A tiny new island that caused a stir when it appeared off the coast of Hawaii is no longer an island, thanks to a strip of lava connecting it to the Big Island. This change to the Hawaiian coastline is connected to the current eruption of the Kilauea volcano, which began in early May, and has already added nearly 700 acres of land to the island where the flow front meets the ocean. The eruption has also caused the evacuation (and destruction) of many homes, and it’s not over yet.
With so many changes to the Hawaiian coast thanks to this massive eruption, it would be easy for this little island to be overlooked, but it caught people’s attention after researchers from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory spotted it while flying over the island on July 13th. The ‘island’ was only about 20-30 feet in diameter, and made an impressive sight, with lava and smoke pouring from the black rock. Its island status was short-lived, however, as it has now become connected to the island itself.
The tiny island’s change in status was reported by USGS Volcanoes on Twitter, who replied to a (now removed) tweet to say that a strip of lava now connects the island to the flow front (the front ‘edge’ of the lava flow itself). This means that the island is not an island anymore, but a new Hawaiian peninsula.
The 'island' is now connected to the main flow front by a strip of lava, so it's not an island anymore. Also, the USGS doesn't name features formed in eruptions - that's something local communities get to do.— USGS Volcanoes🌋 (@USGSVolcanoes) July 16, 2018
The current theory as to the creation of this new peninsula is that it is the result of an underwater tumulus (what happens when lava flowing underneath the ocean is pushed to the surface). The tweet thread also mentions that this does not seem to be connected to any collapse.
Of course, this current eruption is going to continue to change the coastline of the Big Island, so it’s possible that we may see more islands and peninsulas forming in the near future - and not all of them will last. Only when the eruption finally settles will we be able to see how the landscape has changed here, and tourists will undoubtedly flock to the area to take pictures with the cooled lava flow. For now, however, tourists are being urged to stay away from the eruption, as it is (fairly obviously) unsafe. Despite this, many are taking risks to get that perfect Instagram-worthy pic with an active volcano… and should this new peninsula remain once the smoke has cleared, we’re sure it will also become a favorite photo spot.
Source: USGS Volcanoes