Kīlauea Volcano Erupts

Release Date:

Shortly after 9:30 p.m. HST on Sunday, December 20, an eruption occurred within Kīlauea’s summit caldera. This is an evolving situation. To get up-to-date information, please check the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website. For press inquiries, please email volcanomedia@usgs.gov. [update: 12/21/2020; 10:14am HST]

2020 Ends with a Bang

Animation showing bright orange lava erupting at night and flowing into a pool of lava.

This animation shows lava erupting from Kīlauea Volcano on Dec 20, 2020.

At about 9:30 p.m. HST on Sunday evening, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory detected a glow within Halemaʻumaʻu crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. Shortly after, it was confirmed that an eruption had begun within Kīlauea’s summit caldera in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

USGS scientists and National Park Service officials will continue to monitor the situation and provide updated information as the eruption continues.

For awareness of those living or working near the summit, Kīlauea’s volcano alert level has been set to WATCH and its aviation color code is ORANGE.

At this time, no explosions have been detected, and the lava is isolated within the caldera. The eruption is generating a plume of ash and gas that is drifting to the southwest. Increased sulfur dioxide in the air may lead to voggy conditions downwind. Visitors to the park should note that under southerly (non-trade) wind conditions, rockfalls and explosions can result in a dusting of powdery to gritty ash made of volcanic glass and rock fragments. These ashfalls represent a minor hazard, but visitors should be aware that dustings of ash at areas around the summit are possible. For those attempting to view the eruption, please follow the safety guidelines issued by the National Park Service.

If there are any significant changes to the volcano’s eruptive status, the USGS will notify local authorities and the public. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is in close contact with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, County of Hawai‘i Civil Defense Agency and other agencies responsible for public safety. 

If you would like to receive notifications about Kīlauea, you can subscribe to the Volcano Notification Service online. You can also get up-to-date information by following USGS on Twitter at @USGSVolcanoes and on Facebook at USGS Volcanoes.

You can sign up for Civil Defense notifications by visiting the County of Hawai‘i Civil Defense Agency webpage.


Additional Information

glowing lava inside the Kīlauea caldera

December 21, 2020 - sunrise at the new eruption site in Kīlauea caldera.