“Kamokuna” Lava Ocean Entry Continues – Significant Hazards Persist

Lava from the 61g flow continues into the ocean along Kīlauea’s south coast.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Today’s field crew also noted active pāhoehoe breakouts a few hundred meters (yards) upslope from the coast and road.

Meanwhile, back at the summit of Kīlauea…

Perched on the rim of Kīlauea Volcano’s summit caldera, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and NPS Jaggar Museum (foreground) overlook the active lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The black lava flows to the left and right of the fuming vent spilled onto the crater floor in April-May 2015, when the lava lake briefly filled to overflowing.

The summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater continuously circulates, with lava upwelling on one side of the lake and downwelling on the opposite side, often resulting in vigorous spattering (bright spot on left side of lake).

The silhouette of Mauna Loa is visible in upper right.  Click to enlarge

The silhouette of Mauna Loa is visible in upper right. Click to enlarge

As it circulates, sections of the dark-colored, semi-solid lake surface pull apart, revealing the incandescent molten lava beneath and creating the appearance of a jigsaw puzzle. This evening, the lava lake surface was about 26 m (85 ft) below the vent rim.

As a strong caution to visitors viewing the new ocean entry (location where lava meets the sea) for Flow 61G, 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. Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates an acidic plume laden with fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.

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