On April 30, the most active volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island split open, sending lava to disrupt residents and their homes. The floor of the volcano’s crater collapsed, resulting in the lava flowing back underground. This collapse caused small earthquakes to occur. Just a few days later, in the Leilani Estates neighborhood, the ground split open and lava began spewing out, shooting more than 200 feet into the air.
More than 17,000 residents were ordered to evacuate because of high chances of fire outbreak, as well as dangerous sulfide dioxide gas being released from the volcano and the fissures.
The ground continues to crack open, resulting in a heavier flow of lava and more gas being exposed.
The resulting highest magnitude earthquake Hawaii has experienced in more than 40 years, along with additional smaller ones, have also affected the residents, some of whom were already trying to evacuate.
Additionally, the lava flow has destroyed at least 35 structures, including 26 homes, and 18 fissures have been reported. Fires have spread throughout neighborhoods as a trail from the lava, leaving behind burning cars, trees, and anything else that was left in the way.
Scientists have no way of predicting how much longer the eruption will occur.
Many residents consider the eruption to be a sign from the Hawaiian goddess Pele, and are seeking protection from her as their homes continue to be destroyed.
Pele is known as the goddess of fire and creator of Hawaii’s landscape, and many native Hawaiians believe lava to be the physical form of the goddess.
Michele Marzullo, an educational assistant at South, has property, including a yurt, in Hawaii, in the zone of destruction. Although she is worried about the fate of her property, she has faith in Pele and believes the goddess is in control.
“It’s just a reminder that Pele – she rules. It’s her land, her island. It’s hers.”
While this volcanic eruption has been, and continues to be, destructive, residents are remaining hopeful and have faith in their goddess of fire.