Kilauea Lava Lake Explodes After Halemaumau Crater Wall Collapses

A lava lake that sits within Halemaumau Crater on Hawaii's Big Island exploded Sunday after a portion of the crater wall collapsed into the lava below.

The footage above, captured by U.S. Geological Survey cameras at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, shows the debris falling into the lake, triggering the fiery blast.

According to volcanologist Frank Trusdell, explosions like this one are unpredictable events. "The walls of the crater become destabilized by heating, weathering, earthquakes and loss of support. They fall into the lava causing degassing of the lava. The exsolution of gases happens rapidly, leading to the explosion," he told The Huffington Post.

Typically, the lava within the lake is 100 feet to 200 feet below the rim, but recently the magma chamber that flows into the lava lake has shown increased inflation, suggesting that lava is being driven into the lake from an underground chamber below.

Visitors to Volcanoes National Park have been privy to a rare and impressive show, since the lava is now visible from the crater overlook and has overflowed several times onto the floor of Halemaumau crater.

overflowRecent overflows are visible in this USGS photograph taken on April 30.

The lava lake stems from the Kilauea volcano, which makes up the southeastern tip of Hawaii island. The current summit eruption began in 2008.

While this explosion is considered small by USGS researchers, most people are thoroughly impressed.