The first eruptive activity at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit in 25 years began in March 2008 with the opening of a 35-m-wide vent in Halema‘uma‘u crater. The new activity has produced prominent very-long-period (VLP) signals corresponding with two new behaviors: episodic tremor bursts and small explosive events, both of which represent degassing events from the top of the lava column. Previous work has shown that VLP seismicity has long been present at Kīlauea’s summit, and is sourced approximately 1 km below Halema‘uma‘u. By integrating video observations, infrasound and seismic data, we show that the onset of the large VLP signals occurs within several seconds of the onset of the degassing events. This timing indicates that the VLP is caused by forces—sourced at or very near the lava free surface due to degassing—transmitted down the magma column and coupling to the surrounding rock at 1 km depth.