01/23/2014 06:55 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Kilauea Volcano Spews Lava... And It Is Awesome (VIDEO)

It's not news that there is almost always lava flowing on the Big Island of Hawaii, but it is news when video captures that lava sputtering, spattering and spewing like a middle school science project gone wrong.

The Kilauea volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and while explosive activity like this has been considered "normal" for the past year, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory was able to capture exceptionally clear video this past week.

The spattering is caused by gas within the lava lake, and, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, "large bubbles bursting at the surface drive the spattering activity, as shown occasionally by large spherical bursts."

Kilauea's roughly 2.6 million annual visitors are usually treated to effusive, docile flows (which are spectacularly trippy in their own right), but it's impossible to get an up-close-and-personal view like this. The lava lake sits within the Halema'uma'u Crater at Kilauea's summit, making viewing off limits, even by air. "The immediate area around this lava lake, including the air space above it," USGS geologist Janet Babb explained, "is closed to the public due to ongoing hazards (high levels of sulfur dioxide gas, explosions)."

Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can witness fumes from the lava lake during the day and can see the glow at night from various overlooks within the park.


The Earth From Above