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Mesmerizing Lava Lake Movement Revealed in Time-Lapse Video

Halema'uma'u Crater Lava Lake
This thermal image shows the lava lake in Halema'uma'u Crater on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano. (Image credit: USGS)

The thermal image sequence below shows the typical motion of the lava lake in Halema'uma'u Crater on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, revealing how the top cooler layer of crust constantly forms new patterns as the lava churns.

One of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea is a shield-type volcano on the southeastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. It makes up about 14 percent of the island's land area. The volcano rises 4,190 feet (1,227 meters) above sea level.

The clip of the lava lake, shown at 30x speed, shows lava upwelling along the northern edge of the lake (top of the video.) As the crust slowly migrates toward the southern edge, it sinks back into the magmatic system making it look like the lava is just about to burst out from the volcano. As the lake surface migrates through lava movement, numerous thin plates of crust split, merge and change shape.

Source: USGS

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Nina Sen
Nina Sen is a frequent contributor to Live Science’s Life’s Little Mysteries series: an exploration and explanation of our world’s phenomena, both natural and man-made. She also writes astronomy photo stories for Live Science's sister site Space.com.