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Lava flowing to the sea again at national park

Lava finally reaches the ocean inside the national park at Wahaula. The entry began sometime between the evening of Jan. 21 and the morning of Jan. 22, 2009. A narrow finger of lava cascades over the sea cliff into the ocean at Wahaula. The corresponding thermal image on the right highlights the contrast of the active lobe. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey)

Lava finally reaches the ocean inside the national park at Wahaula. The entry began sometime between the evening of Jan. 21 and the morning of Jan. 22, 2009. A narrow finger of lava cascades over the sea cliff into the ocean at Wahaula. The corresponding thermal image on the right highlights the contrast of the active lobe. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey)

MEDIA RELEASE

A lava flow has created a new ocean entry site at Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park.

Scientists of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory have reported a lava flow made it to the sea late Wednesday or early Thursday, creating the new ocean entry site within the park. 

This is the first time lava has flowed into the ocean within the park since 2007.

According to the scientists, the ocean entry is very close to the long-buried Wahaula Heiau and Visitor Center and is so small it is not even making a steam plume.

Park officials expect some visitors will be tempted to undergo the 8-mile round-trip hike from the end of Chain of Craters Road to the flow.

“If you’re thinking of hiking to the flow, talk to the rangers, read the information at the end of Chain of Craters Road, and heed all warnings. There is risk of serious injury, or worse,” said Chief Ranger Talmadge Magno. 

Some dangers are obvious, some hidden.

It’s a hard, hot, rough hike over a shadeless windswept lava field. There is no marked trail; the ground is cracked, uneven, and slippery. High temperatures and humidity increase risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

There is also the chance of inundation by vog from Puu Oo. When rain falls on hot lava, visibility is obscured and hikers are easily disoriented by whiteout conditions. 

All who venture out along the park’s new coastline need to stay at least one-quarter mile inland. Many sections of new land along the park’s coastline are unstable and can collapse into the sea without warning.

— Find out more:
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: www.nps.gov/havo
Kilauea Updates: 967-8862, http://volcano.wr.usgs.gov/kilaueastatus.php

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