Science & Nature

Lava eruption at Kilauea spews ‘Pele’s hair’ volcanic glass into Hawaii’s skies

The Kilauea eruption, as seen at dawn local time on Sept. 30. Lava fountains are spurting out at multiple fissure locations at the base and west wall of the crater, and a lava lake is growing within Halema'uma'u.



The Kilauea eruption, as seen at daybreak native time on Sept. 30. Lava fountains are spurting out at a number of fissure areas on the base and west wall of the crater, and a lava lake is rising inside Halema’uma’u.
(Image credit score: B. Carr/USGS)

Kilauea volcano is erupting, sending lava and thread-like items of  volcanic glass, often known as Pele’s hair, into Hawaii’s skies, in keeping with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Weather Service.

The eruption started at about 3:20 p.m. native Hawaii time Wednesday (Sept. 29), when the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory detected a glow from its webcam at Kilauea summit. That glow indicated a lava eruption occurring at Halema’uma’u crater — a pit crater nestled within the a lot bigger Kilauea caldera, or crater.

The webcam footage additionally revealed fissures on the base of Halema’uma’u crater that had been releasing lava flows onto the floor of the lava lake that had been energetic till May 2021, the USGS stated in an announcement. However, the eruption at Kilauea — situated inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on Hawaii’s Big Island — is confined to Halema’uma’u crater, which means it is not at the moment a risk to the general public. 

Related: Photos: Fiery lava from Kilauea volcano erupts on Hawaii’s Big Island

“At this time, we do not imagine anyone or any residents are at risk, however we do need to remind people the park stays open,” Cyrus Johnasen, a Hawaii County spokesperson, informed Hawaii information station KHON2 on Sept. 29. “It will stay open till the night. Please proceed with warning,” particularly for these with respiratory circumstances, he added. 

However, the a part of the park the place the eruption is going on is at the moment closed to the general public, in keeping with the USGS.

A low lava fountain near the center of the growing Halema'uma'u lava lake.

A low lava fountain close to the middle of the rising Halema’uma’u lava lake. (Image credit score: M. Patrick/USGS)

Due to the eruption, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has elevated Kilauea’s volcano alert stage from “watch” to “warning” and its aviation shade code from orange to pink, which warns pilots about doable ash emissions. Those are the best warning ranges, which means a “main volcanic eruption is imminent, underway or suspected, with hazardous exercise each on the bottom and within the air,” in keeping with the USGS

Image 1 of two

The eruption within Halema'uma'u crater is spewing low lava fountains in the center of the lava lake (pictured) and along the western wall of Halema'uma'u.

The eruption inside Halema’uma’u crater is spewing low lava fountains within the middle of the lava lake (pictured) and alongside the western wall of Halema’uma’u. (Image credit score: M. Patrick/USGS)

Image 2 of two

Telephoto image of fissures that opened at Halema'uma'u crater during the ongoing eruption that began Septe. 29 at Kilauea.

Telephoto picture of fissures that opened at Halema’uma’u crater throughout the ongoing eruption that started Septe. 29 at Kilauea. (Image credit score: M. Patrick/USGS)

Meanwhile, a number of pilots flying plane close to Kilauea Wednesday night reported seeing volcanic glass often known as Pele’s hair, in keeping with the National Weather Service. The golden, sharp strands of glass — named for Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fireplace and volcanoes — kind when gasoline bubbles inside lava burst on the floor.

“The pores and skin of the bursting bubbles flies out, and a few of the pores and skin turns into stretched into these very lengthy threads, someday[s] so long as a few toes [more than half a meter] or so,” Don Swanson, a analysis geologist on the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, beforehand informed Live Science.

Pele’s hair might be stunning, but it surely poses a hazard if it is ingested by consuming water, Swanson cautioned.

The present eruption is the newest of a protracted string of volcanic exercise at Kilauea. At an elevation of 4,009 toes (1,222 m) aboveground, the shield-shaped volcano has a magma-pumping system that extends greater than 37 miles (60 kilometers) under Earth, in keeping with the USGS. Kilauea has erupted 34 instances since 1952, and it erupted virtually constantly from 1983 to 2018 alongside its East Rift Zone. A vent at Halema’uma’u crater was house to an energetic lava pond and a vigorous gasoline plume from 2008 to 2018. 

Kilauea’s volcanic exercise additionally made headlines in May 2018, when the lava lake on the summit caldera drained simply because the Eastern Rift Zone revved to life with lava fountains and new fissures, whose lava created a red-hot river that destroyed tons of of homes earlier than draining into the ocean.

From December 2020 to May 2021, a summit eruption made a lava lake inside Halema’uma’u crater, and in August 2021, a collection of small earthquakes rattled the summit. 

Originally printed on Live Science.

Laura Geggel

Laura is an editor at Live Science. She edits Life’s Little Mysteries and studies on common science, together with archaeology and animals. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a web site on autism analysis. She has received a number of awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper close to Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor’s diploma in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a complicated certificates in science writing from NYU.

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