Footage showing how the boiling lake inside Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano gets deeper and deeper over the course of the year was released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The time-lapse film begins on November 19 last year and runs until October 30, 2020. The footage was assembled from webcam images taken on site, using approximately one image every week.
“On the first image in this GIF, the lake is at a depth of about 46 ft, compared to the last image where the lake is about 154 ft deep,” the USGS said in a Facebook posting.
The lake in the Halemaʻumaʻu Kilauea Pit Crater was first discovered in July of last year, when scientists noticed a strange “green pond” on an aerial photograph of the site. At first the scientists were amazed by its appearance, as they had never seen anything like it before in a volcanic crater. Subsequent observations showed that the pond was getting bigger and bigger.
Since then, the pond has grown bigger and bigger, reaching 130 feet in July of this year. The water in the lake is extremely hot, temperatures are estimated to reach 176-185 F.
Scientists have linked its occurrence to the massive eruptions that occurred near Kilauea in 2018. It is believed that the water is rising due to the groundwater in the earth surrounding the crater, and that the lake’s level will continue to rise until it approaches the water level.
“The water level in this area is estimated to be [about]230 ft above the crater floor, so the lake level will continue to slowly rise until it balances with the local water level,” the USGS said.
The USGS released the latest time-lapse footage on November 4 to show how the crater lake had changed over the course of a year. It was distributed in social media to celebrate the month of native heritage, with the agency highlighting the appearance of a crater lake in Hawaiian mythology.
In one story, Pele, the goddess of volcanoes and fire, believes that her younger sister, Hi’iaka, is having an affair with her lover. Pele orders Hi’iaka to kill him. Hi’iaka then wants to take revenge and tries to destroy Pele by flooding the crater of Kilauea with water. To do so, she stomps through layers of the crater, eventually getting to where the water was stored and turning Kilauea into a lake.
“Scientists believe that this part of the saga is one of several stories possibly inspired by a collapse of the Kilauea Crater around 1500,” the USGS wrote in a Facebook posting. “The described effects of Hi’iaka’s repeated stomping to get deeper under the crater floor also resemble the strong tremors of the collapse of the Kilauea summit in 2018. Hi’iaka was looking for groundwater like the one that appears in Halema’uma’u today”.