When you first have a look at this fiery blob, you wonder if you may be looking at an outtake from a new superhero movie. Surely it is some alien aircraft that has landed on Earth – that Superman needs to destroy? Or Iron Man?
Well no that would be incorrect it is actually the very rare occurrence of the lava dome fountain. This 65-foot fountain of lava shoots up from an active volcano. And though undoubtedly a scary sight, one can not help but think it is rather cool. When a volcano erupts it generally shoots straight up in powerful jets of lava, kind of like a fountain going out of control.
However, this photo which was taken in 1969 in Hawaii erupted symmetrically which made this epic looking dome-shaped lava fountain. This photo was taken during the Mauna Ulu eruption which actually lasted for a whole five years from 1969 to 1974. The dome fountain was relatively early in the volcano’s eruption and lasted about 3 days.
An important part to notice is that the photo looks like the dome is coming out of the ocean and is erupting between waves. However, this is actually also lava and the “waves” are ripples of lava moving due to the dome.
You would think the Mauna Ulu eruption would hold the record for the longest, and for a time it did. However, the volcanic vent on the Kilauea zone has been erupting almost non stop since 1983. Yet the Mauna Ulu eruption will always be fondly remembered because it was more accessible and the public could see it – at times they even had a viewing point installed.
And though it was still a spectacular eruption to watch it was not actually as big as typical eruptions, probably why it remained so accessible. The Mauna Ulu fountain shot up around 30 to 330 feet in height, whereas some volcano explosions have been documented to reach the heights of 1,640 feet.
Still, this dome is definitely one of the breathtaking lava sights you will ever see. Geologists around the world are always looking in to find another occurrence from isolated vents to active lava lakes – they continue their search.