Volcano Hazards Mitigation

Red molten lava bubbles up beneath solid black crust. There are three active volcanoes on the Big Island: Kīlauea, Maunaloa, and Hualālai. Kīlauea had a long eruption from 1983 to 2018 from Puʻu Ōʻō vent. The early part of this eruption destroyed close to 200 homes in the Kalapana area, but in 2018, this eruption took out over 700 homes in the Leilani Estates and Kapoho areas of Puna. In December of 2020, Halemaumau, at the summit of Kīlauea, erupted, and formed a lava lake.

Maunaloa last erupted in 1984, when it sent flows within four miles of the city limits of Hilo. Hualalai's last eruption was in 1801, and the Keahole Airport is built on these flows.

Lava flows always run downhill. At 2000 degrees fahrenheit, lava can destroy or bury everything in its path, including houses, roads and utilities. The impact of lava flows on infrastructure is significant, because even if your home is not destroyed during an eruption, your access and your utility lines could be buried. In addition, volcanoes produce vog, and these sulfuric fumes adversely affect people, especially asthmatics.

On the other hand, volcanoes are one of nature’s most beautiful creations, and the Hawaiian Islands wouldn't be here without successive volcanic eruptions. If you choose to live on the Big Island, you need to learn the basics about volcanoes, as well as mitigation.

Learn what parts of the island are most likely to be impacted by a lava flow and try to avoid these areas when selecting a place to live or build. Also learn where the rift zones are located, what to do if you are asked to evacuate when an eruption threatens, and how to cope with vog.

Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Active Alerts

Visit the Civil Defense website for up-to-date information.