New photos and video show lava pouring from newly exposed sea cliff

Molten lava cascades out of the scarp left behind from the collapsed delta of the Kamokuna Ocean Entry in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Monday, January 2, 2017. The area has been closed to visitors since the New Year’s Eve collapse of 26 acres into the ocean. Park officials hope to reopen the Kamokuna Lava Viewing Area by noon on January 3, 2017 which will be the 34th anniversary of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō eruption. Video courtesy of National Park Service.

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory update on the Kilauea Lava Flow

The episode 61g flow is still active and entering the ocean at Kamokuna. Nearly all of the lava delta at Kamokuna collapsed into the ocean on December 31. Also, a large section of the older sea cliff east of the lava delta collapsed into the sea. The collapsed part of the sea cliff extended about 180 m (590 ft) east of the delta edge, and cut inland about 70 m (230 ft) from the shoreline! The small breakout near Puʻu ʻŌʻō was not visible in the Webcam images overnight because of clouds, but it was active yesterday morning. The episode 61g flow poses no threat to nearby communities at this time.

As a strong caution to visitors viewing the episode 61g flow ocean entry (where lava meets the sea), there are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water. Also, the new land created is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf, causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea. In several instances, such collapses, once started, have also incorporated parts of the older sea cliff. Prominent cracks observed in the surface of the relatively large eastern lava delta at Kamokuna indicate instability and an increased potential for larger collapse events. Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates a corrosive seawater plume laden with hydrochloric acid and fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.

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