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The lava from the erupting Puu Oo vent reached the ocean, creating dangerous beautiful scenery on the south coast of Kilauea Volcano.
As soon as the lava reached the sea, it started to build a foundation where a new lava delta could form. The event only happened before in 2013, and the experts believe it will add new land to the island.
Tourists are expected to come to the location, drawn by the interaction between the cool seawater and the hot lava. However, the event is associated with dangerous conditions, among which the collapse of new land into the ocean, explosions, hot water being washed onshore, and hot clouds of hydrochloric acid.
While the first three hazards can provoke death and severe injury, the last one can irritate the skin, the respiratory tracts, and the eyes. The steam plumes can cause severe breathing difficulties for people with pre-existing respiratory diseases.
The lava that enters the water cools off very fast and solidifies into pieces of glassy rock. These fragments may accumulate on the ocean’s floor, and on the top of them, a new wave of lava will be laid. However, the first foundation is unstable and often collapses under the weight of the new mass.
While it collapses, the molten lava, hot rocks, and the surface lava enter the water creating a blast of steam, rocks, and molten lava. The temperatures are higher than 2,012 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the largest explosions sent materials as far as 330 yards away from their initial location, covering a surface as big as several football fields.
One of the most violent events took place in 1993 when a photographer had been swept out to the sea, and a dozen other people had been injured while trying to take cover from the lava fragments and hot rocks thrown onshore.
Huge waves can send hot water on the shore, and people that happened to be in the vicinity receive second-degree burns. Two people died in 2000 because of the burns and the acidic steam produced at the meeting point between the lava and the ocean.
The experts cannot predict the time or the size of a collapse. In order to avoid such events, tourists are advised not to enter an active lava delta and to keep a 400 m distance from the place where the lava enters the sea.
Kilauea continues to be active in the East Rift Zone and the summit, with a lava level of 85 feet below the Halemaumau Crater vent.
Image Source: Wikipedia