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Firehose of Lava Flows From Kilauea Volcano into Sea

2 Feb 2017, 2:23 pm

Researchers from the USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory captured dramatic footage showing a ‘firehose’ of lava flowing from the Kilauea Volcano and into the sea this past weekend on January 28. The video also captures littoral explosions as the super hot lava makes contact with the cold sea water at the Kamokuna lava tube.

Kīlauea is the youngest and southeastern most volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Topographically Kīlauea appears as only a bulge on the southeastern flank of Mauna Loa, and so for many years Kīlauea was thought to be a mere satellite of its giant neighbor, not a separate volcano. However, research over the past few decades shows clearly that Kīlauea has its own magma-plumbing system, extending to the surface from more than 60 km deep in the earth. The USGS says it might be the world’s most active volcano.


According to the USGS on January 28th, “An open lava stream continues to pour out of the lava tube, perched high on the sea cliff, and into the ocean. The stream was remarkably steady today, but produced pulsating littoral explosions that threw spatter onto the sea cliff.”

From January 29th, “The lava stream, pouring out of the lava tube on the sea cliff at the Kamokuna ocean entry, continues and was similar to yesterday. The stream appeared wider (as viewed from this angle) today compared to yesterday, and often had holes in the thin sheet. The entry was still producing small, pulsating littoral explosions.”

As of February 1st, the USGS says the lava flow continues, but the stream has become much more narrow. “From the lava viewing area established by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you can witness Kīlauea Volcano’s ocean entry from a safe distance. With binoculars or a telephoto camera lens, spectacular views and photos are possible (as seen here)—without risking your life by entering the closed area. As lava streams into the ocean, explosive interactions between the molten lava and cool seawater hurl spatter and rock fragments skyward, often as high as the sea cliff, which is about 28 m (92 ft) high.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Mace Michaels

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