Explosive eruption reported from Hawaii's Kilauea

European Space Agency

Approximately 600 homes have been destroyed by lava flows on Hawaii's Big Island since the current eruption of Kilaeua Volcano began early last month, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says.

The eruption has spewed out enough lava to fill 45,400 Olympic-sized pools since it started, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

County civil defense officials had a day earlier put the confirmed number of homes destroyed during the past month at 130, all of them in and around the Leilani Estates community, where lava-spouting fissures opened up on the volcano's eastern flank on May 3.

"This is the hottest lava we've seen during this eruption", Wendy Stovall, a scientist with USGS told CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now.

The lava from Fissure 8 is feeding one channel that is flowing into the ocean at Kapoho Bay, creating land that now juts out almost a mile from the former shoreline.

European Space Agency
European Space Agency

The fast-moving lava poured into the low-laying coastal Hawaii neighborhoods in just two days this week, destroying hundreds of homes.

Lava has swamped the island's largest lake as well as the areas of Vacationland and Kapoho Bay.

"Lava continues to enter the ocean along a broad front in Kapoho Bay and the Vacationland area and it continues to creep north of what remains of Kapoho Beach Lots", said USGS geologist Janet Babb. The new land in Kapoho Bay is now owned by the state, but the peninsula won't look like the farmland that dominates that region of the Big Island anytime soon. That's almost 10 times the monthly historic average for seismic activity on Hawaii Island, according to the USGS.

"Rainfall really makes a difference", said Hawaii Volcanoes National Park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane. There was no lava activity from the other fissures but fissures 24, 9, and 10 were billowing gases, scientists said.

The latest eruption began early Tuesday morning and was so powerful that it spewed ash almost a mile into the air and sparked a 5.5 magnitude natural disaster, scientists say.

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