A rainbow ending in an erupting volcano? What caused phenomenon in Hawaii park?

Mark Price
·2 min read

Lava-spewing volcanoes aren’t known for generating rainbows, but that’s exactly what seemed to happen this week in Hawaii.

The U.S. Geological Survey shared a photo Thursday showing a well defined rainbow formed Monday over Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting for two months.

“A pot of lava at the end of the rainbow?” the group wrote on Facebook.

The rainbow ended in a lava lake that is 715 feet deep — and still growing. But experts say the eruption is not what caused the rainbow.

It formed after a mix of mist and rain drifted over the hot caldera, something that happens often, officials said. On Jan. 6, the USGS shared a photo of another rainbow obscuring the erupting fissure.

The phenomenon is not often seen by the public, because safety precautions keep people away from the caldera’s edge during eruptions.

Temperatures above the lava lake range from 200 to 400 degrees, officials say, and there is a lingering threat of an explosion and gas emissions.

The rainbow photo has amassed hundreds of reactions, including some who noted it was an even more rare double rainbow.

“I guess no one every thought there would a crater full of lava at the end of the rainbow,” Ian McFadyen wrote. “What an amazing coincidence of wildly different natural phenomena.”

The USGS says the lava lake continues to evolve, though the eruption has “stabilized” to a slow, steady output of lava. It contains islands, too, which have been locked in place as the surface of the lake hardens.

“In an odd twist, the solidified crust contains bubbles and is more buoyant than the molten lava,” the USGS reports.

“The crust on the eastern portion of the lava lake has remained solidified for about a month now, but it continues to rise within the crater. How is this possible? The main mechanism driving the rise of the crust is active lava from the perched lake seeping down underneath the solidified crust to force it upward.”

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