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This image from space is a record of Hawaii’s past volcanic eruptions

  • Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon

Deputy Photo Editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

A newly released image from NASA, showing the volatile areas created by Mount Kilauea’s recent eruption on Hawaii’s Big Island, also offers a look at the island’s history of volcanic activity.

The picture from NASA’s Terra satellite shows fissures and lava flow from the past week, as tiny areas of yellow and green superimposed over the infrared image. In the same image, the island’s vast vegetation is seen in red. The swathes and curling puddles of black are the traces of past lava flows.

NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team
In one image, Kilauea’s present and past.

Kilauea, the island of Hawaii’s youngest volcano, is also one of the island’s most active. On the ground, the past lava flows can be seen in archival images from the US Geological Survey. Dating back almost a century, these photos of lava and ash eruptions capture Kilauea’s continuous alteration of the island itself.

A ten ton block ejected 3,500 feet from the center of Halemaumau crater.
Mount Kilauea erupting as seen from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on May 22, 1924
An ash eruption towering 3,300 feet high from the Halemaumau crater of Kilauea on May 22, 1924.
Lava moving toward a school in Kapoho in 1960.
Kilauea lava flow seen in 1969.
A mound made of falling pumice from a 1969 eruption.
RL Christiansen/USGS
Scientists plumbing a lava tube northeast of Alae Crater in 1973.
Peter Lipman/USGS
Fast moving lava flow during a 1983 eruption.
JD Griggs/USGS
Lava erupting from Kilauea in 1983.
Lava flow cutting through a residential subdivision in 1983.
Peter Lipman/USGS
Kilauea lava flow moving over vegetation in 1984. The lava flow from a 19th-century eruption is covered by the lower and greener vegetation.

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