Whether it's a sign of what's to come or something else entirely, clearly, Mother Nature had something to be happy about late last week, when deadly lava tore through the surface of an iconic Hawaiian volcano to form a pattern that resembled a crude smiley face.
The volcano in question is Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, one of the world's most active, which formed a smiley face in its over-80-foot-deep crater during an ongoing eruption.
While what is now referred to as the "Smiling Volcano" has become something of an internet sensation since footage of it surfaced online last week, there is another reason why this eruption is so noteworthy.
The Kilauea volcano, whose name translates to "spewing" or "much spreading," formed about 300,000 to 600,000 years ago, and hasn't gone into a prolonged dormancy during all that time. In fact, it has been slowly leaking lava onto the surface around it for over three decades now, and things really hit full-steam on May 24, when that lava began to flow down two new lava flows that surfaced from the flanks of the Pu'u O'o cone.
However during all that time, that lava rarely reached the Pacific Ocean — the last time it did so was in 2013 — typically leaving the lava's remains on the surface around it. This fact means that a small bit of history was made Tuesday when the lava successfully fell down the cliff on Hawaii's Big Island where the volcano resides and into the Pacific Ocean below, and leaving those lucky enough to view it with a memory that will last a lifetime.
Beyond a smile and a memorable view, the eruption also left something behind: new landmass — kinda.
Since the lava flow appears to be nothing out of the ordinary and doesn't seem to pose a threat, officials at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are still allowing hikers to engage in their regular activities in the area. However, they have been advised to avoid trying to explore the "new land" near the cliff face that the cooled lava has created, as it has the potential to slide into the sea since it hasn't fully settled yet.
In the meantime, people are able to get up close and personal to the lava flow, but the United States Geological Survey (USGS) advises that they bring plenty of water and prepare for the extreme heat (some reports say 100-plus degrees) that the lava is sure to give off.