Kilauea, the second largest volcano in Hawaii, began erupting on Wednesday after a three-month pause, U.S. Geological Survey officials said.
The survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a statement that a glow was detected in webcam images from Kilauea’s summit early in the morning, indicating that an eruption was occurring within the Halema’uma’u crater in the summit caldera.
The images show fissures at the base of the crater generating lava flows on the crater floor’s surface, the observatory said.
Before issuing the eruption notice, the observatory said increased earthquake activity and changes in the patterns of ground deformation at the summit started Tuesday night, indicating the movement of magma in the subsurface.
All activity is within a closed area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on Hawaii’s Big Island.
The volcano’s alert level was raised to warning status and the aviation color code went to red as scientists evaluated the eruption and associated hazards.
Ken Hon, Scientist-in-Charge at Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said that this eruption could be one of the largest since the lava has already completely covered the floor of Halema’uma’u.
“We don’t expect it to have any impact outside of Halema’uma’u crater at all,” said Hon.
“We’ve been kind of waiting and expecting this for a couple of weeks right now,” Hon added of the inflation of Kilauea, which has been observed at the largest it’s been in a few years.
Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, erupted from September 2021 until last December. For about two weeks in December, Hawaii’s biggest volcano, Mauna Loa, also was erupting on Hawaii’s Big Island.
After a short pause, Kilauea began erupting again in January. That eruption lasted for 61 days, ending in March.
A 2018 Kilauea eruption destroyed more than 700 homes.
Before the major 2018 eruption, Kilauea had been erupting since 1983, and streams of lava occasionally covered farms and homes. During that time, the lava sometimes reached the ocean, causing dramatic interactions with the water.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.