Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii has erupted, sending lava coursing and roaring down its slopes and forcing hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.
The lava is being shot into the air by explosions from vents formed by magma in the ground.The lava is flowing into lakes that had collected as the molten rock slowly drained, creating pools that froze over the winter and in the spring as temperatures dropped.
“People down there don’t have any other option so this is the way the lava is flowing,” said Janet Babb, a geologist with the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
On Sunday, multiple earthquakes awakened residents with lava flows.
Hikers reported seeing lava flow into the ocean Saturday from the Leilani Estates subdivision.
“This is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Babb said.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued a state of emergency because of the eruptions and earthquakes.
People should be prepared, Ige said in a statement. “We’re taking this threat seriously and have the resources necessary to provide help to residents,” he said.
The Leilani Estates subdivision sits on the eastern flank of Kilauea. The Kapoho area, a fishing village, has also been evacuated. The lava flow has moved about 150 yards in 24 hours.
A volcano watch remains in effect, the USGS said.
The eruption is the latest in a series of events that have been happening on the island since May 3. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park had to close after a lava fissure opened on the volcano’s south flank, spewing lava and super-heated lava fragments.
And on May 3, an earthquake triggered a small eruption of lava near the Kilauea volcano.
In early June, molten rock from lava fissures began eroding the bottom of the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park, exposing the dormant Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater floor. The rim is about 730 feet below the crater floor.
After that and additional volcanic activity, lava entered the ocean near Pohoiki Bay. A fissure opened up below the home of Danilo Lugo. He said the volcano hasn’t done anything close to what it did before 1968, when lava covered half the island, so he wasn’t planning to evacuate.
In July, Halemaʻumaʻu crater at Kilauea’s summit experienced its first eruption in 35 years.
“The summit activity has put pressure on the east rift zone activity as well as the level of ground motion that surrounds the summit,” USGS scientist Janine Krippner said on Twitter.
Waves from these large, fast-moving fissures are posing risk for life, though reports are not conclusive on whether lava from the summit is threatening property.
In August, Kilauea’s summit lava stream flowed to a new area — part of a vast inlet that formed when a burst of fissure flow entered the ocean in the area named Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.
The lava entered the inlet at a depth of 80 to 100 feet and developed into a flow that stretched nearly 2 miles.
A week ago, scientists released a map that showed that the fissure that formed Halemaʻumaʻu Crater in the 1980s was about twice as long and roughly half as wide as the current lava flow.
University of Hawaii geophysicist Gerard Vowles said Kilauea may be losing its ability to produce lava because of the tunnels and cracks that formed while it was on the other side of the island.