Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is erupting again after months of quiet

CNN  — 

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began erupting again after nearly three months of quiet, with glowing lava flows bursting within one of its craters Sunday, according to the US Geological Survey.

The eruption started around 3:15 p.m. local time in Halemaʻumaʻu crater in Kilauea’s summit caldera at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, according to USGS. Kilauea is the youngest and most active volcano on the island, with several summit eruptions since 2020.

By Monday, USGS officials said the volcano alert level had been lowered to a “watch” instead of a “warning” due to the eruption stabilizing. “The initial extremely high effusion rates have declined, and no infrastructure is threatened,” the USGS said in a statement.

Similarly, Kilauea’s activation color code was lowered from red to orange due to “no threat of significant volcanic ash emission into the atmosphere outside of the hazardous closed area within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park,” according to the statement.

When the volcano started erupting Sunday, it was “preceded by a period of strong seismicity and rapid uplift of the summit,” USGS said Sunday night.

Video showed lava spewing from fissures at the crater’s base, but the activity was confined to the crater.

“At this time, lava at Kilauea is confined to the summit and does not pose a lava threat to communities,” the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said Sunday.

With the volcano erupting, the primary concerns are volcanic gas and delicate strands of volcanic glass – called Pele’s hair – that can float downwind, according to the agency.

“Strong winds may waft lighter particles to greater distances,” USGS said in an alert. “Residents and visitors should minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation.”

Kilauea last erupted briefly in June, putting on a dazzling display with lava fountain bursts about 200 feet high. The eruption ended on June 19, according to USGS.

Kilauea also erupted in January, after it stopped in December for the first time since September 2021, when there was an eruption in which lava was contained to Kilauea’s summit crater.

But a previous eruption in 2018 was one of the most destructive in recent Hawaii history, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing evacuations of surrounding neighborhoods.

“Since that 2018 activity, Kilauea has experienced nearly constant change with distinct episodes of calm, unrest, eruptions, and everything in between,” USGS said.

Sunday’s eruption at Kilauea serves as “a solemn reminder of the sacredness ingrained in this landscape,” Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park said on social media.

“The privilege to witness the creative forces of a new eruption comes with a responsibility to approach this place with reverence,” the national park added.

In native Hawaiian tradition, eruptions have spiritual significance and Kilauea’s summit is sacred, believed to be the home of Pele the Hawaiian volcano deity, according to the National Park Service.

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