Lava shoots from active fissures in the Leilani Estates housing developement, in the Keahialaka ahupua'a on the island of Hawaii, on May 24.
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See How the Kilauea Eruption Is–Literally–Reshaping Hawaii
A tiny new island appeared for a brief moment in time.
Last week, the ongoing Kilauea eruption spawned a tiny addition to the Hawaiian island chain. A little baby islet, only about 20 or 30 feet from edge to edge, popped up off the coast of the Big Island—seemingly ready to strike out on its own adventure in the wide blue Pacific.
But the islet didn’t last long. Only a few days later, a fresh pump of lava filled in a track between the coast and the baby isle, turning it into isthmus instead.
The island’s brief existence is only the latest entry in a serial drama: the millions-year-long origin story of the Hawaiian islands. Here’s how the island chain grew—and how this current eruption is shaping the topography of Hawaii,