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New photos show why crowds are flocking to see lava

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 8:29 a.m. HST, Dec 29, 2011


The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory released new photos of lava at Kilauea, which continues to attract crowds to view the lava entering the ocean.

About 450 people made the trek to a Hawaii County lava viewing point near Kaimu last night to view the current flow enter the ocean. 

The lava is not threatening any homes or structures, but has been blasting steam from a point where it reaches the sea along the coast within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, said John Drummond, acting administrator for Hawaii County Civil Defense. 

The lava viewing area opens at 2 p.m., and closed at 10 p.m., Drummond said.

The photos released Wednesday on the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website, show the spread of lava along the coastal plain entering the ocean at numerous points. A thermal image shows the scattered pahoephoe lobes along the plain.

Another photo shows the glow from a lava lake within Kilauea volcano at Halemaumau.

Lava from Kilauea Volcano's Puu Oo vent reached the ocean earlier this month at a spot scientists have named the West Kailiili Ocean Entry.

It is the first time since 2007 that lava is entering the ocean within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Other recent ocean entries have occurred outside the park to the east, through private land and areas within Hawaii County jurisdiction. 

Park visitors are allowed to hike to the site, beginning at the end of Chain of Craters Road. The trek is about four miles one way, across an uneven lava flow field.

Scientists are monitoring a lava delta is being formed at the base of a sea cliff at West Kailiili. Lava deltas can collapse with little warning, produce hot rock falls inland and generate large local waves.

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