Director’s Message: Kilauea Volcano Eruptions Update


Thursday, May 17, 2018 – We are deeply humbled by the outpouring of support shown to Keck Observatory from our local community as well as across the globe. Mahalo.

Thanks to the tireless work of our team of experts, we are pleased to report that both Keck I and Keck II are now back on sky for science observations.

Our crews were able to repair the damage to Keck I’s mechanical bearing system sustained during the magnitude 6.9 earthquake. Science operations resumed four days after the earthquake, on Tuesday, May 8th.

Keck II did not suffer any damage and has been in operation since last Sunday night, May 6th.

We remain alert, keeping our staff’s safety at the top of our minds should another major earthquake occur.

We are also monitoring SO2 gas levels and implementing modified work practices to minimize any potentially negative effects the poor air quality may have on our staff.

The ash plume from this morning’s explosive eruption at Halemaumau Crater, which occurred at 4:15 a.m., did not affect overnight observing, though we did close for a portion of the night due to fog. Because ash could potentially impact our telescope mirrors, we will evaluate the likelihood of ash fall on the summit. If any ash particles are detected, we will keep our domes closed.

The volcanic activity continues to devastate communities in the Puna district. Our thoughts go out to those affected by the Kilauea volcano eruptions.

To assist with relief efforts, we have launched a community-wide donation drive for lava victims. If you would like to help, you may find details of our donation drive on our website HERE.


Hilton Lewis, Director

W. M. Keck Observatory