Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island roared back to life Sunday night as lava went shooting into the air, boiling away a water lake and sending a massive plume of steam, gas and ash soaring into the atmosphere.
In the first hours of the eruption, lava mixed rapidly with water in the summit’s crater lake to create steam. The sky above the eruption turned shades of orange and red as people lined up to watch the billowing column of gas and vapor rise above the volcano in the middle of the night.
Tom Birchard, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Hawaii, said lava poured into the crater and mixed with the water to cause a vigorous eruption for about an hour. When lava interacts with water it can cause explosive reactions.
All the water evaporated out of the lake and a steam cloud shot up about 30,000 feet (9 kilometers) into the atmosphere, Birchard said.
The water was the first ever recorded in the summit crater of Kilauea volcano. In 2019, after a week of questions about a mysterious green patch at the bottom of the volcano’s crater, researchers confirmed the presence of water. The lake had continued to fill since then.
The eruption began late Sunday within the volcano’s caldera, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Because of the location of the erupting lava, no homes were evacuated and there was little risk to the public. The crater, named Halemaumau, is located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and was home to a longstanding lava lake that was present for years before a 2018 eruption caused it to drain.
The eruption continued throughout Monday and scientists said it’s hard to know how long it will last. With the water gone, a lava lake was forming in the crater throughout the day.
An advisory was issued by the National Weather Service in Honolulu, warning of fallen ash from the volcano. Excessive exposure to ash is an eye and respiratory irritant, it said. The agency later said the eruption was easing and a “low-level steam cloud” was lingering in the area.
Source: Associated Press – CALEB JONES