Lonely Planet Writer

Mysterious smiley face appears in erupting Hawaiian volcano

Here’s something to smile about. A filmmaker has captured the moment that the lava inside the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii formed a red hot smiley face.

The smiley face inside the Pu'u 'O'o vent at the Kilauea Volcano.
The smiley face inside the Pu’u ‘O’o vent at the Kilauea Volcano. Image by Mick Kalber/Tropical Visions Video/Paradise Helicopters

The image was captured by Mick Kalber of Tropical Visions Video who was at the location with Paradise Helicopters flying around the volcano for one of his films.

P'u' 'O'o, the main vent on the east rift of Kilauea.
P’u’ ‘O’o, the main vent on the east rift of Kilauea. Image by Sethoscope / CC BY 2.0

“I’ve been shooting the lava lake inside the Pu’u ‘O’o vent since it first formed several years ago. Sometimes we can’t get to it because of all the smoke and steam and the plume coming out of the vent. Other times, it’s just barely visible. But last Wednesday morning it was marvellously clear… and we were there early enough for the lava to glow brightly in the early morning light. I saw the smiley face as soon as we made the first turn around the lake. I thought to myself, now that’s weird… not something I’d ever seen before in my 32+ years of shooting Kilauea,” explains Mick.

Lava from the vent reached the sea, resulting in dramatic scenes.
Lava from the vent reached the sea, resulting in dramatic scenes. Image by Mick Kalber/Tropical Visions/Paradise Helicopters

Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and has been erupting continuously since the 1980’s.  On this occasion, the lava from the crater reached the ocean, resulting in some dramatic camera images.