Hawaii Lava Tube Returns Days After Cliff Collapse

Detailed view of the Kilauea "firehose". US Geological Survey

Hawaii is a geological beauty, its main island churning with primordial forces.

One of the most active of these volcanic forces – Kilauea – has been gushing hundreds of millions of gallons of lava into the ocean like a ruptured artery.


Last month, footage was released of this lava “firehose” spouting from Kilauea’s Kamokuna ocean entry. The spectacular stream began on New Year’s Eve, when a 21-acre section of the lava delta collapsed into the ocean, exposing its fiery innards. 

Typically, the lava pouring into the water and cooling would begin to stack up and create a lava delta. This time, however, the flow continued to stream nearly 30 meters (100 feet) down for an entire month, with spatter (bits of molten lava), steam clouds, and plumes of acidic ash rising from the chaos.

Last Thursday, however, a cliff collapse cut off the scorching 1,100°C (2,010°F) flow. The exact moment of the collapse was caught on film.


“Within minutes of HVO [Hawaiian Volcano Observatory] geologists reaching the ocean entry site, the sea cliff seaward of the hot crack collapsed with no warning; fortunately, the [tourists] were far enough away to not be in harm's way,” reported the US Geological Survey (USGS) on February 2. “When they arrived, the "firehose" flow was no longer visible. However, spatter and black sand flying through the steam plume indicated that lava was still flowing into the ocean and interacting explosively with seawater.” 

There she goes! The cliff on February 2, 2017, following the collapse. US Geological Survey

But this was not the last of the incandescent light show. Kilauea has been continuously erupting since 1983 and this blip was not going to be the last of it. A video taken by Kalapana Cultural Tours shows the hose pumping out lava in full force.

Geologists recommend tourists stay clear of the area to avoid any danger. When the molten lava plummets into the seawater, it reacts with the cool temperature and causes explosions that can spit out chunks of rock and debris.


If you would like to indulge in its magnificence from a safe distance, here are some gorgeous images of the Kilauea volcano lava flow courtesy of the US Geological Survey.

The luminous lava stream on January 29, 2017.

Near the base of the lava stream on January 28, 2017.

An image comparison that shows the lava stream becoming much more narrow between Saturday and Wednesday. 


A wide view of the delta collapse. Pictured is the fume trace of the 61g tube system, taken on January 25, 2017.


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