Kilauea volcano’s lava lake officially overflows for the first time in 30 years

In over 30 years, the floor of Halema’uma’u crater in Hawaii had not seen lava flowing onto its floor. Overnight, the volcano’s volatile lava lake spilled over the rim of a deep vent within Halema’uma’u crater several times. The lava splashed onto the edges of the vent like a pool overflowing in this deep, vast pit located at the top of Kilauea volcano. The crater’s position poses no risk to people or structures according to geologist Matt Patrick from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory because of where the lava lake sits.

Although the lava poses no risk to structures or people, it has, in fact, reached the wall of Halema’uma’u crater that prompted rock falls and remarkable blasts as cold rock smashed the hot lava. Patrick reported that yesterday, Apr. 28, 2015, a rock fall flung molten rock 280 feet high onto the edge of Halema’uma’u crater. The lava then landed on devices that were monitoring the churning lake’s exterior and charred an old fence that was in place.

Since February 2010 when the lava lake emerged, it had never reached the crater’s rim until yesterday. The lava lake has ascended to 72 feet high right on the crater’s rim and has plummeted more than 720 feet below the rim at its lowest level. Kilauea volcano has a long history of summit eruptions, and the most recent was in 1982.

In a region called the East Rift Zone, Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983 where it has wrecked more than 200 structures and submerged more than 9 miles of highway.

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