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Lava reaches ocean? Maybe not, scientists now say

  • COURTESY: USGS HAWAII VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    Steam rises from the ocean as a lava flow spills into the sea this morning. This image is from a temporary research camera positioned on the pali, west of the flows, looking towards the east.
  • COURTESY: USGS HAWAII VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    This Nov. 20 thermal image panorama shows the lava flow on the coastal plain. The view is to the southwest. The bright areas are active lava, while the less bright areas are warm but inactive flows.
  • COURTESY: USGS HAWAII VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    This Nov. 10, 2012 photo shows the lava flow front a little more than 500 yards from the shoreline along the eastern boundary of HawaiÔi Volcanoes National Park.
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Lava from Puu Oo Crater is close, but may not have reached the ocean just yet, scientists at the Hawaii Volcanos Observatory said this morning.

Earlier in the morning the observatory reported that lava had reached the ocean Wednesday night. Scientists observed plumes of white steam rising from the lava flow at first light.

But when the plumes dissipated later in the morning, observatory scientists said the steam may have been from rain falling on the hot lava flow.

A web camera positioned near the lava flow shows the lava close to the sea. The webcam can be seen at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/cams/panorama.php?cam=R2cam.

There are two active lava flow branches on the coastal plain. The eastern flow is closest to the ocean.

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