Lava skull overlooking the sea

A random pattern, or the face of darkness staring out at us on Allhallows eve as flowing fire from Kilauea meets the waters of the Pacific Ocean at the edge of the main island of Hawaii? Either way it makes a magnificent reminder of the wonder of our beautiful world as we enjoy our overdose of sugar and scary movies.


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Kilauea’s Halemaʻumaʻu Crater

Halema’uma’u Crater is the center of activity at Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano. From 1820—when visiting scientists began recording their observations—until 1924, Halema’uma’u and much of Kilauea Caldera was usually filled with a lava lake. In 1924, lava drained suddenly, vaporizing groundwater deep beneath the caldera. A series of violent steam explosions followed, sculpting Halema’uma’u into its current shape. For the rest of the 20th Century, Halema’uma’u occasionally filled with lava, but quickly drained again. Most of the time the crater floor was solid. The pattern ended in March 2008, when a new pit formed along the eastern edge of Halema’uma’u; deep within the new pit crater was a lava lake. Since the pit crater formed, it has slowly expanded and is now about 160 meters (520 ft) across. The level of the lava fluctuates as magma moves from beneath the summit to the ongoing eruption in Kilauea’s East Rift Zone. This U.S. Geological Survey photograph of the lava lake was taken from the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater on February 1, 2014. The level had dropped slightly from the previous day, leaving a black veneer of lava on the crater walls just above the surface of the lava and easily visible in this photograph.

See the image and read more from the U.S. Geological Survey at

See the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater from space at

See more satellite imagery of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at

text and photo from NASA