Green kīpukas surrounded by brown lava flows erupted from Iwate volcano, Japan.
A kīpuka is an area of land surrounded by one or more younger lava flows. A kīpuka forms when lava flows on either side of a hill, ridge, or older lava dome as it moves downslope or spreads from its source. Older and more weathered than their surroundings, kīpukas often appear to be like islands within a sea of lava flows. They are often covered with soil and late ecological successionalvegetation that provide visual contrast as well as habitat for animals in an otherwise inhospitable environment.
Kīpuka, along with ʻaʻā and pāhoehoe, are Hawaiian words related to volcanology that have entered the lexicon of geology. Some have used the word informally as applying to any place where biological life endures the encroachment of civilization, an "island of life."