Time-Lapse Film Shows Boiling Lake Inside Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Growing

Footage showing the boiling lake inside Hawaii's Kilauea volcano getting deeper and deeper over the course of the year has been released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The time-lapse film starts on November 19 last year and runs through to October 30, 2020. The footage was pieced together from webcam images taken at the site, using around one image each week.

"In the first image in this GIF the lake is at a depth of approximately 46 ft, compared to the last image where the lake is approximately 154 ft deep," the USGS said in a Facebook post.

The lake in the Halemaʻumaʻu pit crater of Kilauea was first spotted in July last year, with scientists noticing a strange "green pond" in an aerial image of the site. Initially, researchers were baffled by its appearance, having never seen anything like this appear in a volcanic crater before. Follow-up observations showed the pond was getting bigger and bigger.

Since then, the pool of water has continued to grow, having reached a depth of 130 feet by July this year. The water in the lake is extremely hot, with temperatures estimated to be up to 176–185 F.

Scientists have linked its appearance to the huge eruptions that took place at Kilauea in 2018. It is thought the water is rising as a result of groundwater in the earth surrounding the crater, and that the level of the lake will continue to rise until it comes in line with the water table.

"The water table in this area is estimated to be [around] 230 ft above the crater floor, so the lake level will slowly continue to rise until it equilibrates with the local water table," 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 shared on social media to celebrate Native Heritage Month, with the agency pointing to the appearance of a crater lake in Hawaiian mythology.

In one story, Pele, the goddess of volcanoes and fire, believes her younger sister, Hi'iaka, is having an affair with her lover. Pele orders Hi'iaka to kill him. Hi'iaka then looks for revenge and tries to destroy Pele by flooding the crater of Kilauea with water. To do this she stomps through layers of the crater, eventually getting down to where water was stored and turning Kilauea into a lake.

"Scientists think that this part of the saga is one of several stories that may have been inspired by a Kilauea caldera collapse around 1500," the USGS wrote in the Facebook post. "The described effects of Hi'iaka repeatedly stomping to get deeper beneath the crater floor also resemble the strong shaking of the 2018 summit collapse events at Kilauea. Hi'iaka was seeking groundwater like that which appears in Halema'uma'u today."

hawaii volcano lake
The lake that formed inside Hawaii's Kilauea volcano USGS