A spectacular image of a lava bubble in Hawaii quickly gained hundreds of retweets last week, even though the phenomenon occurred nearly a half-century ago. In the image, taken Oct. 11, 1969, the very rare symetrical 65-foot-tall Hawaiian lava dome resembles a fiery star colliding with Earth.
The lava that formed this dome originated at the Kilauea Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. It has been in an almost constant state of eruption since 1983.
Dome fountain of episode 10, October 10–13, 1969, eruption of Kilauea Volcano. This dome fountain is about 20 m (65 ft) high. Symmetrical dome fountains such as this are rare. #Tbt #HI @Volcanoes_NPS pic.twitter.com/sKSQaVINKs
— USGS (@USGS) March 29, 2018
These lava domes form when thick magma bubbles to the surface and piles up around the vent. There isn’t enough pressure to cause a violent eruption, so it piles up instead. Lava domes can grow as tall as 1,600 feet tall, but usually swell to about 30 to 320 feet.