Kilauea Volcano May Take Two Years to Wind Down, Government Report Says

It's time to plan ahead.

Hawaii’s Volcano Kilauea has catalyzed several new or unusual natural phenomena, from volcanic tornadoes to launching lava balls and green gems into the sky. While these have sometimes given scientists an opportunity to study rare volcanic activity, it’s also destroyed several buildings and has harmed or displaced people, animals, and the area’s natural flora. For such unpredictable activity to continue for another two years could be overwhelming to the area, but the latest report from the US government claims that could be the case.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory published its preliminary analysis of the ongoing eruption and its rippled effects on Hawaii’s Big Island. The 15-page report, published on Sunday, examines the potential impacts of the ongoing eruptive activity, with a particular interest in Fissure 8, the dominant lava producer that has yielded some of the worst damage.

Kilauea Volcano's Fissure 8


“The volume of lava erupted during the current activity exceeds that of many past eruptions,” the report explains. “Given this volume and the sustained withdrawal of magma from the summit reservoir without appreciable deformation in the lower East Rift Zone, it is most likely that the Lower East Rift Zone eruption may continue for months to years.”

Since Fissure 8 first emerged on May 3, the breakage point has broken historic records for how much molten rock it as produced at rapid rates. Fissure 8 has also been known to launched lava as high as 180 feet, creating one of the most dangerous areas of Kilauea’s destruction as the lava meets the ocean. Despite the occasional lull in physical destruction, the USGS report confirms that the agency is not expecting the historically significant fissure to slow its production of lava in the near future.

“The volume of the current eruption has exceeded that of these older nearby eruptions,” the report says. “The steady discharge from Fissure 8 shows no sign of waning supply, suggesting relatively constant magma pressure; the lack of significant ground deformation in this area shows that there is neither storage nor withdrawal from the May intrusion since its initial emplacement.”

In a section that discusses how long the eruptions will last, USGS maintains that after analyzing Kilauea’s activity and high eruption rate, it may take “a year or two to wind down.” While evacuations have been implemented, local governments now must plan for long-term strategies to accommodate Fissure 8’s potential schedule.