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Kamokuna Lava Delta Collapses Into Ocean

On May 3, Kīlauea Volcano’s Kamokuna lava delta, which had been growing since late March, collapsed.

This image shows the lava delta at 7:50 a.m. HST, a couple of hours before the collapse.

An HVO time-lapse camera captured the sequence of events in five-minute intervals.

Between 9:35 and 9:40 a.m., a large steam plume appeared in the middle of Kamokuna lava delta in the area of large cracks noted in our April 27 image.

Weak fountaining or spattering likely occurred initially, because new tephra is visible in the steaming area, but that activity ended by 9:40 a.m.

Images captured over the next 25 minutes show that the steam plume in the middle of the delta weakened, and the delta surface surrounding the steaming area subsided.

Within five minutes, between 9:55 and 10:00 a.m. HST, nearly the entire delta disappeared, collapsing into the sea.

In this image, captured at 10:05 a.m., the seawater is brown and turbulent. Large blocks of steaming rocks are visible on top of a narrow slice of the remaining delta (center). These rocks were likely washed ashore by a small, localized tsunami generated by the collapse. During the next few hours, small pieces of the remnant delta continued to flake off and disappear into the ocean.

The collapsed area cut back toward the sea cliff, past the largest crack on the delta.

This morning (May 4), the Kamokuna ocean entry was obscured by a thick steam plume at the base of the cliff.

Click images to enlarge

Sparse littoral bursts, occasionally visible through the plume, were the source of the floating, steaming lava fragments that can be seen in the ocean near the entry.

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