Science Wednesday – May 1, 2019

It’s Science Wednesday! On May 3, 2018, an eruption on Kīlauea volcano’s East Rift Zone on the Big Island of Hawaii began. Outbreaks of lava fountains up to 300 feet (90 m) high, lava flows, and volcanic gas in the Leilani Estates subdivision were preceded by earthquakes and ground deformation that created cracks in the roads.

Pictured here is where the lava met the ocean at Isaac Hale Beach Park (Pohoiki Black Sand Beach), which we visited yesterday. Part of the park was destroyed. The land we’re standing on? Some of the youngest on the island, at less than one year old! A new black sand beach is forming as the ocean water erodes the new cooled lava flows.

By August 7, 2018, 13.7 square miles (35 square kilometers) of land had been covered by lava flows, and about 875 acres (3.54 square kilometers) of new land had been created!

When studying geology, we typically study events that happened hundreds to thousands to millions of years ago. So, it’s pretty amazing when we can see geology in action on a much shorter timeframe like in Hawaii!