Get a Close-Up Look at Hawaii's Latest Volcanic Eruption

It has five-story lava fountains.

The eruption within Halema'uma'u, at Kīlauea summit
Photo by B. Carr for USGS

When I was younger, volcanos seemed so cool with all of the red-hot magma and seemingly slow-moving lava. As an adult, the idea of a volcanic eruption is terrifying. And if you haven't heard, there is one going on right now.

Kīlauea volcano, in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, started to erupt on September 29, 2021. Located on the large island of Hawaii, the summit called Halema'uma'u crater started turning into a lava lake around 3:29 pm and has been progressing since. Although this most recent eruption is in what government officials define as the opening phase, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) says that activity is confined within the Halema'uma'u crater. The USGS has been using survey cameras to keep a close watch on the situation.

In a tweet from the USGS account, the government agency detailed that the lava fountains that appeared on the surface of the Halema'uma'u crater reached over the height of a five-story building. Matador Network reports that the last time the volcano went through an explosive period was sometime in the 1500s. That period ended with estimated 2,000-foot high lava fountains that unfortunately took hundreds of lives. Since then, the volcano has alternated between effusive (when lava steadily flows out of a volcano onto the ground) and more explosive states, with its most recent eruption in 2020.

Although this eruption is on the calmer side than past eruptions, there are currently warnings in place. The Halema'uma'u crater has been closed off from the public since 2007. However, ashfall, fragments of volcanic glass, and volcanic gases could still be present in higher levels in areas accessible to the public in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park regions. Gases such as Sulfur dioxide, which creates volcanic smog, is an airborne health hazard and can damage crops and livestock.

For updates, follow USGS on Twitter, where detailed and near real-time video and photo accounts of the eruption are regularly shared.

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Janae Price is a News Staff Writer at Thrillist. She's a native New Yorker and loves all things cheese, K-pop, and culture. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @janae_larie.