Kilauea, Hawaii’s youngest and most active volcano, has been in an active cycle since 1983.
The eruption turned explosive after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake rocked the island in late April.
Since then, 25 fissures have opened, pouring masses of lava across Big Island.
This is being cited as an unprecedented event, as there are two eruptions occurring simultaneously: the eruption at Kilauea’s summit crater as well as along the six-mile string of fissures down its east flank.
Is Kilauea still erupting?
The volcano is still erupting, and scientists are unable to predict an end.
Fissure 8 has proven the most active and continues to fountain lava 160ft (50 metres) into the air.
The US Geological Survey said the “well-established” channel of lava from Fissure 8 is open all the way to the ocean, forming a river of lava which is snaking across the island.
Last night the USGS tweeted that the fissure’s vigour had increased.
The USGS said: “The lava channel runs very full with numerous slow-moving overflows that build up channel levees.”
Lava is now covering a 9.4 square mile area of Big Island and the lava delta caused by the flow into the ocean is about 360 acres in size.
The lava delta has redesigned the map, filling in the area previously known as Kapoho Bay.
Up at the summit, the volcano’s main crater has slumped and collapsed, with a GPS station used by the USGS sinking 60m into the crater in the past week.
The reason for the slumping of the caldera – the official term for a large volcanic crater – is the drainage of magma from the reservoir within the volcano.
This lava lake is draining into the fissures, which in turn push out through the earth and make their way across the land.
What is the damage?
Since this period of intense activity began, the volcano has presented Big Island residents with a host of hazards.
There is laze – lava haze – a deadly mix of hydrochloric acid fumes, steam and tiny specks of volcanic glass, created when lava hits the ocean.
Vog – volcanic smog – is also a concern, a toxic sulphuric gas emitted by opening fissures.
Methane gas is also emitted from vegetation, which is being killed by the vog, and then explodes as it makes contact with lava.
And then there is the lava itself: approximately 700 homes have been destroyed since May 3, mostly in the Leilani Estates and Kapoho Bay area.
Approximately 3,000 people have had to flee their homes as the lava continues to cut through homes, roads and escape routes on its march to the sea.
No one has been killed by this explosion, but one man was seriously injured when he was hit in the leg by a lava bomb.
Tourists have been warned to stay away from the volcano, which sits in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and are being threatened with fines for entering zones closed off to the public.
The island’s geothermal plant was engulfed by lava, but the damage has not yet been assessed.
The last eruption of this nature at Kilauea lasted for 60 years.