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Focus-Science and Technology - - CONTENTS - OLIVIER GRUNEWALD

PĀHOA, HAWAII

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’.

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