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Lava from Kilauea’s Puu Oo vent flows into ocean

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This photograph taken Tuesday December 13, 2011shows two channels of lava coming over the sea cliff, reaching the new lava delta.
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Small streams of lava cascade over a sea cliff into the ocean in this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011. The ocean entry point is within the National Park, near its eastern border.

Lava from Kilauea Volcano’s Puu Oo vent has reached the ocean at a spot scientists have named the West Kailiili Ocean Entry, the National Park Service said today.

It is the first time since 2007 that lava is entering the ocean within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Recent ocean entries have occurred outside the park to the east, through private land and areas within Hawaii County jurisdiction. This ocean entry is near the park’s eastern border, the park service said.

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.

Several streams of lava were pouring into the ocean today, the park service said. Visitors who stay after dark can also see channels of lava flowing down the pali and across the flow field, but conditions can change at any time.

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

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