As pointed out by Ben Edwards – a professor of geosciences at Dickinson College – to me on Twitter, I didn’t include the heat of vaporization, the energy required to transform a liquid substance into a gas at a set temperature. For 1 kilogram of water, it takes 2.26 million joules to do just that, which hints at how much more energy it takes to break apart molecular bonds than to simply heat something up.
This would bring the total energy requirement to 146 trillion joules, or 1.46 x 1014 joules. That is roughly 35 kilotons of TNT, far greater than the energy unleashed during small nuclear weapon blasts.
So, if you needed a reminder of how literally hot lava is, there you have it.
It’s worth remembering that as this eruption has progressed, it hasn’t just involved the as-predicted focusing of the lava flow out of just one single vent. The first magma that came to the surface was a colder, older batch with less gas.
Now, Kilauea is tapping mantle temperatures, ejecting lava that is as hot as lava on Earth can realistically get – about 1,204°C (2,200°F). At the moment, gas-rich fury is being fired high into the sky, and even building its own baby volcanic cone around Fissure 8, while much of it continues to be dumped in Kapoho Bay along multiple entry points.
As with the lake invasion, this is creating plenty of laze, which contains hydrochloric acid droplets and glassy volcanic debris. As ever, people are being kept away from the laze and the somewhat unstable new delta that's being born along the lava-smothered coastline.