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Hawaii’s Newest Island Disappeared Almost As Quickly As It Formed

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© Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey

By Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure

A new landmass has formed off the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island from the molten lava of the Kilauea Volcano eruption.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) discovered the formation of an island a few meters from mainland during a routine flyover on July 13. The agency measured its diameter somewhere between 20 and 30 feet, but warned people not to get too close — the island was still mostly scalding magma.

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But the “island” didn’t last long. On July 16, the USGS reported that the “now connected to the main flow front by a strip of lava.” If the “island” continues to grow, it could easily be washed away by the waves of the Pacific once the lava flow stops.
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The agency believes the mass may be a “submarine tumulus.” The term is used for when a landmass grows underwater and eventually emerges above the waves. Scientists believe it was formed by the newest fissure flow that’s now entering the ocean.
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Visitors can see the lava flow from helicopter or boat tours around the site.

© Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey

Kilauea has been emitting lava for more than two months. In that time, it has destroyed almost 700 homes and caused injuries. On July 16, 23 people were injured when a “lava bomb” from Kilauea crashed through the roof of a sightseeing boat.

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