Video Shows Hawaii's Kīlauea Volcano Shooting Five-Storey-High Lava Fountain

The erupting Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii continues to simmer, and footage has been released of a lava "fountain" shooting molten rock several meters up into the air.

On Thursday afternoon, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) tweeted that lava fountains had appeared in the lake of molten rock inside Kīlauea's Halema'uma'u crater.

The fountains, the agency said, reach the height of a five-story building. The tweet included a video of a dominant lava fountain positioned south of the lake's center.

Lava fountains reach height of a 5-story building as #KilaueaErupts. Beginning Sep 29, lava fountains appeared on surface of the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u crater. Video shows dominant fountain south of the lake center. Stay informed, track conditions:

— USGS Volcanoes🌋 (@USGSVolcanoes) September 30, 2021

The bubbling mass of orange liquid continuously ejects clumps of lava high into the air, which land on the dark surface of the molten rock lake around it. Small, slow waves travel hypnotically across the lake's surface.

Kīlauea started erupting on Wednesday afternoon at around 3:21 p.m. HST (9:21 p.m. EDT), prompting the USGS to raise its current volcano alert level to "warning," meaning a hazardous eruption is imminent or underway, and its aviation color code to "red," meaning a significant emission of volcanic ash is likely.

The eruption is located within a closed area of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. The area surrounding the Halemaʻumaʻu crater has been closed to the public since 2007 due to its hazardous nature.

The agency's primary concern now is high levels of volcanic gas that can travel down-wind. Sulfur dioxide is one such emission, and tends to react in the atmosphere to produce a haze known as volcanic smog, or "vog." This creates the potential for airborne health hazards to locals and can also be harmful to crops and animals.

Emissions of sulfur dioxide from Kīlauea are now high and have been estimated at around 85,000 tonnes per day just after the eruption started.

Meanwhile, the Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake has been rising by around one meter per hour since Kīlauea started erupting, the USGS said on Thursday.

It added that the maximum lava fountain height so far is estimated to have reached nearly 100 feet.

Lava fountains are caused by the rapid formation of gas bubbles within a mass of molten rock, which force jets of lava high into the air.

According to the USGS they tend to reach heights of between 30 and 330 feet, but some have been recorded reaching heights of over 1,640 feet. Imagine a jet of lava taller than the Empire State Building.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is continuing to monitor Kīlauea's activity and will issue daily updates until further notice. Updates can be found on the USGS website here, while information on gas hazards can be found here.

Kīlauea has an active volcano and has erupted a number of times in the past.

Lava fountain
A file photo of a lava fountain, pictured during a previous Kīlauea eruption in May, 2018. Lava fountains are caused by the formation of bubbles under the surface. Frizi/Getty