusion of magma down the lower East Rift Zone (LERZ).

An estimated 1 cubic kilometer of lava erupted through August. This coincided with numerous caldera collapses at the summit that deepened the Halema‘umau crater. The eruption would be the largest LERZ eruption and caldera collapse seen in at least 200 years. 


  • Mid-March: tiltmeters at Puʻu ‘Oʻo, the site of an eruption since 1983, began recording inflationary ground deformation, likely due to accumulation of magma. Pressure increased through March and April, prompting the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) to issue a warning that a new vent might form at Puʻu ‘Oʻo or adjacent areas of the East Rift Zone.
  • April 30: Puʻu ‘Oʻo crater floor collapses followed by ground deformation and and eastward-propagating seismicity indicating migration of magma. 
  • May 1: HVO issues a warning that an eruption was possible downrift.
  • May 3: First of 24 fissures opens in Leilani Estates, about 20 kilometers downrift from Puʻu ‘Oʻo.
  • May 4: A 6.9-magnitude earthquake, the largest on the island in 43 years, occurs beneath Kīlauea's south flank. 

Photo: Leilani Estates, USGS, May 3, 2018

  • Over subsequent months, HVO reported a total of 24 known fissures, 60,000 earthquakes, and an eruption equivalent to eight years of Kīlauea’s magma supply in just over three months.
  • Given the volume of lava and associated hazards such as sulfur dioxide, ash, tephra, and laze, Island of Hawaiʻi residents were severely impacted.
  • Entire neighborhoods – such as Kapoho Vacationland, Lanipuna Gardens and Kapoho Beach Lots – Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School, Kapoho Bay and tidepools, and the Ahalanui Warm Ponds were destroyed.

Photo: Kapoho Bay, USGS, June 3, 2018

HVO reduced Kīlauea's alert level from watch to advisory on Friday, October 5, 2018, after the passing of 30 days without seeing lava on the surface. There have been no active lava flows since August, though lava was seen inside fissure 8 in Leilani Estates as of Sept. 5, 2018.

View the USGS overview of events April 17 to October 5, 2018


Verified impacts from the 2018 Kīlauea Eruption include:


  • 13.7 sq mi / 35.5 sq km / 8,488 acres inundated with lava.
  • 875 acres new land created along shoreline.
  • Kīlauea summit collapse.
  • Erupted a volume of about 1 cubic kilometer of lava; two-thirds from Fissure 8.


  • 723 structures destroyed, including approx. 200 primary residences.
  • Estimated 3,000 residents initially displaced during eruption.
  • Estimated $236.5 million in damages to roads, waterlines and facilities (e.g. parks).


  • Small businesses decreased revenues and closures.
  • $27.9 million farm losses resulting in decreased agriculture and floriculture production
  • Decreased tourism revenue and adjustments to marketing and products.
  • Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park 4-month closure, source of $222 million a year economic influence.


Kīlauea is an active shield volcano and the youngest of five volcanoes that comprise the Island of Hawaiʻi.

  • Kīlauea's magma-plumbing system extends to the surface from more than 60 km into the earth. Located along the southern shore of the island, Kīlauea is between 300,000 and 600,000 years old, and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago.
  • Native Hawaiians honor Kīlauea as the home of Pele, the volcano goddess. Hawaiian chants and oral traditions tell of many eruptions initiated by Pele before the first European missionary saw the summit in 1823.

Beginning in May 2018, the lava lake that previously existed inside Halema'uma'u crater disappeared and lava flows from Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater ceased – signaling the beginning of the 2018 Kīlauea Eruption. The size of Halema'uma'u crater roughly doubled as a result of the most recent eruption and collapse events.


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