The Hawaii volcano has been actively erupting since early May, but experts think it could continue for much, much longer.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory said that Kilauea has already covered approximately 12 square miles in lava, and broadened the island’s surface by some 700 acres. While the volcano has technically considered “erupting” since 1983, the last few months represent an explosive—and dangerous—escalation.
In their official report, the observatory said:
Given this volume and the sustained withdrawal of magma from the summit reservoir without appreciable deformation in the lower East Rift Zone, it is most likely that the LERZ eruption may continue for months to years.
Dozens of fissures have torn the surface of Hawaii’s “big island,” the most vicious of which is Fissure 8. The fissure continues to pump molten rock from the depths at about 100 cub meters per second from the Leilani Estates to the ocean, and has shown no sign of slowing.
“If the ongoing eruption maintains its current style of activity at a high eruption rate, then it may take months to a year or two to wind down,” said the HVO. “While this seems to be the most likely outcome, a pause in the eruption, followed by additional activity, cannot be ruled out, nor can an abrupt cessation or a transition to steady, longer-lived activity at a lower effusion rate.”
Their report has been passed on to the Hawaii County Civil Defense in preparation for any further complications. For now, it looks as if the volcanoes that created the Hawaiian islands may have ambitious plans for their expansion.