Volcano Watch: Kīlauea eruptive events rival the excitement of July Fourth fireworks

(Volcano Watch is a weekly article written by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.)

With July 4th just around the corner, we look forward to the long-standing traditions of Independence Day—parades, picnics, and especially, fireworks! The holiday hardly seems complete without a brilliant display of pyrotechnics as its grand finale. It’s fun to hear delighted spectators “ooh” and “ahh” with each boom and burst of color as exploding fireworks light the night sky.

On the Island of Hawaiʻi, similar sounds of wonder and delight can be heard on Kīlauea Volcano, which, for many years, has captivated onlookers with its own version of “fireworks.” From small flows oozing at a snail’s pace to torrents of molten rock shooting skyward, red-hot lava attracts crowds of enthralled observers, like moths to a flame.

So, with the Fourth of July serving as inspiration, this week’s Volcano Watch is a photo essay featuring notable images from Kīlauea Volcano’s two ongoing eruptions: East Rift Zone (Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō), which began in 1983, and summit (Halemaʻumaʻu), which began in 2008.

Kīlauea has been erupting nearly non-stop for the past 34-plus years. But those years have been punctuated with stunning and dramatic eruptive events that rival the island’s best fireworks shows. Examples include the episodic high lava fountains erupted during the first few years of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō eruption and the spectacular fireworks-like displays of incandescent spatter from the explosive interaction of lava and seawater at ocean entries.

Have a safe and happy July Fourth holiday—and enjoy these “fiery” images of Kīlauea. More eruption photos are available on the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website: volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/k….

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