Kilauea Volcano: "Lava Balls" Are the Latest Problem Affecting Hawaii

It's not what is sounds like.

As the Kilauea volcano continues to spew lava onto the Big Island of Hawaii, more instances of unique aspects of volcanic activity emerge, such as the recently seen “lava balls.”

These balls of lava, also known as lava boats or lava bergs, can be seen in a new video that the United States Geological Survey (USGS) tweeted on Saturday. The time-lapse video shows lava flowing from Fissure 8, where accumulated cooled chunks are seen floating on top of the lava stream, hence the term lava boats or lava balls. Sometimes these orbs will break off from larger portions of cooled-off molten rock, and other times they’ll form when lava cools on the surface as it flows. The problem with lava balls is that they can accumulate to divert the flow of lava.

There has been a considerable amount of activity in the area surrounding the Kilauea volcano in recent days. A collapse explosion occurred on the volcano’s summit on Friday and Saturday that emitted ash-poor plume up to 2,000 feet above ground level, causing a 5.3-magnitude earthquake.

In a bit of good news, Mauna Loa, a volcano located near the center of the island of Hawaii, returned to “normal” after six months of seismic activity beneath the volcano’s summit.

The Kilauea volcano began erupting on May 3. Since that time, hundred of homes have been destroyed with thousands affected by the flow of lava. Scientists are still unsure when the volcano will stop erupting.

A beautiful side effect of the Kilauea eruption is the formation of gemstones in the area. Although these gems are not worth much, they do show the beauty of nature even as molten rock makes its way from the volcano into the ocean.

Media via NPS/J. Wei