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Earlier this week, a lava lake churning within a crater near the summit of Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano rose to record heights, offering visitors a rare glimpse of molten lava splattering above the vent rim before it overflowed late Tuesday night.
Visitors have been flocking to see the breathtaking spectacle, according to the Hawaii Tribune Herald.
“The lava lake has existed since 2008, but has been deep within the Overlook crater and not visible from overlooks in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park,” USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Spokeswoman Janet Babb said.
Visitors to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park can see the lake surface, and molten lava spattering above the vent rim for the first time since its formation, according to USGS.
The lava lake, which is located within the Overlook crater, one of Kilauea's two active vents, has risen about 25 meters (82 feet) since April 22. On Tuesday April 28, the lava lake overflowed the vent rim for the first time at about 9:40 p.m. HST, USGS reported.
As of noon on Wednesday, the lava lake had overflowed the vent rim several more times.
While the lava has fluctuated since the lake formed, for much of the past year, the level was approximately 30-60 meters below the vent rim.
It had risen to about three to four meters, or 10 feet, below the vent rim as of Tuesday, which was the highest level USGS has measured since the summit eruption began in March 2008, according to Babb.
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USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory
“Now that the lake has risen, it can be seen from park overlooks, such as the one at Jaggar Museum,” Babb said.
“Overflow of lava will remain in Halema`uma`u Crater and will not pose a threat to people."
It is possible the lake will return to lower levels in the near future.
“We identified paths of steepest descent for the lava flows on Kilauea's East Rift Zone, which helped us forecast where the active lava might go.”
The summit lava lake is not connected to the East Rift Zone lava flow that moved toward Pahoa in 2014.
Lava flowed almost 14 miles toward the community of Pahoa, which is located in the Puna District on the Island of Hawaii.
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