After last year's Kilauea eruption caused travel chaos for the big Hawaiian Island, the Volcanoes National Park has turned to the public to solve their latest seismic problem: what to name the new mound formed by the eruption?

After the 200-day eruption was finally declared over on December 5th the landscape has been altered drastically surrounding the East Rift Zone.

The Hawaii Board of Geographic Names has begun taking recommendations to name the Big Island's 18-metre new lava cone.

The state board is planning to take suggestions from the public and Hawaiian cultural practitioners to find a moniker for fissure 8, which formed during the Kilauea volcano eruption that started in May, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Wednesday.

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Tthe Kilauea eruption has altered the landscape of the East Rift Zone on Hawaii. Photo / Don Smith, Getty Images
Tthe Kilauea eruption has altered the landscape of the East Rift Zone on Hawaii. Photo / Don Smith, Getty Images

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory designated the new landmark as fissure 8 because it was the eighth of 24 fissures to open during the eruption.

A Hawaii County resolution that passed earlier this year calls for the state board to find a name by consulting with community members "who have direct traditional, cultural and familial ties to the district of Puna."

This is the first time the board has been tasked with naming a new land form, said Leo Asuncion, director of the state Office of Planning.

"If it appears as though there's no process in place for this, it's because we've never done this before," Asuncion said.

The original purpose of the board was to clarify spellings on official documents, but it has granted Hawaiian names to landmarks that were previously recognised with only Western names, Asuncion said. That process involved examining Hawaiian cultural records to find past names associated with the landmarks.

The board is planning to host a meeting in Pahoa next year to collect the community's opinions on suggested names and take additional recommendations.

The board hopes to select a name by the end of next summer, Asuncion said. The U.S. Board of Geographic Names must then approve it.

The board discourages names that are non-Hawaiian and names that are too long, commemorate living people or uses hyphens or apostrophes, according its guidelines.

The board is a final check on the suitability of the publically proposed name, after previous naming campaigns have left officials with their fingers burnt.


In 2016 the Natural Environment Research Council had their #NameOurBoat poll hijacked by pranksters who overwhelmingly voted to name their research vessel "Boaty McBoatface".

Similarly, last year Sweden's Stockholm-Gothenburg service was dubbed "Trainy McTrainface" by popular mandate.

It is unlikely that Kilauea's new feature will indulge in such silliness, though Lava McLavaface might prove popular with mischievous residents.

Applications for submitting name suggestions are on the state Office of Planning website.

Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald