The volatile Kilauea volcano, known for its frequent eruptions over the past few decades, is back at it. Lava spewed from its crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Thursday and caused hundreds of local residents to evacuate. Here are 11 photos of Kilauea erupting in Hawaii.
Kilauea lies on the state's biggest island, and is the most active of the five volcanoes that form the island. Geographically, it doesn't stick out like some other famous volcanoes in the state — think of the enormous (and dormant) Haleakala volcano, for example — because most of it lies underwater. But what it lacks in prominence, it makes up in destructive capacity. Kilauea erupts regularly; since 1983 it's destroyed communities and spouted so much lava that 500 new acres of land have been added to the island, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Warnings of a possible new eruption had been coming for days. The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that lava was flowing down Kilauea's east slope after a series of earthquakes (hundreds of minor tremors and one big 5.0 quake) rocked the island. Geologist Janet Babb warned that "an eruption is possible because magma is clearly moving through the East Rift Zone and it could come to the surface" and noted that any eruption would likely be "pretty vigorous."
That's just what happened. Kilauea erupted on Thursday evening, threatening locals with lava flows and dangerous sulfur dioxide gas. The Hawaii County Civil Defense asked the residents of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens — around 1,700 people — to evacuate to shelters.
"I urge residents in Leilani Estates and the surrounding areas to follow instructions," Governor David Ige tweeted on Thursday. "Please be alert and prepare now to keep your family safe."
Here are some striking images shared on social media from Kilauea's eruption.
At Leilani Estates
Leilani Estates, which has a population of about 1,500 people, was one of the major communities affected by the evacuations.
From A Helicopter
National Geographic photographer Andrew Richard Hara took this photo aboard a Blue Hawaiian helicopter. "Mahalo to @bluehawaiianhelicopters for donating aerial time to help us capture footage of the current eruption at Leilani Estates for our community's awareness," he wrote on Instagram.
Taken By The Island's Electric Company
Hawaii Electric Light was working furiously on Thursday to shut down power in the areas affected by the eruption and reroute power to other areas.
Pele, Goddess Of Fire
When posting this photo on Istagram, user @alohaliciouslife wrote that the pink flume reminded her of the deity Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes who was said to have created the Hawaiian islands.
From A Drone
Local Jeremiah Osuna captured this image from a drone above the eruption. Speaking with Honolulu-based news outlet KHON, he said that the scene looked like a "curtain of fire" and "sounded like if you were to put a bunch of rocks into a dryer and turn it on as high as you could. You could just smell sulfur and burning trees and underbrush and stuff."
Sulfur Dioxide Gas
Fire officials told residents to be wary of dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide present in the air.
Just Before The Fissure Opened
Vacation rental company Volcano Hideaways wrote that some of its members hiked to a good vantage spot in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park after the 5.0 earthquake on Wednesday morning. The company took this photo of Kilauea's foreboding pink plumes less than an hour before the fissure officially erupted.
This shot from a United States Geological Survey drone shows the lava flow coming from Kilauea.
Instagram user @yogawithaloha took this photo of the volcano's smoke clouds, which are made up of the aforementioned sulfur gases as well as carbon dioxide, water, and sometimes ash.
A Red Flume
Photographer Travis Craig took this photo on Wednesday morning soon after the floor of Kilauea's Pu'u 'O'o crater caved in. The collapse opened the volcano's fissure for lava to flow out.
The Eruption Itself
The United States Geological Survey shared these astonishing images on Twitter. In the first, red ash from the eruption coats the camera lens.
It is not yet clear how long Kilauea will continue to erupt, according to Time. For now, residents are encouraged to stay in local shelters until they are told that it is safe to leave.