Kilauea's Eruptions Drive Metamorphosis of Halemaumau Crater

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The Halemaumau crater has astonished visitors of Hawaii and Kilauea's summit for decades. However, recent volcanic activity is causing dramatic changes to the massive pit crater.

Video and images shared over the past week from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) have shown the steep walls of Halemaumau collapsing and slumping inward and downward.

Officials say the changes started in mid-May when "explosive eruptions of ash and gas" emanated from the crater as subsidence occurred around Kilauea's summit area.

The crater floor has sunk more than 300 feet over the last few weeks, and large cracks in the ground around the crater have started to appear.

Prior to the eruption, the crater was a bubbling lava lake nearly 700 feet deep. All of the lava has since vanished.

Scientists are now using this data and video to determine how the collapsing area is evolving, the extent of the tephra fall and how these changes will affect the habitable areas nearby in the future.