Resilience Natural Disasters

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is erupting again

All activity is confined to Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park.
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano.
This webcam image provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, from the west rim of the summit caldera, looking east, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. Hawaii’s Kilauea began erupting inside its summit crater Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, less than one month after the volcano and its larger neighbor Mauna Loa stopped releasing lava. ( U.S. Geological Survey via AP) ( U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

Story at a glance

  • The United States Geological Survey updated Kilauea’s alert level from ‘Watch’ to ‘Warning.’ 

  • The volcano’s eruption in 2018 was one of the most destructive in the state’s recent history, destroying over 700 homes.

  • The latest eruption comes after neighboring Mauna Loa erupted for the first time since 1984 in November of 2022. 

The Kilauea volcano in Hawaii resumed erupting on Thursday, following a short pause.  

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) elevated the volcano’s alert level from ‘Watch’ to ‘Warning,’ though all activity is currently confined to the volcano’s summit region, located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. 

Officials say there’s no indication of any activity outside the summit region.

The Kilauea volcano had been erupting continuously since Sept. 2021, but paused in Dec. 2022 amid the eruption of Mauna Loa volcano. 

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Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, erupted for the first time since 1984 in Nov. 2022. Lava flows did not threaten nearby communities, though the eruption led volcanic ash and debris to fall nearby. Both volcanoes stopped erupting within a day of each other in Dec. 2022.

Although the two volcanoes are neighbors, the USGS notes Kilauea’s eruption has not had an impact on Mauna Loa, which continues to remain quiet. 

According to an update issued last night, fountain bursts reached up to 50 meters high at the start of Kilauea’s eruption. 

“High levels of volcanic gas are the primary hazard of concern, as this hazard can have far-reaching effects down-wind,” officials said

Gasses can include water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide reacts with the atmosphere, creating volcanic smog, which can pose airborne health hazards and affect livestock and crops, they added. 

Kilauea’s eruption in 2018 destroyed over 700 homes and devastated residential areas.