Kīlauea Volcano: Rare Landspout Phenomenon Filmed Over Hawaiian Lava Flows

A rare phenomenon was caught on camera above Hawaii's Kīlauea volcano as it spewed out lava on Thursday.

Videographer Mick Kalber was flying aboard a helicopter belonging to tour operator Paradise Helicopters at sunrise when he spotted dramatic columns of steam rising hundreds of feet above an area of the volcano known as the East Rift Zone.

These tube-shaped formations are known as landspouts—mini tornadoes which, unlike normal tornadoes, are not associated with the rotating updraft (mesocyclone) of a thunderstorm, according to The Weather Network.

They are usually relatively weak and short-lived, lasting just a few minutes, and tend to spin slower than normal tornadoes, although they still pose a risk to people and property. They usually form from the ground up toward a cloud, (in contrast to normal tornadoes which form downwards from the cloud).

"We've seen that at the ocean, when a lot of lava goes in fast into the water, it creates that same phenomenon," Kalber was quoted as saying by Global News. "It will swirl, and it will make this clockwise motion and it will sometimes spin off vortices, but we've never seen them over land before."

A view of the Kīlauea crater taken on January 23, 2018. On Thursday, a rare phenomenon was caught on camera above the volcano as it spewed out lava. Howard Ignatius

Kalber, who has spent years documenting Kīlauea, thinks that intense wind, high humidity and heavy rainfall over the volcano's lava flows created the perfect conditions for the rare landspouts to form. Rainwater from the heavy downpour likely seeped into cracks in the lava field, creating steam that then began swirling due to the climactic conditions.

And landspouts weren't the only impressive sight Kalber spotted that morning. The helicopter crew also witnessed a rare pink rainbow, which they had never seen before.

A "pink rainbow, amazing land spouts and a veritable plethora of lava flows made for a spectacular lava overflight this morning," Kalber wrote in a Vimeo post.

Kīlauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes with at least 34 eruptions to its name since 1952. There has been continuous volcanic activity in the East Rift Zone since 1983.