Kilauea Volcano's Fissure 8 Footage Gives Close-Up of Waves of Speedy Lava

Racing this lava would be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad plan.

by Josie Rhodes Cook

The lava from Kilauea’s eruption on the Big Island in Hawaii may look cool, but you don’t want to go anywhere near it. For one thing, it is extremely hot. For another, it’s apparently pretty fast.

Footage from Kilauea volcano’s Fissure 8 shows the lava flowing from it is very fast even for lava standards, and it’s not something you want to end up in the path of unless you’re a master sprinter. Here’s what you need to know.

How Fast Is It?

In Kilauea Volcano’s Eastern Rift Zone, “standing waves” in a channel of lava appeared at one point to be flowing at speeds up to 17 miles per hour, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. By comparison, a “brisk walking pace” for most humans is 3 miles per hour, so most people would be no match for this speedy lava.

Beautiful but deadly. 


Forbes reported Wednesday that anyone running at 17 mph would be going pretty fast, and that would be an impressive sprint even for someone in “good athletic shape.” At that rate, you could complete a 100-meter dash in about 13 seconds on a nice, normal, flat track, which is nothing like the terrain of Hawaii’s Big Island.

Basically, to get away from this lava, you would need to run like a bat out of hell and as fast as you could in another direction — and you’d need to be a pretty good runner in the first place.

Why Is It So Fast?

The river of lava streaming from Kilauea’s vent has sped up at a rate of 2 mph from previous recordings, The Daily Express reported Wednesday. And the “vigor” of the eruption reportedly increased as the temperature of the lava rose, which caused the magmatic flow to be smoother.

The lava Kilauea spews is also different from the lava from Guatemala’s Volcán de Fuego, which had dangerous pyroclastic flows — a mixture of hot lava blocks, pumice, ash, and volcanic gas.

Where Did This Fast Lava Come From?

The super quick lava channel mainly comes from Fissure 8, The Daily Express reported. It’s “very active” and has been sputtering lava released by Kilauea for some time.

So this lava is super hot, super fast, and is destroying everything in its path. CNN reports that lava from the Kilauea volcano now covers almost 6,000 acres since it first began erupting May 3, and that it’s destroyed around 500 homes. The last thing anyone should want to do in the face of all of that is try to race the lava, unless they have a death wish.

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