A lava flow on Hawaii’s Big Island that had stalled in November has picked up again and is moving toward a major traffic intersection of a small village. Although the main flow from Kīlauea volcano slowed weeks ago several yards from the main road and just feet from a recycling transfer plant, lava continues to spew from a vent near the volcano’s summit and is flowing down toward the former plantation town of Pahoa Village, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The leading edge of the lava flow is about 3.9 kilometers (2.4 miles) from the village. Officials said the flow did not pose an immediate threat to Pahoa after the lava advanced about 250 yards Monday but that it could continue to inch toward the community, which has watched the lava flow advance since the volcano began erupting in June. The lava flow could reach the traffic intersection by the end of the year, according to geologists.
At one point, the lava was moving toward the community at 10 to 15 yards per hour and threatened at least 50 homes. Several residents were evacuated in October. The lava flow engulfed its first home in November, an 1,100-square-foot structure that was destroyed in about 45 minutes.
The lava flow has been a source of awe for many island residents. On Monday, students from Keonepoko Elementary School, which was evacuated earlier because of the flow, had the chance to view the lava flow up close. "This lava flow has changed the lives of many people in Puna, and we wanted to make sure our school children who were most directly affected by the lava were among the first members of the public to visit the flow and see it up close,” Mayor Billy Kenoi said, according to Reuters.
Kīlauea volcano has erupted continuously from its Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent for 30 years. Many Hawaiian residents have considered Kīlauea’s lava flows a familiar part of island life.