Saturday, March 08, 2008

Lava enters ocean again in Hawaii

The eruption of Kilauea on Hawaii's Big Island has been continuous since 1983. Much of this time lava has flowed down 4,000 feet and entered the ocean, making the island larger. The flow to the ocean stopped last June, but the flow continued, just in a different direction. We were there in early February, 2008. Seeing lava flow is a nowhere-else-in-the-world opportunity, so we wouldn't miss it. Usually you can walk to see the flow; in 1999 we hiked 3 miles each way over rough lava to see it. But this year it was not possible. So we took a flight from Hilo. We saw it. Being daylight it was harder to see, but with a close look we could the red hot lava. And, being a flight, after one circle we had to move on. The active flow we saw was about 4 miles from the Pacific and about 2,000 feet up. This week there is good news on two fronts. The lava front turned and moved very quickly, advancing the 4 miles in a month, so it is again flowing into the ocean. One advantage of flow into the ocean is you can see the steam from miles away, so far more people get some experience of the lava's location and high heat, not just those who hike there. See the map. Viewing - Hawaii County was proactive and extended a road and a trail to allow access to a view point to see the lava flow. Honolulu Star-Bulletin When we were there with our kids in 1990, you couldn't get within a mile, maybe more. The emphasis was on safety. But there was another consideration. The flow was destroying a neighborhood - Kalapana; people's homes were going up in flames. So it was sensitive to them to keep us sightseer/scientiests out. But now everyone can see.

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