Tuesday, Dec. 05, 2023|
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A stream of lava continues to gush out the side of a sea cliff in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as the 61g flow struggles to rebuild a delta of volcanic rock that calved like a glacier New Year’s Eve.
The “fire hose,” as some call it, is the latest awe-inspiring feature of Pu‘u ‘O‘o’s eruption, which has entered its 34th year on Kilauea’s East Rift Zone.
The collapse took with it most of the delta built up by the ocean entry that started last July and exposed a section of the lava tube just above sea level, allowing the volcano to pump out molten rock straight from the side of the cliff in a concentrated stream.
Tim Orr, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist, said the delta is taking longer to rebuild than expected, suggesting a significant amount of rock was lost below the ocean’s surface.
“Usually a delta begins to grow pretty quickly after a collapse,” he said.
“I’m surprised it’s still visible,” Orr added, referring to the lava stream.
About 21 acres of the delta and another 4 acres that belonged to the older cliff disappeared, said Janet Babb, HVO spokeswoman.
Such collapses are common as the island slowly builds new land on an unstable foundation.
Orr, who flew over the flow Thursday, said the collapse could have occurred thousands of feet below the surface.
“The whole flank, in a sense, slides away,” he said.
Shane Turpin of Lava Ocean Tours said he’s seen such activity before with past ocean entries, but the lava stream is proving another opportunity to promote his business.
A video his company posted on Facebook had been viewed nearly 6 million times by Thursday.
“Everyone loves what’s going on right now,” Turpin said.
“People have a great time whether it’s a finger of lava or is a giant hose,” he added. “It’s all lava.”
Turpin said the issue for his operation is capacity.
He said he has a permit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources that limits him to one boat, which seats 49, though there is easily demand for two or three.
Email Tom Callis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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