Halema'uma'u's most recent eruption through the lens of Wade Morales (Dec 2020)

12/2020  |  Volcano National Park Big Island Hawaii

And here we go again! If you live on on the the worlds most active Volcanos new volcanic activity can bring on a world of different emotions. For a photographer like myself my first emotion when I heard Halema'uma'u was erupting again was pure excitement. Before I could even begin to think about what this all means for us living here on the Big Island of Hawaii I started scrambling to get my camera bag together and get up to Volcano National Park to photograph a sight that has been sorely missed ever since the lava lake disappeared in 2018 leading to a massive and unprecedented eruption that lasted 4 long months devastating residents in the Puna district and drastically changing the landscape of the Big Island. Halema'uma'u had filled up with lava and suddenly deflated sending lava underground to lower east rift zone of the Puna District which then relied in 24 fissures opening up in Leilani Estates subdivision over the 4 months. It was devastating, fascinating and scary due to the uncertainty of the event. That is life living on the Big Island of Hawaii!


Photo of 'Halema'uma'u Milky Way' prior to the 2018 eruption. The Milky Way rising over Halema'uma'u Crater as the setting moon lights up the landscape. Click on the image for more information about this photo. Prints Available

So fast forward to today. After a long rest on 12/20/2020 I was sitting at home here in Hilo when I saw a friend post a facebook live that Halema'uma'u was erupting! At first I thought it was old video but I clicked on it and sure enough he was there live at Volcano National park going bananas watching the huge plume rising up in to the air due to the water in the crater evaporating. There were lava fountains shooting lava hundreds of feet in to the air starting what has now become a new lava lake that is increasingly getting much larger by the day. How long will this go on and what is next! Will the crater deflate again and where will all that lava go? I am not going to pretend to be an expert on this stuff but I am constantly reminded of the series of events of 2018. Halema'uma'u used to have a circular shape. I used to to go up and photograph the glow from anger museum which was the best vantage pointing the park accessible to the public. due to the constant earthquakes and the void of lava due to deflation Halema'uma'u' Craters shape and size changed dramatically!


I made my way to Kilauea Iki to get a different view of Halema’uma’u. The Kilauea Iki trail takes you down to the crater floor which I decided not to do this night. The vog (volcanic smog) this day was creating an amazing atmospheric haze which resulted in some amazing colors in the sky. I walked the trail until I found a good vantage point to take a panoramic photo of the cinder cone (Pu'u Pua'i) and Halema’uma’u in one photo. It took me 3 nights to finally get the right conditions to take this photo. The previous nights there was too much rain and fog to get a good photo.

Keanakākoʻi Crater

The first night of the eruption the crowds of people swarming to get a first glimpse filled all of the obvious viewing areas. I decided to go straight to a lesser traveled area near Keanakākoʻi Crater. The amount of haze from the emission of the volcano had me somewhat concerned considering it was a brand new eruption and nobody really knew what was going to happen. The landscape and the sky were lit up from the glow of the nearby crater.

Posted in lava and tagged Kilauea Volcano, Halema'uma'u.