Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:29 p.m., Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Kilauea lava still flowing into ocean

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

The orange glow of molten lava continues to delight visitors and scientists along the southern flank of the Big Island, where the flow from Kilauea Volcano has poured off a 20-foot cliff and into the ocean since last month.

Lava has been pouring off a Big Island cliff into the ocean for about a month, providing quite a view.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Light winds this morning kept the steam and haze along the eastern and western deltas of the so-called "banana flow," obscuring what had been described in recent days as gorgeous and incandescent displays of nature, said Don Swanson, scientist-in-charge at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Lava is pouring into the ocean near the end of Chain of Craters Road, from several places on the eastern delta and along the western delta. The lava reached the sea May 30 for the first time since last summer.

A trail marked by rangers from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park takes visitors along the rugged coastline to what is considered a safe viewing distance. Many people continue further, however, over the heated outer crust of lava.

A section of coastline where the sea meets the flow — both cooled and current — is roped off because the lava there can crumble into the sea without warning.

The geological survey reported small breakouts of lava yesterday between the end of the trail and the rope barrier.

"You can see the glow before sun-up, but the public is not allowed to go beyond the roped area," Swanson said.

The flow along the eastern delta, which originates upslope from the Pu'u O'o vent, has increased slightly in the last four days, Swanson said.

"Not all the lava that is being reported from Pu'u O'o is making it down to the water," Swanson said. "It is being diverted. It comes out on the surface. If you are down there at night, you can look up the palis and see it. There are a lot of breakouts that are robbing the lava from coming out of the tube."

Even though Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983, Swanson says it remains a wondrous sight.

"You never get tired of it," he said. "There is always something new to see. And then there's the beauty of it and you can't get tired of beauty."

Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.