Hawaii’s Kīlauea Volcano Is Erupting Again—Here’s How to See It

The youngest and most active volcano on the Big Island, it’s expected to draw thousands of tourists

Volcanic eruption in Hawaii
Kīlauea erupts early on June 7, after months of signaling it was getting ready to burst. NPS / J. Wei

For the second time this year, Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano—the youngest and most active one on the Big Island—is erupting.

The shield volcano, a broad and gently sloping variety, began sending fiery yellow fountains of lava into the air starting around 4:44 a.m. local time Wednesday. Now, lava continues to bubble and flow across Kīlauea’s summit inside the Halemaʻumaʻu crater.

“Multiple fissures opened on the crater reestablishing a molten lava lake and lava fountains several hundred feet high were observed,” per the National Park Service.

Authorities say the eruption currently poses no threat to people or buildings.

“At this time there is NO indication that populated areas are threatened,” the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency posted on Twitter.

For the last month or so, Kīlauea had been hinting that it might erupt soon. Geophysicists noticed that the volcano’s angle had swelled, and their instruments recorded an uptick in earthquake activity.

On Tuesday evening, the volcano swelled even more, and a 3.5-magnitude earthquake shook the ground. Early the next morning, magma finally broke through the Earth’s surface.

Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory detected the eruption while monitoring a web camera pointed at the volcano’s summit. At first, the video stream showed only a glowing light within the crater. Soon, yellow-and-orange lava began spewing out.

Formed underwater some 280,000 years ago, Kīlauea erupted most recently from January to March this year. Before that, it had previously erupted from December 2020 to May 2021, as well as September 2021 to December 2022.

Its most destructive eruption in recent history occurred in April 2018, when the volcano’s Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater collapsed and released a torrent of lava. That natural disaster pummeled more than 700 buildings, devastated farmland, displaced residents and wiped out roads.

Since then, geophysicists think Kīlauea has been rebuilding its lava storage. Based on their estimates, they suspect the volcano has four months’ worth of lava at the ready, as Ken Hon, the observatory’s scientist-in-charge, tells the New York Times’ Remy Tumin.

That gives volcano aficionados plenty of time to travel to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and watch the eruption from a safe distance. The National Park Service expects the event to draw in thousands of travelers, and in anticipation of the influx, they’ve created a list of safe viewing locations.

“Witnessing the crust of an active lava lake being dragged into seething fountains is unforgettable,” per the park service. Volcano lovers can also watch the eruption at home via the USGS’s ongoing livestream.

Park officials have also released a list of safety precautions for visitors, such as sticking only to marked trails and overlooks, slowing down while driving and regularly checking the website for updated information and closures.

The park service also reminded travelers of the possible risks associated with volcanic gases, which can be especially hazardous to people with respiratory issues or heart conditions, pregnant individuals, infants and young children. Volcanoes mostly give off water vapor, but they also emit “significant amounts” of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and hydrogen halides, per the USGS.

Other potential hazards include “Pele’s hair,” or thin glass fibers that form when bubbles of volcanic gases stretch the surface of lava. Wind can carry the thread-like strands through the air, and they can break into tiny pieces of sharp, jagged glass. In some eruptions, ash and other rock and glass particles may also become airborne, which could cause skin and eye irritation, per the USGS.

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