Lava lake at Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano erupts after portion of the crater wall collapses

Posted at 11:57 AM, May 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-06 11:57:34-04

(CNN) — The lava lake at a popular Hawaii tourist destination is rising to record heights.

The latest eruption occurred at the Kilauea summit lava lake Sunday night across from a visitors center. But never fear, said Janet Babb with the U.S. Geological Survey. The overlook at the Jaggar Museum at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is more than a mile away from the crater and officials don’t believe visitors are in danger.

Gas building up inside the crater’s lava bed caused the dramatic eruption, which hurled molten lava and rock fragments 285 feet to the top of the rim, she said.

“When a rock falls into that lake, it causes a reaction,” Babb said, “much like if you were to uncork a bottle of champagne by hitting the top off with a hammer.”

And for onlookers eager to catch a glimpse of bubbling lava, the recent activity has indeed been cause for celebration.

“If you can get there, go,” a post on the “365 Things To Do In Kona, HI” Facebook page said this week. “The telescope there lets you see the lava lake bubbling and churning. Tres cool.”

Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and is on the island of Hawaii, the largest in the chain.

Last year, lava from the volcano engulfed homes in a nearby village. Hawaii emergency officials say the recent rise of the lava lake does not pose any immediate threats to communities.