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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Small Rockslide Causes Splatter Eruption on Kilauea

By Phil Plait

Last year, I visited the Big Island of Hawaii and spent a few hours looking over the Halema’uma’u crater on the Kilauea volcano. The crater is several hundred meters across, and on one side is the Overlook Crater, a vent that has lava pooled some dozens of meters below the rim.

… usually. In the past week or so pressure inside the caldera has forced the lava up, and on April 24, 2015, it overflowed the vent into Halema’uma’u itself.

Then, on May 3, a small part of the crater rim wall collapsed into the lava pool. What happened next was impressive.

Wow. Spatter from the eruption shot up far enough to land on the Halema’uma’u Overlook, a popular visitor spot that is now closed. Happily, the Jagger Museum and Volcano House around the rim are still open.

It’s not clear what will happen here over the next few weeks and months. In September, I’ll be there again for Science Getaways. I wonder what we’ll see?

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