A crater wall on Kilauea volcano partially collapsed in Hawaii, causing a massive explosion that sent molten lava, rocks and gas flying through the air.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, the explosion and the subsequent formation of the mushroom cloud was caused by the disintegration of a wall.
As per USGS geologist Janet Bab, the initial impact and the resultant explosion was like striking the mouth of the bottle of a champagne with a hammer. She said:
You look at the bottle and you see the liquid, but you don’t see the gas. There’s a lot of gas in the lava. And so, when that rock fall hits the lava lake, it’s like the moment you knock the top of the champagne bottle off and that gas is released and it hurls molten lava and rock fragments.
She further explained that gases emitting from lava had altered the rocks on top, and when they finally creaked and collapsed into the lava, it caused a massive explosion. The reaction was so strong that the material flew as many as 280 feet in the air.
The lava lake below the rocks had reached record levels in the past week, as per the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and if it continues like that, experts believe there could be more such explosions. An observatory scientist said:
As long as magma supply is elevated, we expect continued high lava lake levels accompanied by additional overflows. We expect continued rockfalls, intermittent explosions and ash fall, and continued high levels of gas release.
The New York Times says that an overflowing lava lake like this one hadn’t formed since 1974. Hence, it is a major cause of concern for the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, and they’re keeping an eye on the eruption.
Check out the footage of the explosion down below: