Kīlauea volcano
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Huge Lava Flow Engulfs Cars and Everything Else In Its Way


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In today's world, it's safe to say humans have become overconfident in their understanding of and ability to predict nature. Every so often, we see our inferiority exposed by Mother Nature's spontaneity and dominant strength, which typically ends in a natural disaster plaguing a community that seemingly could never have been prepared for such an event. We feel safe within our minimal safety precautions, and find ourselves in utter chaos when they fail us. In fact, there are a number of natural disasters with the ability to wipe us out if we aren't mindful of the destructive force they bring to the table. However, few of these events highlight just how dangerous our planet is like an active volcano. Within the United States, Hawaii has historically been the hotbed for volcanoes, and is home to one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, the Kilauea Volcano.

One of the most active volcanoes on earth is Kilauea Volcano on the big island. Volcanic gas emissions, lava fountains and lava flows are common on the shield volcano.

When it decides to erupt, there is nothing humans can do to stop the flow of hot magma from destroying anything and everything in its path bringing a literal hell on earth to the island's populated areas. In 2018, the small community of Leilani Estates felt nature's wrath directly and footage of the eruption from the Kilauea caldera is jaw-dropping to watch.

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We're sure there were some awkward conversations with insurance agencies after this. Was that Mustang really covered in case of lava flow? We're not sure, maybe that's standard coverage in Hawaii. While Leilani Estates is a good 30 or 40 miles from the summit of K?lauea in the boundaries of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, that did not keep them safe. The community sits directly in the path of the lower east rift zone which USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists consider to be part of the greater summit caldera.

The new lava flows seen here did not come from the top of the mountain. Instead, they are the result of new fissure vents forming. Emission rates were high, and a literal lava pond engulfed much of the small community. Over 600 homes were destroyed in the event and nearly $800 million in damages occurred. While there were injuries, no one was killed. It is common to see summit eruptions at K?lauea. Especially near the Halema?uma?u crater, which is a place of near-constant activity. There is often a literal lava lake in Halema'uma'u crater that wows tourists from all over the world. It is not uncommon for a portion of the lava lake to glow red-hot with fire.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, this volcano has been erupting for at least the last 1,000 years and likely will continue to see activity for many more to come. That is why the USGS and NPS are constantly updating alert levels on their websites, to keep residents up to date on the threat level. It's crazy to think that the forces you saw at work here are what shaped the Earth as we know it.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

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