Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii began erupting 28 years ago today. This eruption on the volcano’s east rift zone is the world’s longest continuous volcanic eruption. A second eruption began on March 19, 2008 at the summit and is also continuing.

In the early years, spectacular lava fountains spewed from the Puu Oo vent. The two decades of continuous eruption have resulted in a vast plain of lava that now stretches from the rift zone to the ocean. During the past year, lava flows destroyed two homes in Kalapana Gardens, the same area where lava destroyed 104 buildings in 1990.

In recognition of the impact of volcanic eruptions, Hawaii Island has designated January 2011 as the second annual “Volcano Awareness Month.” Activities and events will “promote the importance of understanding and respecting the volcanoes on which we live,” according to the USGS Volcano Observatory, one of the sponsors.

Volcano Awareness Activities include talks in the Kilauea Visitor Center, at UH-Hilo, in Hilo and Kona. There will be guided geology hikes and park programs as well as a teacher workshop. The annual Science Day in honor of Astronaut Ellison Onizuka at UH-Hilo on January 22 will include an interactive display about Hawaii volcanoes.

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