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The small exposed hillcrest seen here is surrounded by recently cooled lava that’s been spilling across Hawaii’s Big Island since the Kilauea volcano started erupting on 4 May. As well as tumbling out of the volcano’s crater, the lava’s been seeping through fissures in the ground. While the lava is moving slowly, the long duration of the eruption has resulted in a flow that extends for 10km and has destroyed 700 homes. So far, 10,000 people have been displaced.
It’s actually the latest phase of a far longer eruption that’s been going on since 1983, making it the longest continuous eruption known to us. Hawaiians are so accustomed to the island’s volcanic activity and the presence of lava that they have a word, ‘kīpuka’, for spots like this one pictured. Kīpuka roughly translates as ‘openings’ or ‘islands’.