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Kilauea Volcanic eruption

Where is the Kilauea volcano?

Kilauea is the biggest and most active of the island’s five volcanoes and is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

Located on the southern shore of Hawaii’s "Big Island" Kilauea has been erupting consistently since 1983 after a period of being dormant.

It is a shield-type volcano making up the south-eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii.

The volcano rises 4,190 feet above sea level and makes up around 14 per cent of the land area of the Big Island.


The summit caldera contains a lava lake known as Halema`uma`u that is said to be the home of the Hawaiian volcano goddess, Pele.

At first glance, Kilauea appears to be part of the larger volcano Mauna Loa.

However, geological data indicates that it is a separate volcano with its own vent and conduit system.

Kilauea has had more than 60 recorded eruptions in the current cycle, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and has been erupting on a continuous basis since 1983.

 Aerial view of the fissure that erupted on Kilauea on May 13 morning
Aerial view of the fissure that erupted on Kilauea on May 13 morning

What is happening to Kilauea?

  • On May 3, 2018, the volcano erupted dramatically several hours after a magnitude-5.0 quake struck the Big Island.
  • The eruption spewed lava into residential subdivisions in the Puna district of the Big Island, prompting mandatory evacuations of the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions
  • Lava flow on May 3 was caused by a series of earthquakes on the eastern side of the Big Island
  • The island's largest earthquake in more than 40 years struck a day later on May 4
  • The magnitude 6.9 tremor hit near the south part of the volcano, following a smaller quake that rattled the same area
  • On May 12, the USGS reported a shallow but small earthquake with a magnitude of 3.5 had struck the island
  • On the morning of May 13, new fissures roaring like jet engines and spewing magma opened up, piling lava as high as a four-story building
  • The 300m long crack is the 17th to have opened since the volcano began erupting
  • Locals say 45kg chunks of lava were hurled into the air as smoke and steam spewed into the air
  • On May 15, rumours circulated suggesting the volcano could cause a "mega-tsunami" – these claims were refuted by Hawaii County officials
  • On May 16, plumes of between 3,000 to 6,000 feet rose from the volcano
  • The Hawaiian Electric Company restored power to all 571 customers in Aiea affected by a power outage on the morning
  • On May 17, the volcano erupted sending a plume of ash six miles into the air – Kilauea was also blasting out "ballistic blocks" the size of kitchen appliances
  • On May 20, a man was injured by "lava splatter" - projectile molten rock - while he was sat on his balcony
 A man has been injured by 'lava splatter'
A man has been injured by 'lava splatter'
 Smoke and lava erupt from a fissure near a home on the outskirts of Pahoa
Smoke and lava erupt from a fissure near a home on the outskirts of Pahoa

How many people have been evacuated?

Since May 3, nearly 2,000 people in Puna in the southeast of the Big Island have been evacuated.

The lower Puna district of the Big Island is home to around 187,000 people.

The American Red Cross said 500 people sought refuge in its shelters overnight on Sunday, May 13 due to worsening volcanic activity.

At least two dozen homes have already been destroyed.

More evacuations are expected as more lava-belching cracks are expected to open near homes and across the Hawaiian countryside around 25 miles east of Kilauea.

It is feared that this could potentially block one of the last exit routes, Highway 132.

Hawaii National Guard spokesman Jeff Hickman has confirmed that more evacuations will be triggered if lava hits either of the island’s main highways – 132 and 137.