These Freshly Erupted Hawaiian Lava Flows Are Nothing Short Of Spectacular

Peeking inside a lava tube, an insulating feature that allows the internal lava to flow incredibly rapidly. USGS

The photographs show a mixture of two types of lava flow, pahoehoe and a’a. The former flow type is typified by smooth, ropey surfaces, and overall they take on a thin, elongate shape. The latter is far rougher and clinkery at the surface, and flows of this variant tend to be thicker and perhaps shorter. Essentially, slow-cooling, slow-moving lava tends to form pahoehoe, whereas the opposite forms a’a.

Kilauea itself is powered by a (somewhat wonky) mantle plume, an upwelling of superheated material from Earth’s mantle. As the tectonic plate Hawaii rests on drifts around, the hotspot remains stationary, and so the volcanic hotspot at the surface keeps moving, so in the future, Kilauea will “die” and another volcano will form and take over nearby.

The youngest volcanic feature is an underwater active volcano, or seamount, called Loihi, which will emerge from the sea somewhere between 10,000 to 100,000 years from now.

Pahoehoe lava making its way to the coast. The underlying material is likely to be far hotter than that seen at the surface. USGS

One of the lava flows, as seen from the air. Mick Kalber via Vimeo

A topographic map of Hawaii, with Loihi seamount circled in red. Semhur/Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA 3.0

[H/T: Popular Science]

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