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New USGS drone video shows dramatic drop at Kilauea Summit in Hawaii

Yesterday the U.S. Geological Services (USGS) took a drone to the top of Kilauea Summit to show a dramatic drop and cracks running through the ground at the south side of the crater. Steve Brantley, a scientist from the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory talks about the 300ft subsidence of the Halema‘uma‘u crater floor in the drone video below.

Overnight large rockfalls had been detected

Scientists have stated that the inward slumping of the rim and the walls of the crater are taking place in a response to the continuing subsidence at the summit. Overnight large rockfalls had been detected.

Brantley explains that events at the summit of Kilauea over the last couple of weeks have caused Halema‘uma‘u crater floor to subside about 300 feet. On the south side of the crater, the drone footage clearly shows the ground cracks running through what used to be the parking lot for the former Halema‘uma‘u visitor overlook, that has been closed since 2008.

In the video Brantley explains:

“Clearly visible are the steep crater walls that continue to slump inward and downward in response to the ongoing subsidence at the summit,” the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory stated. “The deepest part of Halema‘uma‘u is now about 300 m (1,000 ft) below the crater rim.” The video was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey and Office of Aviation Services, Department of the Interior, with support from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Brantley informs us that in the past similar occurances have taken place, with the last one of a similar size happening in 1924. Larger events took place in 1823 when the crater was much deeper than it currently is. It measured 1700 feet deep versus a depth of 500 feet today.

According to USGS, the drone footage was taken with the permission and coordination of the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Scientists will be closely examining the drone footage and images to develop a better understanding of how the expanding collapse at the Kilauea Summit is evolving. Any new information and insights that help to create a better assessment of the hazards, will be shared with the National Park Service and emergency managers.

The video has been made available to the public on YouTube by Big Island Video News


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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo