A huge lake boils in the womb of Mount Kilauea in Hawaii at 80-85 degrees Celsius, making it one of the hottest reservoirs in the world. The lagoon became visible after an eruption in 2018, as a result of which part of the bottom of the caldera collapsed.
However, the intense heat has put scientists at a dead end, as there are only a few volcanic lakes in the world with temperatures above 80 degrees. The U.S. Geological Survey keeps a close eye on the lake and studies residual heat in debris at the base or nearby gas holes that can heat the pond.
Although Kilauea shows no signs of an eruption in the future, officials note that changes in lake temperature “may be a harbinger of impending dangers. Don Swanson, a volcanologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory, said: “The next eruption may be slow and water may evaporate. We don’t want to be panicky, but we also need to point out to the public the increasing likelihood of an explosion on Kilaua.
The scientists have collected samples from a heated lake and are using thermal imaging cameras to track temperature changes in the lake. It’s difficult to accurately measure the temperature in the lake, however. The steam rising from the water surface and mixing with the air was much colder than water, and the steam layer was thick enough to mask most of the underlying water surface. Collecting and analyzing hundreds of images at the same time gives a better chance to capture random views through the steam and evaluate the hot underlying water surface.