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Incredible Photos Show Rivers Of Lava Flowing Through Neighborhoods In Hawaii

The fast-moving lava flowed through residential areas and tropical forests before cascading off the coast into the ocean.

Posted on May 21, 2018, at 12:40 a.m. ET

Lava erupts from fissures on May 18 along Kilauea volcano's lower East Rift Zone.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Lava erupts from fissures on May 18 along Kilauea volcano's lower East Rift Zone.

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has been putting on a fiery show on the Big Island — and it’s been heating up in recent days.

The activity started more than two weeks ago, when fissures located along the lower slopes of Kilauea, known as the East Rift Zone, broke open and started spewing lava. The lava flowed into residential neighbors, forcing nearly 2,000 people to evacuate.

Since then, more than 20 fissures have opened up across the area, spraying lava as well as toxic gases into the air. At least 40 structures have been destroyed and on Saturday one person was injured by a “lava bomb” that hit him while he was sitting on his porch.

The US Geological Survey says that the lava is starting to move faster because it is fresher than the magma that was previously being pushed to the surface. At its peak, the flow was moving up to 400 yards per hour, according to USGS.
US Geological Survey

The US Geological Survey says that the lava is starting to move faster because it is fresher than the magma that was previously being pushed to the surface. At its peak, the flow was moving up to 400 yards per hour, according to USGS.

Over the weekend, the lava coming out of the fissures started moving faster, flowing downslope, where it crossed a highway and met the ocean. As lava flowed into the ocean, it created a massive white plume, posing a new hazard known as “laze” — a mix of hydrochloric acid and fine glass particles, according to the US Geological Survey.

Lava flows downslope Sunday and enters the ocean, but a laze plume obscures the point of entry. Laze forms from the evaporation of seawater when hot lava enters the ocean, creating a condensed seawater steam that is laced with hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles.
USGS

Lava flows downslope Sunday and enters the ocean, but a laze plume obscures the point of entry. Laze forms from the evaporation of seawater when hot lava enters the ocean, creating a condensed seawater steam that is laced with hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles.

A photo taken Sunday morning from a helicopter shows where lava entered the ocean. A home is seen at the edge of the flow.
USGS

A photo taken Sunday morning from a helicopter shows where lava entered the ocean. A home is seen at the edge of the flow.

Lava from a Kilauea volcano fissure flows on Hawaii's Big Island on Friday night.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Lava from a Kilauea volcano fissure flows on Hawaii's Big Island on Friday night.

Lava is seen erupting near a home at dawn on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Lava is seen erupting near a home at dawn on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18.

Residents watch lava erupting at a small viewing party on someone's porch Saturday night.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Residents watch lava erupting at a small viewing party on someone's porch Saturday night.

This aerial photo taken Saturday shows fissures spewing lava into the air. Because of the recent eruptions, residents have been warned of increased sulfur dioxide levels and are urged to take action to limit exposure.
USGS

This aerial photo taken Saturday shows fissures spewing lava into the air. Because of the recent eruptions, residents have been warned of increased sulfur dioxide levels and are urged to take action to limit exposure.

Lava covers a road, pulling down a transportation sign and electricity wires. The National Park Services and the Hawaii Department of Transportation are working to clear hardened lava off of Chain of Craters Road in order to open it up as an evacuation route.
Andrew Richard Hara / Getty Images

Lava covers a road, pulling down a transportation sign and electricity wires. The National Park Services and the Hawaii Department of Transportation are working to clear hardened lava off of Chain of Craters Road in order to open it up as an evacuation route.

Lava shoots into the air overnight.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Lava shoots into the air overnight.

Lava seen spraying from a fissure Thursday.
Andrew Richard Hara / Getty Images

Lava seen spraying from a fissure Thursday.

Photos from a helicopter overflight of Kilauea's lower East Rift Zone Saturday shows lava flows emerging and moving downslope.
USGS

Photos from a helicopter overflight of Kilauea's lower East Rift Zone Saturday shows lava flows emerging and moving downslope.

A structure is seen next to an erupting lava fissure on Pohoiki Road on Friday. Three shelters have been opened for people who have had to evacuate because of the lava threat.
Marco Garcia / AP

A structure is seen next to an erupting lava fissure on Pohoiki Road on Friday. Three shelters have been opened for people who have had to evacuate because of the lava threat.

Lava shoots into the air from fissures along the volcano's lower East Rift Zone.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Lava shoots into the air from fissures along the volcano's lower East Rift Zone.

The lava flowed through state forest reserve lands, burning hundreds of trees.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

The lava flowed through state forest reserve lands, burning hundreds of trees.

Here, the lava flow splits into two channels as it moves toward the ocean.
USGS

Here, the lava flow splits into two channels as it moves toward the ocean.


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