Massive Eruption at Kilauea Is Sending Glass 'Hair' Into The Sky, Pilots Report

According to the US Geological Survey and the National Weather Service, Kilauea volcano is currently erupting. This sends lava and thread-like pieces volcanic glass (known as Pele's Hair) into Hawaii's skies.
At 3:20 p.m. local Hawaii time on Wednesday, September 29, the eruption started when the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory saw a glow coming from Kilauea summit's webcam. The glow was a sign of a lava explosion at Halema'uma'u, a pit crater located in the larger Kilauea caldera or crater.

The webcam footage also showed fissures at Halema'uma'u'u crater, which were releasing lava flows onto lava lake's surface. This was active up until May 2021 according to the USGS in a statement.

Telephoto image showing fissures at Halema'uma'u Crater. (M. Patrick/USGS).

The eruption at Kilauea, located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii's Big Island, is however contained to Halema'uma'u, so it's not a danger to the public.

Similar: Photos: Fiery Lava from Kilauea volcano erupts onto Hawaii's Big Island

"At the moment, we don’t believe anyone or any residents are at risk, but we do want folks to know that the park remains open," Cyrus Johnasen (a spokesperson for Hawaii County) told Hawaii news station KHON2 Sept. 29.

"It will be open until the evening. He advised that people with respiratory problems should exercise caution.

According to the USGS, however, the area of the park where the eruptions are taking place is currently closed to the public.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory raised Kilauea's volcano alert from "watch" level to "warning" and changed its aviation code from orange to rouge to warn pilots of possible ash emission.

These are the highest warning levels and indicate that a major volcanic eruption is "imminent, underway, or suspected with hazardous activity both in the ground" according to the USGS.

Lava fountains are exploding at multiple fissures, September 30, Halema'uma'u. (B Carr/USGS).

According to the National Weather Service, pilots who flew near Kilauea Wednesday night reported seeing Pele's hair (volcanic glass).

When gas bubbles in lava burst at its surface, they create the golden, sharp strands that are named after Pele, Hawaiian goddess of fire, and volcanoes.

Don Swanson, a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory research geologist, said that the skin from the bursting bubbles is blown out and some of it becomes stretched into very long threads.

Swanson warned that although Pele's hair is beautiful, it can pose a risk if it's consumed through drinking water.

This eruption is the latest in a long line of volcanic activity at Kilauea. The shield-shaped volcano is located at 4,009 feet (1.222 m) aboveground. According to the USGS, its magma-pumping network extends more than 36 miles (60 km) below Earth. Kilauea has erupted 33 times since 1952. It also erupted nearly continuously from 1983 to 2018, along its East Rift Zone.

From 2008 to 2018, a vent at Halema'uma'u Crater was the home to an active gas plume and a lava pond.

Kilauea's volcanic activity was also in the news in May 2018. The lava lake at its summit caldera began to drain just as the Eastern Rift Zone was roaring to life with new fissures and lava fountains. This lava created a hot river that destroyed hundreds before rushing into the ocean.

Between December 2020 and May 2021, a summit volcano created a lava lake in Halema'uma'u'u crater. In August 2021, small earthquakes shaken the summit.

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Live Science originally published this article. You can read the original article here.