Kilauea Celebrates 29 Years of Eruption

Kilauea is, according to the United States Geological Service and the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, perhaps the world’s most active volcano. It has been erupting continuously since January 3, 1983. That’s 29 years! Since it began erupting in 1983 there has been a lot of research done on and around the lava spewing volcano. It is the youngest of all the Hawaiian volcanoes, and is the most southeastern volcano on the Island of Hawaii. Originally believed to be just a satellite of its giant neighbor, Mauna Loa, Kilauea was later discovered to be its own volcano with its own separate lava system.

Hawaiian Myth and the Volcano

Hawaiians appropriately named it “Kilauea”, which in Hawaiian means “spewing” or “much spreading” in reference to the lava flows which so often erupt from the volcano. According to Hawaiian myth, Kilauea is home to the goddess of fire, Pele. Many Hawaiian myths speak of the eruptions that happened due to Pele’s anger. She is believed to be a Mother Goddess because, as is evident on the Big Island, she holds within her the power of destruction and creation. As lava flows destroy everything they cross they also create more land as the molten lava meets the ocean, cools, and solidifies.

Current Activity

The eruption that began in 1983 continues today at the Pu’u O’o cinder-and-spatter cone. The lava that comes out of this cone then flows down the Pulama pali where it enters the ocean. When the lava flows heavily the steam and smoke created where the molten lava meets the cool pacific is breathtaking; plumes of steam and smoke are the backdrop to the black cliff faces which seem to cry tears ofglowing orange lava. Hawaii News Now reported that “Since 1983, lava flows buried almost 50 square miles of public and private land – blanketing native forests, miles of highway, and hundreds of structures. But it’s also added to the aina. Moltan lava flowing to the sea has produced about 500 new acres of land to the Big Island.”

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