Lava fountains as Hawaii volcano erupts

Hawaii's Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, is erupting again, providing a spectacle that includes bursting lava fountains and lava "waves" but no Big Island communities are in danger.

Lava from Kilauea spurted high into the air and spread out across about 120 hectares of the Hawaii volcano's summit crater floor as the mountain erupted again after a few weeks' hiatus.

Jillian Marohnic said the pool of lava that formed inside Halemaumau Crater was "the most beautiful" she had seen in her 25 years of watching the volcano.

"The lake was so high and so full. It's sparkling," said Marohnic, who operates the Volcano Hideaways holiday rental business in the nearby village of Volcano.

"The surface of the lake looks like stained glass."

This latest eruption began on Thursday, less than one month after Kilauea and its larger neighbour Mauna Loa went quiet.

One of the world's most active volcanoes, Kilauea last erupted from September 2021 through to mid-December.

Mauna Loa rumbled to life for the first time in 38 years when it erupted for about two weeks from late November.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Kilauea's latest eruption is expected to remain inside the summit crater, which is within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and away from residential communities.

The observatory on Thursday raised Kilauea's alert level but lowered it the next morning from warning to watch "because the initial high effusion rates are declining, and no infrastructure is threatened".

On Thursday night, lava from Kilauea shot as high as 50 metres into the air but most so-called "lava fountains" were 10m high.

The crater surface rose 10m on Thursday as a result of the new lava added, the observatory said.

By morning, the observatory said the lava fountains lost some vigour but were consistently 5m high.

This is typical behaviour at the start of Kilauea eruptions, said Matt Patrick, a geologist at the observatory.

"This is a cycle of collapse and refilling that Kilauea has done many, many times at its summit," he said.

Volcanic eruptions have deep cultural and spiritual significance for native Hawaiians.

During Mauna Loa's eruption, many Hawaiians took part in cultural traditions, such as singing, chanting and dancing to honour Pele, the deity of volcanoes and fire, and leaving offerings known as "hookupu".

Kealoha Pisciotta, a cultural practitioner who lives on the slopes of Kilauea, encouraged Hawaiians in Hawaii and beyond to acknowledge akua - or gods and goddesses such as Pele, the deity of volcanoes and fire.

"Wherever you are, take time out today to reflect upon them and thank them for bringing new life and new land," she said.