The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Watch molten rock ooze from cracks in the Earth in Hawaii

A massive ripple of lava spilled from the Kilauea volcano on Sept. 23. (Video:
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The lava field on the Big Island is glowing orange at night as molten-hot rock flows freely from cracks in the Earth.

This is lava from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. It’s one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, with more than 60 eruptions since 1823. Lava is constantly gushing across the rift zones and turning the sky over the cauldron an eerie orange-red.

There are two types of lava, and both can emerge from Kilauea. Pahoehoe lava flows smooth and often cools into billowy textures — that’s what we’re seeing in this video. The other type — aa lava — doesn’t really “flow.” It resembles jagged rocks or large pieces of broken glass. It clinks and crackles as it inches across the landscape.

Kilauea is also the location of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You can hike across the lava field — black and crusty where lava from previous eruptions has cooled — and wind up at the shoreline, where it drips into the Pacific Ocean. At times it oozes molten goo and at others it creeps into neighborhoods and burns down structures.

The Big Island’s Kilauea volcano has been an active area since the 1983 Puu Oo eruption. The USGS says that the East Rift Zone flow has destroyed more than 200 structures in the decades since that eruption.