Lava Delta Collapses Into Ocean Triggering Small Explosion

Kīlauea Volcano continues to erupt at its summit and from its East Rift Zone. The lava lake at Kīlauea’s summit has risen substantially within the Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook vent over the past few days and is clearly visible from the Jaggar Museum. Summit tiltmeters have been registering inflationary tilt since Monday morning (9/5).

Kīlauea Volcano's lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater rose steadily over the past day in concert with summit inflation. This morning, with the lake level at just 19 m (62 ft) below the summit vent rim, vigorous spattering on the lake surface was visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

Kīlauea Volcano’s lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater rose steadily over the past day in concert with summit inflation. This morning, with the lake level at just 19 m (62 ft) below the summit vent rim, vigorous spattering on the lake surface was visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

The 61g lava flow, extending southeast from Puʻu ʻŌʻō on Kīlauea’s south flank, continues to supply lava to the ocean near Kamokuna. Last weekend, HVO observers found that persistent noxious volcanic fumes downwind from the ocean entry area necessitated the use of respirators. On Monday (5 September), a large section of the western ocean entry delta collapsed into the ocean, triggering a small explosion.

As a strong caution to visitors viewing the 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. 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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